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Facilitating Intercultural Communication through Cross-Cultural Awareness
Posted by :MoroccoEnglishPosted date : February 23, 2017In ELT articles, FeaturedComments Off on Facilitating Intercultural Communication through Cross-Cultural Awareness
The speech one uses in a daily exchange is either direct or indirect in accordance with the cultural devices one belongs to. The emergence of pragmatics in the sixties and seventies has started a big wave that calls for cross-cultural awareness in order to communicate effectively amongst cultures within the same and across different societies.
Having lack awareness of other cultures surely will lead to complicated communication with individuals holding divergent cultural norms. Putting it differently, a person will face difficulties while communicating to the extent that s/he may not be able to infer what is actually meant by what is said. Stereotypes, for example, are widely held beliefs about a group of people that can bring complexity to cross-cultural communication. For instance, an Asian man points out “My wife and I went to a shopping mall to buy some cosmetics when we were in America. After comparing several products, my wife decided to buy a brand which is a kind of expensive. When she went to pay for the cosmetic, the salesclerk saw our Asian faces and we also probably looked like students”. She said “You can’t buy this. This is over one hundred dollars” (Martin & Nakayama, 2010, p. 55).
One may infer from this quote that some Americans construct a belief – owing to a lack of cross-cultural awareness – that Asian people experience harsh poverty and therefore can’t buy expensive goods, especially students. By using the word “can’t” the salesclerk definitely presupposes that Asians are unable to pay much for such products, which is unacceptable behavior in terms of cross-cultural communication. Therefore, it is better not to measure others’ actions or behaviors in accordance to one’s cultural norms, beliefs, or ideologies.
Moreover, some insensitive expressions are widely used by some momentous western media outlets, particularly when the talk is about religion or culture of the east. It generally indicates negative stereotypes about Muslim people in the western countries. For instance, they treat Muslims as violent, terrorists and/or extremists, as well as barbaric and backward people. Besides, they consider Islam to be a religion that oppresses and devalue women.
This armada of judgments manifests two main points. First, people who propagate these thoughts are culturally unaware, or; second, they are doing this propaganda intentionally to falsify Islam. By doing so, these media outlets have an impact on misleading the audience by controlling and redirecting their thoughts and attitudes away from Islam. Although, the principles of Islam proves the opposite of what some western TV channels or radio stations propagate.
As a member of this small world, I believe that we don’t have the right to hold passive beliefs about a group of people, their cultures, and beliefs – whatever they are. I must at least respect people’s cultural norms and customs that differ from mine, thus, creating an atmosphere where love and peace cover peoples under the one umbrella. These negative beliefs or stereotypes, which are expressed either directly or indirectly, verbally or non-verbally, lead to cross-cultural miscommunication. In short, these unfavorable prejudices suspend gumption of cross-cultural interaction between nations and communities.
It is assumed that one cannot be entirely aware of the world’s cultures to communicate effectively without boundaries. However, it is simple to identify some differences among a person’s own culture and the well-known cultures of Africa, America, Asia or Europe. So, it does not harm if one respects the cultural patterns of other nations across the world though they are different from one’s own for better global communication.
Accordingly, one may excel in one’s relationship with all kinds of people around the world and overcome miscommunicating and stereotyping. If it happens, for example, to meet someone from Turkey, Japan, or maybe from Egypt, then it is not required for a person to be aware of their cultural patterns so as to communicate effectively; however, it should be obvious that the other’s cultural patterns are different. This indicates that anybody ought to respect another person’s cultural devices without judging them, in addition to treating them as if they belong to his own culture.
Summing up, people with different cultural backgrounds may face difficulties while taking part in an exchange, which affects the “give and take” rule due to the fact that cultures are different and will stay different forever. However, respecting these differences is an appropriate solution to keep living in this world peacefully with people of diverse cultural backgrounds.
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