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CHAPTER – 1

INTRODUCTION TO INTERCULTURAL COMMUNICATION
Introduction

Intercultural communication or communication between people of different cultural
backgrounds has always been and will probably remain an important precondition of
human co-existence on earth.

The term intercultural is chosen over the largely synonymous term cross-cultural
because it is linked to language use such as “interdisciplinary” that is cooperation
between people with different scientific backgrounds.

It is not cultures that communicate, whatever that might imply, but people (and
possibly social institutions) with different cultural backgrounds that do. In general,
the term ”cross-cultural” is probably best used for comparisons between cultures
(”cross-cultural comparison”).
What is a culture?

The term “culture” refers to all the characteristics common to a particular group of
people that are learned and not given by nature.

Culture involves beliefs, attitudes, values, and traditions that are shared by a group
of people. Thus, we must consider more than the clothes we wear, the movies we
watch, or the video games we play, all representations of environment, as culture.

Culture may be defined as the complex system of values, traits, morals, and
customs shared by a society.

Culture teaches people how to behave, and it conditions their reactions. The
important thing to remember is that culture is a powerful operating force that molds
the way we think and behave.

Culture also involves the psychological aspects of our expectations of the
communication context.

For example, if we are raised in a culture where males speak while females are
expected to remain silent, the context of the communication interaction governs
behavior, which in itself is a representation of culture.

From the choice of words (message), to how we communicate (in person, or by email), to how we acknowledge understanding with a nod or a glance (nonverbal
feedback), to the internal and external interference, all aspects of communication
are influenced by culture.
Types of Cultural Communication

We can classify the cultural communication into four groups:
1.Cross Cultural Communication
2. International Communication
3. Intracultural Communication
4.Intercultural Communication

but with slightly different values. racial. sexual orientation. INTERCULTURAL COMMUNICATION Introduction • Intercultural Communication can be simply defined as “the exchange of cultural information” between people “with significantly different cultures”. • It implies interaction with persons of different cultural. • It occurs when large and important cultural differences create dissimilar interpretations and expectations about how to communicate competently. religious. It is also the process by which people express their openness to an intercultural experience. At the same time. • Through intercultural relationships. 4. • Intercultural communication can also involve barriers like stereotyping and discrimination. and about ourselves and our own cultural background. There is the theoretical field of cross-cultural communication and the applied field of cross-cultural training. International Communication • This refers to the interactions among people from different nations not necessarily from different cultures. there are many challenges. we can learn a tremendous amount about other people and their cultures. non-verbal gestures. and mediating one's cultural differences through language. and space relationships. age and class backgrounds. 2.1. • During the past decades the growth of globalisation. . ethnic. • It refers a symbolic process in which people from different cultures create shared meaning. • This has led to an increased desire and need for knowledge regarding cross-cultural communication on many levels. Intracultural Communication • Intracultural Communication is the communication between culturally similar individuals. negotiating. gender. • It takes place between members of the same dominant culture. It refers the exchange of meaningful messages between members of the same cultural group. Cross Cultural Communication: • Cross cultural communication involves a comparison of communication styles among people from the same culture to those from another culture. immigration and international tourism has involved large numbers of people in cross-cultural interaction (also referred to as inter-cultural interaction or international relations) whether they have liked it or not. And these relationships take place in complex historical and political context. • ¨Cross-cultural communication¨ is a process of exchanging. 3.

• It means that human beings prefer living together with the people who are like them rather than with people are different in looking. increased international. national. but it has just as frequently failed. religions. speaking. languages and cultures. it is important to recognize that intercultural learning is not always easy or comfortable. and personal growth through increased tolerance. cultural diversity and difference is a standard characteristic of modern societies. better living together. • Communicating and establishing relationships with people from different cultures can lead to a whole host of benefits. and multiculturalism which was light-hearted with regard to integration. eating. The Need for Intercultural Communication • In human history. Sometimes intercultural encounters makes us aware of our own ethnocentrism—a tendency to think that our own culture is superior to other cultures. • Sometimes it has achieved. living together in peace without violence and problem has been a challenge for all humanity. However. • Intercultural communication is progressively understood as one of the important alternatives to develop mutual understanding. individuals have a chance to achieve a new identity balance. this standard character does not always something “desirable”. shortly. colors. subconsciously. and local commerce. behaving and believing compared to their own community. • In contrast with assimilation which charges exclusively migrants with the burden integration.• One of the most important reasons for studying intercultural communication is the awareness that raises of cultural identity and background of the societies. • Intercultural communication gives a good opportunity for the community integration. people from different cultures. This means that we assume. • However. to respond to new openings and experiences and to add new understandings to identity without relinquishing someone’s origin. dressing. • In these societies. that the way we do things is the only way. • Intercultural communication also provides to avoid pitfalls of identity policies and to remain open to the challenges of modern societies. reduced conflict. • As a result of intercultural communication. • The study of intercultural communication begins as a journey into another culture and reality and ends as a journey into one’s own culture. . • In fact. Benefits of Intercultural Communication • Intercultural communication helps to manage multiple cultural connections in a multicultural atmosphere. including healthier communities. individuals have to live together with the people from different nations.

