We might spend our life thinking that communicating with other countries are going to be a piece of cake; especially if we “know” a lot about the culture we’re communicating with by knowing their cuisine, language, how they dress, their marriage ceremony, whatsoever. Achieving that by watching movies, series or befriending people form that culture. And when the time comes and we travel to that culture we’re admiring and believing that we know quite well, we’ll immediately face a cultural shock.
No matter how well you know a country, how good you are speaking their language, how many friends you have from that country, as long as you aren’t born there and raised their, your communication with that country will always be intercultural communication even, for instance, you’ve lived for twenty years there. However, what will change is the degree of which your communication is being held with the citizens: MOST intercultural communication or LEAST intercultural communication. And this is the whole concept of the book; to know exactly how our communication is going to be with cultures different than ours, and what possibly we might face though this communication
Debra Reece and Rula Quawas did such a great job discussing the difference between Intercultural Communication and Intracultural one and what’s in between: Interethnic/Interracial Communication, Cross-cultural Communication and International Communication. Based on this, they emphasized that the world are divided into two cultural patterns: Collectivistic Cultures and Individualistic Cultures. Whatever culture you were dealing with (your own or different than yours) some tools must be applied or taken into consideration in order to improve intercultural communication, such as: display of respect, orientation to knowledge, tolerance for ambiguity and so on.
After achieving this, we can safely come to the nine dimensions are used to describe the dominant of a cultural power, Robert. J. House called it GLOBE; which is an acronym for Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness. They illustrated that these dimensions differ from country pattern to another (i.e. some might have it high and others might have it low).
Moreover, they argued about the nature of identity: Cultural Identity, Social Identity and Personal Identity. Providing the stages of developing cultural identity. I must admit that the chapters I liked the most were: Cultural Biases; were they introduced us to Social Categorizing, Ethnocentrism, Stereotyping, Prejudice -linked with- Discrimination, and Racism. And Nonverbal Messages; which are EXTREMELY IMPORTANT to know while dealing with different cultures, because what’s suitable and accepted in your culture can be rude or disrespectful to the person in other cultural. However, this includes body movement: gestures, head movement, facial expression, eye behaviors and so on. All these are known as Kinesics, which have different types: emblems, illustrators, affect displays, regulators and finally adaptors.
When knowing and understanding all these, we’ll protect ourselves from facing cultural shock due to misunderstanding, having it escalated to cultural clash, then, cultural shock. It’s important for me to say that this amazing book helped me to understand different cultural, and that, “People are the same, only their habits differ.”
Intercultural Communication: Unity in Diversity by Debra Reece and Rula Quawas
April 25, 2017 – Finished Reading
* I own a copy of this book.