There are barriers to intercultural communication in today’s world. Language barriers, cultural barriers, and even personal barriers that people have for interacting with different cultures can be difficult barriers to cross when trying to communicate between two people. This essay will discuss the three types of barriers that exist in our society today and how they affect intercultural communication.
Even fewer people can communicate effectively across a cultural gap, and even fewer individuals can express themselves in another language when there is a cross-cultural barrier. Cross-cultural or intercultural communication is one aspect of the encounter between individuals from diverse backgrounds and cultures.
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There have been a number of studies in the field of intercultural communication, and they’ve all had different researchers looking at various ways various people from different backgrounds engage with one another and how they go about their daily lives. The topic also explores the difficulties that an individual may confront when attempting to communicate with others from diverse cultures and heritages. This paper will examine the amount of barriers that one encounters while engaging in intercultural communication.
Anxiety is a state of mind in which a person feels uneasy and nervous. It’s sometimes linked with an unrealistic terror sensation. Anxiety generally happens when someone has his or her first cross-cultural encounter (Communicaid 2).
Individuals are frequently worried when they don’t know what to anticipate from their counterparts or how to interact with them, resulting in a lot of worries. Individuals who are apprehensive frequently commit minor errors that might result in significant issues for both parties engaged in the transaction. For instance, it’s quite common for greetings in the UAE to be physical in nature, such as hugs and lengthy handshakes, which are very popular (Communicaid 2).
The most effective method to relieve such dread is to learn as much about the other person’s culture as possible (Coopman and Lull). It would be far better if you looked into methods they use to conduct their business. Anxiety may be significantly reduced if information is obtained ahead of time, and a good encounter can be achieved (Communicaid 2).
Ethnocentrism is a form of prejudice in which someone stereotypes another culture and heritage as being lesser than their own (Coopman and Lull). The idea generally implies that society is morally correct and reasonable in all ways.
When such people come into contact with someone from a different culture or heritage, they are unwilling to accept that person’s viewpoint or view a specific situation from their own perspective. In rare situations, Ethnocentrism may lead to racism (Coopman and Lull 52). Ethnocentrism is usually unintentional, and individuals are unaware of the effects of what they’re doing on cultural and communication gaps (Coopman and Lull 52).
Ethnocentrism cannot be predicted ahead of time, and there’s no way to prevent it. However, dealing with ethnocentrism is quite easy; different techniques may produce fast good results. Respect for other cultures’ differences can significantly reduce the incidence of ethnocentric viewpoints. The next stage is to raise people’s awareness of other cultures’ customs (Coopman and Lull 52).
Assumption of similarity
People think that two civilizations are not distinct, but they are comparable in their character. If an Arab prefers coffee to tea, for example, it’s assumed that coffee is popular in the UAE. This isn’t always correct since people from various backgrounds have distinct tastes. The preference of one individual or a group of individuals does not represent the whole culture (Communicaid 2).
When it comes to interacting with other cultures, one must not make any preconceived judgments about their counterpart nations’ culture. To be safe, assume that the two nations have no cultural distinctions between them. The easiest method to go about things is to act and operate in an organized manner (Communicaid 2).
When people are given the impression that they have to choose between being right or being nice, it can work for them. However, in some situations, adopting such a perspective may result in more misunderstanding and confusion. For example, refusing any offering made by an Arab is considered an insult in the Arab culture. A person may usually reject the present because there is no implication of causing offence by declining it. Research into the opposing country’s culture might help mitigate these difficulties (Communicaid 2).
Another significant and essential barrier to cross-cultural communication is prejudice. Prejudice refers to unfounded judgments cast on certain groups or people (Flinders 3). It means a basic negative view formed by individuals based on race, ethnicity, religion, class, or language.
Definitely, in cross-cultural settings when people from diverse backgrounds join others from different cultures, there are problems with prejudice (Jandt). In such a cross-cultural setting, preconceptions are passed before there is any communication or interaction. Prejudice is based on irrational thinking developed by the majority for the minority. And this manifests itself as a breakdown of communication routines.
Prejudice, according to Jandt (2010), is defined as irrational hatred – a gap that forms on the basis of prejudice against a certain group, religion, cast or race. In this manner, prejudice is a cause of cross-cultural communication blockage because it provides an opportunity for members of certain groups to be victimized. When victimization exists, there is also a lack of communication (Jandt 83-85).
