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INTERCULTURAL COMMUNICATION

Intercultural communication is defined as the


symbolic exchange process whereby
individuals from two or more different cultural
communities negotiate shared meanings in an
interactive situation

1. Explain the meaning of ICEBERG as the most popular metaphor of Culture


An ICEBERG: you are the captain of a boat, sailing in the sea, you can see
something above the waterline (part of an iceberg that is visible), but part of it under
the waterline that you cant see Culture is like an iceberg: the deeper layers
(traditions, beliefs, values) are hidden from our view. We tend to see and hear only the
uppermost layers of cultural artifacts (fashion, pop music). We can also witness the
exchange of overt verbal and nonverbal symbols. However, to understand a culture, or
a person in a cultural community, with any depth, we have to match their underlying
values coherently with their respective norms, meanings and symbols.

2. Define and use examples to illustrate the three levels of culture


Culture: a learned meaning system that consists of patterns of traditions, beliefs,
values, norms, meanings, and symbols that are passed on from one generation to the
next and are shared to varying degrees by interacting members of a community.
A. Surface-level culture: popular culture
1. Culture is like an iceberg: Deeper layers are hidden (e.g., traditions, beliefs,
and values).
2. Popular culture is the most surface level and refers to cultural artifacts or
systems that have mass appeal and that infiltrate our daily life.
3. U.S. popular culture tends to dominate the global market and includes
sources such as U.S. films, televisions shows, pop music, and icons such as
Disneyland, McDonalds, Coca Cola, and Nike.
4. Key to understanding surface-level culture is to realize that individuals on a
global level form images of another culture based on surface-level encounters
and fleeting images on television or in sensational news coverage.
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B. Intermediate-level culture: symbols, meanings, and norms
1. Symbol: a sign, artifact, word(s), gesture, or nonverbal behavior that stands
for or reflects something meaningful; language is a symbol system.
2. Meanings or interpretations that we attach to a symbol can cue both
objective and subjective reactions.
3. Cultural norms refer to collective expectations of what constitutes proper or
improper behavior in a given interaction scene.
3.1. The setting can include cultural context or physical context.
3.2. The interaction goal refers to the objective of the meeting.
3.3. The relationship expectation feature refers to how much role
formality/informality or task/social tone you want to forge in the interaction.

3.4. Cultural competence skills refer to the cultural knowledge you


have internalized and the operational skills you are able to apply in the
communication scene.
C. Deep-level culture: Traditions, beliefs, and values
1. Normative culture refers to a patterned way of living by a group of
interacting individuals who share a common set of history, traditions, beliefs,
and values, and an interdependent fate.
2. Subjective culture refers to the individual level, whereby members of a
culture can attach different degrees of importance to cultural beliefs and values.
3. Culturally shared traditions can include myths, legends, ceremonies, and
rituals passed on from one generation to the next via an oral or written medium;
they reinforce ingroup solidarity, communal memory, cultural stability, and
continuity functions.
4. Culturally shared beliefs refer to fundamental assumptions or worldviews
that people hold dearly to their hearts without question; these beliefs can
revolve around questions as to human origins, concepts of time, space, reality,
the existence of a supernatural being and so on.
5. Cultural values refer to priorities that guide good or bad behavior,
desirable or undesirable practices, and fair or unfair actions.
5.1 Instrumental values are process values that serve as guidelines or
preferable modes of conduct in the pursuit of certain valued existential
outcomes (behaving politely, acting with self-discipline, thinking logically, and
acting responsibly).
5.2 Terminal values refers to end goals or preferable end states (a
meaningful life, an adventurous life, a sense of accomplishment, and a life with
social recognition).
3. Define and use examples to illustrate the four stages of developing
intercultural communication flexibility
A staircase model: four stages of flexible intercultural communication
Unconscious
Unconscious Conscious

Competence Stage
Conscious

Incompetence
Incompetence
Stage
Competence
Stage
Stage

1.Unconscious incompetence is an ignorance stage in


which an individual is unaware of the communication
blunders he has committed in interacting with a cultural stranger.
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2.Conscious incompetence: Individual is aware of her incompetence in
communicating with members of the new culture but does not

do

anything

to

change her behavior in the new cultural situation.


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3.Conscious competence: individual is aware of his intercultural communication
nonfluency and is committed to integrate the new knowledge, attitude, and skills
into competent practice.
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4.Unconscious competence occurs when an individual is spontaneously practicing
her intercultural knowledge and skills to the extent that the intercultural interaction
process flows smoothly and from an out-of-conscious awareness rhythm.

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4. Develop an initial appreciation for connecting intercultural communication
knowledge with everyday intercultural communication practice
Communicating flexibly: A flexible communicator practices the following:
1. Convergent thinking:

focuses on synthesis and analytical problem-

solving to reach a clearly-defined outcome


2. Divergent thinking: emphasizes a fluid thinking pattern-the ability to
switch from one perspective to another, connecting unrelated ideas in a meaningful
fashion--and the ability to bring a new idea to completion
3. Mindful cultural scanning involves
a.being open to new intercultural concepts and ideas.
b.being receptive to the fact that multiple lenses exist in framing an
intercultural incident.
c.being committed to or receptive to the multiple lenses when
applying divergent cultural viewpoints in analyzing a miscommunication situation.
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