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Intercultural Communication Tips

Published: Tuesday, September 19, 2000

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01

When traveling, or interacting with people, use the following tips to achieve effective communications:

Developing Skills in Preparing for Intercultural Communication:

1. Try to be a facilitator:

It is helpful in intercultural relations to be able to link people together. We can serve an important liaison role through simple introductions and extra emphasis on commonalities. Oftentimes, knowing the right questions to ask can present others positively. In order to be an effective speaker, one must be sincerely willing to invest time and energy in others.

2. Own the first steps of your responsibility:

Many people often avoid the difficult task of communicating with someone from a culture other than their own. Try to assume the first steps in improving intercultural communication.

3. Work on developing a theory-oriented mindset:

Part of a theory-oriented mind-set includes looking for causes and effects, understanding social and historical forces behind new concepts, and creating new concepts yourself. Reasoning, analyzing facts and offering critiques are crucial skills in the intercultural communication process.

4. Develop fluency in speech:

Many people find that their communication skills need improving. It is difficult to go from what they are thinking to verbalizing their thoughts (“I know what I think – I just don’t know how to say it.”). The ability to express that diversity is essential. We must know how to explain our meanings in more than one way. We must force ourselves to find different ways of describing our feelings, thoughts, and behaviors.

5. Desire success with people:

Not only does effective intercultural communication involve getting a job accomplished, it also initiates and cultivates communication relationships.

Developing Skills in Understanding Intercultural Communication Axioms

1. Look beyond the surface:

Dress, custom, and presenting conditions (such as the weather) can all be superficial ways of judging culture. Try to go beyond the tourist level.

2. Develop a curiosity about the internals of culture. Be aware of structure, thought patterns and logic in intercultural relationships:

A sense of internal culture can heighten intercultural experiences and develop better relationships.

3. Look for ways in which perceptions of groups are molded by communication sources:

Family, friends, media, and educational sources all give us information about cultural groups. Question your sources to develop a sense of the accuracy of their stereotypes.

4. Discover ways that relationships affect content and content affects relationships:

How we feel about someone affects our messages. Messages can heighten or flatten our feelings about a person. Unfortunately, not all people mean what they say, so working through the person-versus-the message issue becomes an important aspect of communicating.

5. Broaden your views of culture to a notion of collectives:

Communication bonds emerge when people relate and share tasks. Develop a set of norms, structure, thought, procedure of relationship, and communication style. One way to measure a person’s intercultural growth is to visualize his or her ability to convey those kinds of factors in a number of groups and to look for the ways in which a culture exists for that group.

6. Question negative attributes you might hold toward a group:

Many people selectively perceive negative aspects of others. Develop the discipline to discover positive attributes to balance your view. You must first determine your biases before you can erase them.

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