” “They are all shy. we can reduce and manage conflict. business. regardless of group or cultural orientation. habits. • Healthy communities support all community members and strive to understand. • Effective intercultural communication can ultimately lower or remove walls and barriers of misunderstanding that separate human beings from one another. • A genuine community is a condition of togetherness in which people have lowered their defenses and learn to accept and celebrate their differences.” Intercultural Communication and Uncertainty • When we interact with someone from a different culture we are faced with a lot of uncertainty.” “They live on welfare.” “They are sneaky. including the global community. but instead must value our differences with others whether they can be about race.” “I wouldn’t trust them. behavior. • We can no longer define equality as “sameness”.” “They are all arrogant. and acknowledge each member. not just their own group. and so on.” “They are good at math.” “They think they know everything. appreciate. • Through cooperative intercultural communication. • The principles of community are applicable to any situation in which two people are gathered together.interculturality presupposes efforts and compromises on the part of both migrants or newcomers and host community. We may not know anything about the person’s culture. • Healthy communities are made up of individuals working collectively for the benefit of everyone. lifestyle. in the home. ethnicity. gender.” “They like to dance. • Through open and honest intercultural communication people can work together to achieve goals that benefit everyone.” “They smoke crack.” “They are materialistic. . or neighborhood. Common Stereotypes … about Blacks … about Whites … About Asians “They are lazy. • Communication is the foundation of all human relationships. or even occupation or professional discipline. values.” “They are all rich. dress.

I’ve been hearing things about you 3.We may not know what to say or do in such circumstances. Can you try to guess what this French gesture means? . • This can be accomplished via specific verbal and nonverbal communication strategies such as question asking and appropriate nonverbal expressiveness. Culture and Nonverbal Communication (A World of Gestures) • Can you guess the meaning of this Japanese gesture? 1. I’m scared like a bunny 2. especially when the other person is someone who we will meet again. • Often. This uncertainty about the other person may make us feel nervous and anxious. • Whenever we come together and interact with a stranger. when we are faced with high levels of uncertainty we experience anxiety. In high-uncertainty situations our primary goal is to reduce uncertainty and to increase the predictability about the other. I’m angry • This woman from France demonstrates this gesture. or behaves in some deviant way. our primary concern is to reduce uncertainty. provides rewards for us.

friends with the same sex never keep such a close distance. many of them believe that inner peace and wisdom come only through silence. But in America. “Silence speaks louder than sound”.1. • But in American culture. in response to the question “Will you marry me”. I wish I hadn’t seen that 3. Chinese people value silence more than the use of words. I am looking at a very handsome man • Can you guess what this Iranian gesture means? 1. The way human beings space themselves is determined by their culture and the particular relationships involved. speed. • For instance. silence in America would be interpreted as uncertainty. just as the old sayings • “Silence is gold”. I don’t believe you 2. pause and silence. . Good luck to you 2. • Example: Chinese do many more touches than Americans. “Screw You” (obscene) Body Space and Body Touch: • Various cultures have their own customs of different distance that make their people feel comfortable in personal conversation situations. volume. Paralanguage: • The vocal cues that accompany spoken language like the pitch. It is quite usual for the Chinese to walk hand in hand between the same sexes. People use the basic elements to transfer the emotional and intellectual meanings of their messages. etc. Such kind of behavior is considered homosexual in the west and is strongly disgusted. • Example: Different traditions view silence much differently. while in China it would be interpreted as acceptance. I succeeded everything! 3. Americans tend to think there is no communication in silence.

• Many nonverbal expressions vary from culture to culture. Thank you for your attention! . and what is accepted in one culture may be completely unacceptable in another making in some cases the nonverbal communication as a source of misunderstanding.