PROBLEMS IN INTERCULTURAL COMMUNICATION
The problems in intercultural communication usually come from problems in message transmission. In communication between people of the same culture, the person who receives the message interprets it based on values, beliefs, and expectations for behavior similar to those of the person who sent the message. When this happens, the way the message is interpreted by the receiver is likely to be fairly similar to what the speaker intended. However, when the receiver of the message is a person from a different culture, the receiver uses information from his or her culture to interpret the message. The message that the receiver interprets may be very different from what the speaker intended.
Attribution is the process in which people look for an explanation of another person’s behavior. When someone does not understand another, he/she usually blames the confusion on the "wrong doing" of others.
Effective communication depends on the informal understandings among the parties involved that are based on the trust developed between them. When trust exists, there is implicit understanding within communication, cultural differences may be overlooked, and problems can be dealt with more easily. The meaning of trust and how it is developed and communicated vary across societies. Similarly, some cultures have a greater propensity to be trusting than others.
Nonverbal communication is behavior that communicates without words—though it often may be accompanied by words. Minor variations in body language, speech rhythms, and punctuality often cause mistrust and misperception of the situation among cross-cultural parties.
Kinesic behavior is communication through body movement—e.g., posture, gestures, facial expressions and eye contact. The meaning of such behavior varies across countries.
Occulesics are a form of kinesics that includes eye contact and the use of the eyes to convey messages.
Proxemics concern the influence of proximity and space on communication (e.g., in terms of personal space and in terms of office layout). For example, space communicates power in the US and Germany.
Paralanguage refers to how something is said, rather than the content of what is said—e.g., rate of speech, tone and inflection of voice, other noises, laughing, yawning, and silence.
Object language or material culture refers to how we communicate through material artifacts—e.g., architecture, office design and furniture, clothing, cars, cosmetics, and time.
In monochronic cultures, time is experienced linearly and as something to be spent, saved, made up, or wasted. Time orders life, and people tend to concentrate on one thing at a time.
In polychronic cultures, people tolerate many things happening simultaneously and emphasize involvement with people. In these cultures, people may be highly distractible, focus on several things at once, and change plans often.
INTERCULTURAL COMMUNICATION COMPETENCE
Intercultural communication is competent when it accomplishes the objectives in a manner that is appropriate to the context and relationship. Intercultural communication thus needs to bridge the dichotomy between appropriateness and effectiveness:
Proper means of intercultural communication leads to a 15% decrease in miscommunication.
• Appropriateness. Valued rules, norms, and expectations of the relationship are not violated significantly.
• Effectiveness. Valued goals or rewards (relative to costs and alternatives) are accomplished.
Competent communication is an interaction that is seen as effective in achieving certain rewarding objectives in a way that is also related to the context in which the situation occurs. In other words, it is a conversation with an achievable goal that is used at an appropriate time/location.
Components of intercultural competence
Intercultural communication can be linked with identity, which means the competent communicator is the person who can affirm the avowed identities of others. As well as goal attainment is also a focus within intercultural competence and it involves the communicator to convey a sense of communication appropriateness and effectiveness in diverse cultural contexts.
Ethnocentrism plays a role in intercultural communication. The capacity to avoid ethnocentrism is the foundation of intercultural communication competence. Ethnocentrism is the inclination to view one’s own group as natural and correct, and
all others as different.
People must be aware that to engage and fix intercultural communication there is no easy solution and there is not only one way to do so.
Listed below are some of the components of intercultural competence.
Context: A judgement that a person is competent is made in both a relational and situational context. This means that competence is not defined as a single attribute, meaning someone could be very strong in one section and only moderately good in another. Situationally speaking competence can be defined differently for different cultures. For example, eye contact shows competence in western cultures whereas, Asian cultures find too much eye contact disrespectful.
Appropriateness: This means that your behaviours are acceptable and proper for the expectations of any given culture.
Effectiveness: The behaviours that lead to the desired outcome being achieved.
Knowledge: This has to do with the vast information you have to have on the person's culture that you are interacting with. This is important so you can interpret meanings and understand culture-general and culture-specific knowledge.
Motivations:This has to do with emotional associations as they communicate interculturally. Feelings which are your reactions to thoughts and experiences have to do with motivation. Intentions are thoughts that guide your choices, it is a goal or plan that directs your behaviour. These two things play a part in motivation.