Intercultural communication is the process of understanding, developing relationships, and creating cross-cultural exchanges between different people, groups, organizations and cultures.
What is intercultural communication? It’s a difficult but fascinating subject. There are many misconceptions when it comes to this topic but that doesn’t mean its not important. In fact, there are a few things you should know before diving into this on your own.
Intercultural communication isn’t limited to just those that share one cultural identity. It can also involve those who have vastly different cultural identities. For example, an African American with a Brazilian father and Russian mother would have intercultural communication training.
Intercultural communication isn’t just about understanding other people. There are also 6 aspects of intercultural communication:
Communication competence: Communication skills are a requirement for all involved in any kind of intercultural exchange. This includes listening and being able to express oneself clearly and appropriately.
Cultural identity: Understanding the differences when it comes to culture is key. We need to be cognizant that cultures are not the same regardless of whether they originate from a different geographical location or they have different meanings to different individuals. For example, Americans may see a duck as food, but to a Japanese person it might represent longevity. Knowing how culture affects the meaning of symbols and signs is important in communication and interpretation.
Translation: There are two types of translation. There is the direct translation of messages, which includes information that can be translated word-for-word. Then there are idioms, which require a more complex approach to translation as they convey a different meaning outside of a literal term-for-word translation.
Media: Knowing how to use media effectively in cross cultural communication is also important. Immersion into other cultures through media has become increasingly popular as globalization increases and international travel becomes more accessible to all people. Different cultures may have different preferences when it comes to the media they use or trust most for news and entertainment purposes.
Cultural knowledge/awareness: Knowing how to behave in different cultures and interact with others is also a key part of intercultural communication. While we may find some behaviors to be odd or funny in another culture, we need to remember that there is a reason they behave the way they do.
Cultural conflicts: Understanding how cultural conflicts can affect our interactions and cross cultural communication is important when it comes to making friends, interacting at work, or migrating between countries. While there are many misunderstandings about cultural differences and their importance and impact, it isn’t always personal. Sometimes the problems we have with other people come down to a difference in culture, language or background rather than an individual person’s personality.