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Barriers to Intercultural Communication

Intercultural communications can present complex obstacles that cover the full communication spectrum, but four important oral and nonverbal factors can make a significant difference when communicating with individuals from another culture.

Barriers Cultural Perception Language Non-Verbal

Barriers are : 1. Cultural Barriers 2. Perception - Beliefs & Attitudes 3. Language Barriers 4. Non-Verbal Barriers

1. Cultural Barriers Barriers in business and communication that arise from direct differences in culture between nations. These differences arise due to traditions followed in different countries and similar things implying different meanings in different cultures.

Example: Food habits The Chinese eat with chopsticks, Americans with spoon and fork and Indians prefer eating with hands. When one of these is present in a different cultural situations, they find it difficult to eat their food in an unusual manner.

2. Perception Barriers Beliefs & Attitudes

Stereotyping is a selection process that we use to organize and simplify perceptions of others, and stereotypes are our mental representations of others. The content of our stereotypes reveals our constellation of beliefs about members of social groups

Consequently, the stereotypes we hold directly influence our communication with others, and our initial predictions about others are based on the stereotypes we have about their culture, race, or ethnic group.However, stereotypes are often inaccurate, and they do not work well with individuals who have worked in international business or who have lived or studied abroad because they will display increased differences from their national cultures.

Prejudice Whereas a stereotype is a belief or conviction that something is probably true or that something exists, a prejudice is an attitude or an evaluation. Prejudice, then, may be defined as a positive or negative attitude toward a group or its individual members. Most people, however, think of it as negative. Racism, for example, is a tendency to categorize people who are culturally different in terms of their physical traits. Prejudice is often thought of in terms of a dichotomy; however, it is more accurate to think of prejudice as varying along a continuum from low to high.

Discrimination Prejudice should not be confused with its behavioral counterpart, discrimination. Discrimination can be thought of as prejudice in action. Essentially, discrimination i nvolves behaving in such a way that members of outgroups are treated disadvantageously.

3. Language Barrier

Lost in translation For an MNC to do business in China, it needs to promote it selves in Chinese Mandarin.

Example - Coca-Cola:
The name Coca-Cola rendered phonetically in Chinese can sound like the words for "bite the wax tadpole" or "female horse stuffed with wax". Before marketing in China, the company found a close phonetic equivalent, kekou kele (pinyin Romanization), which roughly means "let your mouth rejoice". It was never marketed by the company using the other phrases, though individual merchants may have made such signs.

4. Non-Verbal Barriers Body Language and Gestures Approximately 60% of communication happens through body language. Even when we are not speaking through verbal communication we are always sending some signal through body language. Different postures and gestures can mean different things to people from various cultures. Example : Greetings Americans greet through handshake, Indians through Namaste, Japanese through bowing, etc. Eye-contact, some cultures consider proper and longer eye contact as polite whereas others consider it rude.