Intercultural Communication Importance | Definition, examples & skills

Intercultural communication goes beyond than just speaking languagues, intercultural communication relays on the understanding of the different world cultures.
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Carlos' Opinion -
Intercultural Communication.

I studied a master in Hochschule Heilbronn about International Business & Intercultural Management. 

The part of the program also included topics related to the different cultures of the world.

Certainly, that part of the master was one of the most enjoyables ones, and mainly because on our generation, we were a group that had people from all around the world.

Of course, I can’t say we were totally global, and we didn’t have from any single country, but certainly we had the opportunity to experience knowing different cultures.

We were people from Asia, from Europe, from African descendents, and of course from America.

I do think that what enriches this type of master degree was the classmates and professors who eventually become friends and even family.

Learning about the different perspectives about their cultures, make me understand how they live, they act, they react and enjoy and love life.

I don’t know if I can say it was luck, but every different aspect of every single person, regardless of their nationality, religion, sexual orientation and more, we were able to build a coehersive, comprehensive and united group.

Of course, we were not always together, but somehow we managed to build up a united group during our period of time at Hochschule Heilbronn.

And what was the lesson learned?

Well, as easy as the practice that we had each and single day about intercultural communication.

Living in Germany and in Europe, makes it even easier to have constant communication with international communities.

Heilbronn is one of the german cities with the biggest number of different nationalities in Germany, as far as I know.

Studying, living and working in Heilbronn was the opportunity to develop my intercultural communication skills.

Skills that went more than just changing that languagte we spoke in between.

Intercultural communication goes more than just switching from spanish to english, or to german.

Intercultural communication also goes in understanding their culture, their believes and desires.

International communities have different background, but as in my case, international people living in a city such as Heilbronn, or any other, the aim was also to enjoy and love our lives, regardless of where we were, and with whom.

The intercultural communication skills and values developed are the tolerance, respect, comprehension and even problem solving from different perspectives.

Also, in an professional environment, being able to communicate with Germans in order to keep improving and reach results was important to learn to adapt.

At ARP Europe, the team had the objective of working with 6 different countries.

And in Bechtle, the aim was more on a coporate basis.

I continue with this topics created by the redaction team so that hopefully it helps you as well how important it is intercultural communication, its definition, examples and skills that can help you as well.

Everything is connected, and as we might think that our actions don’t affect other city, region, and country, we are wrong.

At the end, I think we are citizens of the World, and our job is to make our squared meter better.

 

Plakat-Barraza-MIBIM-final

What is Intercultural Communication?

Unfortunately, as advanced as the world has become, intercultural communication is still not given the importance it deserves.

This continues to generate conflicts in every part of the world.

Learn in this article how denial of a practice can lead to racism, misunderstandings, and more in order to build a bridge to a more comprehensive, tolerant, diverse and respectful behavior.

When we talk about intercultural communication, we are referring to communication between speakers of different languages and cultures.

It cannot occur between people who belong to the same part of the world. 

The interlocutors who participate in these intercultural encounters have previously undergone different socialization processes and have thus been able to develop different frameworks of knowledge.

It is their intercultural competence that enables them to meet their communicative needs effectively. 

When speaking of the study of intercultural communication, it should be noted that it was born, or had its beginnings, in the United States in the 1940s, when linguistic and anthropological information began to be offered to the diplomatic personnel of the country where it is recognized as the origin of everything. 

If we want to attribute the beginning of intercultural studies beyond the intercultural field, then we must highlight the work The Silent Way, which was published in 1959 by Edward T. Hall.

Something that undoubtedly started a movement that was not going to stop advancing.

After the two relevant events that took place, and which we have already mentioned, in 1960 an event of equal importance occurred.

And it is that the interest in knowing more about an effective way to communicate between cultures increased with the creation of the Peace Corps. 

Today, a distinction can be made between two types of intercultural communication. The first is interpersonal, which occurs between individuals.

The second is mediated, established between the media and members of society. Both are interrelated.

 

Attitudes for effective cross-cultural communication

In 1999, M. Rodrigo revealed five attitudes that would be the keys to effective intercultural communication.

From the moment of their publication, they were valued, and they are the following:

That the interlocutors are motivated to learn about the other culture, and show empathy with every aspect of it.

That the interlocutors become aware of their own culture and what their communication processes are.

