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Interpersonal Communication Essay

3942 words - 16 pages

Interpersonal Communication in an Intercultural Setting 

Cultural growth in the twenty-first century has heightened the 
emphasis on interpersonal communication in an intercultural 
setting. As our world grows, expands and becomes increasingly more 
interconnected by various technological advances, the need for 
effective interpersonal communication among differing cultures has 
become quite clear. Due to the advancement of technology in 
today's world, a world in which some businesspeople are involved in 
transactions with other businesspeople in faraway countries, the 
call for knowledge of intercultural communication within this 
setting has become a reality. Interpersonal ...view middle of the document...


Intercultural communication is a symbolic, interpretive, 
transactional, contextual processing tool with which people 
from different cultures create shared meanings (Berko et al, 
1998). When we speak to someone with whom we share little or 
no cultural bond, it is referred to as intercultural 
communication. Our need to communicate across culture can be 
very beneficial personally and professionally. Within an 
intercultural setting, nonverbal and verbal communication are 
both prevalent in emphasizing the differences in cultures. The 
way we act and the things we say determine whether or not we 
belong in a certain culture. Nonverbal communication systems 
provide information about the meaning associated with the use 
of space, time, touch and gestures. They help to define the 
boundaries between the members and nonmembers of a culture 
(Koester at al, 1993). In order to fully enjoy and benefit 
from interpersonal communication in an intercultural setting, 
one must first gain a fu! ll, comprehensive knowledge of the 
determining factors of culture. There are several ways of defining 
culture. Webster's dictionary defines culture as " . . . a particular 
civilization at a particular stage" or " . . . all the knowledge and 
values shared by a society.". A second approach emphasizes the social 
heredity of a group of people, suggesting that the new members of a 
culture must be taught its fundamental ideas, practices and 
experiences. The social heredity approach therefore asserts that 
culture is symbolically transmitted, often "handed down" through 
ensuing generations, from parents or other adults to children, who in 
turn grow up and teach their own children the culture's customs and 
expectations. This approach is important because it emphasizes that 
one does not become a member of a culture by birth, but rather through 
a process of learning. The word ^culture' is often considered in terms 
of nationality or one's country of origin. Other more specific dist! 
inguishing characteristics of culture are region, orientation, 
socioeconomic status, gender, sexual orientation and preference, age, 
marital and parental status. Another approach to understanding the 
concept of culture involves the beliefs, values and norms that exist to 
guide an individual's behaviors in solving common problems. This 
approach, often called the perceptual or subjective culture approach, 
suggests that people behave as they do because of the perceptions they 
have about the world and their expectations about how they should 
behave in that world. Harry Triandis defines subjective culture as "a 
cultural group's characteristic way of perceiving the man-made part of 
its environment. The perception of rules and the group's norms, roles 
and values are aspects of subjective culture." This approach 
emphasizes that culture is a shared set of ideas and practices that 
exist in people's minds. This shared set of...

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