That the interlocutors pay attention to each of the elements that are part of what is known as non-verbal communication.

That the interlocutors pay attention to each of the elements that are part of what is known as non-verbal communication.

That the interlocutors keep in mind, and accept, that misunderstandings are also part of intercultural encounters. And it is also possible to learn aspects of other cultures from them.

That the participating interlocutors make a real effort to interpret the meaning and intention of the words expressed by the other party. In other words, this can be important not only to understand the meaning of the message, but also to understand the illocutive force that goes hand in hand with it.

Intercultural Communication Advantages

Although there are a couple of difficulties with intercultural communication, one can also see the positive side of it.

There are many advantages to be gained from what some people may not yet realize is a practice that can become a determining factor in the future of the world. 

One of the main advantages of intercultural communication is the fact that it promotes gentleness and courtesy.

It is not necessary to fully understand every detail of a culture, its practices or beliefs, but it is vital that there be respect for them. 

It can also be mentioned that it is a great benefit when you want to learn the habits and expectations of a culture before getting involved in any kind of economic situation with it. This is why many countries conduct these studies before entering into agreements. 

From one’s own point of view, when a group of people take the time to prepare themselves for a different culture it will help that there is a culture shock.

This will make them, with the transition, accept every aspect of the other, without losing the same. 

Apart from that, when you are conducting a cross-cultural conversation you learn to pay attention to other details that are not necessarily people’s words.

You learn to study actions, facial expressions, and tone of voice.

This is especially true in high-context cultures. 

This is achieved because we come to realize that there are many signals within a conversation that are not verbal in nature.

These are often the key to fully understanding the message we are receiving, something that avoids misunderstanding.

Intercultural communication is also important in the working world.

There are many benefits of intercultural communication that we can point out as advantages of intercultural communication.

Not only should it be seen as the perfect opportunity to learn from different cultures, but also from people different from the ones we socialize with on a daily basis.

In the modern world this is a more than important practice, having a good aptitude and knowing how to handle intercultural communication is a more than necessary requirement for many jobs.

Especially if you are one of those who dream that your company will send you to its branch office on the other side of the world.

It should be seen as a major advantage that it allows us to develop a great understanding of otherness and what is foreign.

It also helps us to recognize all the humanity and diversity that can exist in parts of the world we may not even know existed.

However, this is not a fact that does not allow us to benefit personally.

The advantages of intercultural communication can be modified to suit our work environment, as well as the fact of traveling to foreign countries and better adapt to the environment.

Why intercultural communication is important

At this point of the article it seems that we have already talked a lot about why intercultural communication is important.

But the truth is that it is a practice of which we can still emphasize many aspects that help us to give it the value it really deserves. 

In the world there is a great variety of ideologies, beliefs and different languages that can create conflicts for the simple fact of not knowing them.

And, if we really want to make this planet a more empathetic place with others, we must take the time to study at least the basics. 

You may not know this, but it is ideologies that justify our actions, systems and the way we all think.

The people who are in charge of creating and defining cultures do so with their ideology in mind.

That is why the study of ideology is essential to understand the culture of others. 

We often encounter people who believe that their culture is superior to any other, and this is a fundamental problem for the world.

Ethnocentrism is a problem that contributes to the formation of racism, discrimination and also prejudice among people from different parts of the world. 

Ethnocentrism can perhaps be attributed to globalization, progress and modernity.

Many industrialized and modernized cultures believe that they are the best there is, and every other culture should follow their model in order to be at least somewhat respectable. 

The importance of intercultural communication lies in the fact that, by knowing who we are, what we think and what we do, we allow ourselves to know more about those who are different from us without judging, just to understand aspects about them and also to learn to coexist and respect their way of being.

Caring about knowing others can help us improve ourselves.

In some cases it has been ethnocentrism itself that has led many cultures to neglect aspects of their own to worry about what they think is wrong, or deviant, in others. 

When we want to look at our neighbor to point out what is wrong, and try to change it by force, we are not able to look at those aspects that can make us grow and create a two-way learning environment, where there is so much empathy that both cultures take positive traits from each other and implement them. 

The issue of ethnocentrism, and everything that stems from it, has to do with people not recognizing the importance of cross-cultural communication. 

So many issues, such as those mentioned above, could be healed simply by changing the way we see the other.

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