Employees working on a contract basis in the UAE face an uphill battle due to prejudice. Employees from developing nations like Pakistan, India, or Bangladesh are seen as unskilled laborers in the UAE with a communication gap with their workers (Communicaid 2). This is how bias affects communication in the workplace and at work (Communicaid 2).
The exchange of information and ideas is limited by language. It refers to a source that conveys values, thoughts, and notions between two exchanges. Communication difficulties can arise if there are cultural differences between the exchange groups (Velo 66).
International companies have developed technologies to address this. Standardized English as an international language has reduced the problem of cross-cultural communication for these businesses. Now everyone who joins a multinational firm learns English (the most popular language) and reduces the gap in global work collaboration (Velo 66).
Finally, specialists in areas of cross-cultural communication, anthropology can assist remove language obstacles. Cross-cultural communication experts are capable of removing language barriers (Velo). Furthermore, to increase the speaker’s speaking rate and language usage, special training programs may be offered. This is how languages might be reduced and controlled for successful intercultural communication (Velo 66).
Another significant barrier to intercultural communication is cultural relativism, which is the belief that one’s own customs and beliefs should be enhanced at the expense of others. Cultural relativism (Flinders 7) refers to the refusal to acknowledge others’ values and cultures in order to promote one’s own. Cultural relativism is a viewpoint that indicates the superiority of a certain group. It’s just like imposing your ideas on other people’s morals and ideas (Flinders 7).
The idea of cultural relativism is prevalent in the UAE’s small and medium businesses, where workers are urged to adapt to the existing culture (Flinders). The companies keep their employees within the bounds of the static culture, which has an impact on international communication (Zechente 333). Employees who join businesses are alienated from the system, which they maintain in their peer conversations. This is how a weak communication network develops and grows throughout UAE small and medium-sized enterprises (Zechente).
The interaction of people occurs through communication, which is the transmission of information between two specific groups. It’s a skill that some individuals have and, in particular, those who live in a multicultural environment. People communicate with one another across cultures.
People from different value systems, lifestyles, and backgrounds confront difficulties in intercultural communication. There are several challenges to intercultural communication. Prejudice, anxiety, ethnocentrism, language differences, and the assumption of sameness are among the most significant barriers to consider.
On the final node, these impediments are significant and must be overcome in order for cross-cultural communication to work. A solution for cross-cultural communicators is that people must have a fundamental understanding of each other’s cultures and beliefs. The impact of these blocking mechanisms will be reduced when people participate in a cross-cultural conversation.
Humans have communicated since the dawn of civilization, four million years ago. Culture, on the other hand, is thought to have emerged 35,000 years ago. Both culture and communication have developed considerably in recent times and are now mutually dependent, to the point that communication is considered a product of culture.
As a result, our own culture has a major influence on our thoughts and actions. Because each society possesses its own set of characteristics, cross-cultural communication might lead to conflict and disharmony. There are three primary issues at the heart of the problem of intercultural misunderstanding: language as a barrier, cultural diversity and ethnocentrism.
In this instance, miscommunication is said to be caused by a lack of diversity. Nonverbal communication varies from culture to culture in form. Gestures and facial expressions are essential for communication. Each society, on the other hand, has its own set of gestures as well as ignoring others. It is common in most Western cultures to shake hands when being introduced.
Although shaking hands is frowned upon in most oriental countries, they believe that bowing is the only polite way to greet one another. Non-verbal communication extends beyond facial expressions and gestures; it includes everything from seat arrangements to personal distance and sense of time. Furthermore, differing views on how assertive a person should be in communicating can contribute to cultural misunderstandings.
Some white people believe that raising the voice indicates a fight has started, while other black, Jewish, and Italian Americans think an increase in volume shows a good conversation among pals. As a result, members of several white ethnic or non-white racial groups may be more scared by a loud dispute than whites are. Furthermore, there are many different cultures with their own customs and traditions.
In today’s competitive international economy, frequent cross-border movements of personnel occur, resulting in a greater variety among employees. As cultures come into contact with one another, communication breakdown is unavoidable. The difficulties to intercultural communication are known as such. These barriers to interethnic communication prevent effective interaction and limit global integration.
Four major barriers to intercultural communication have been identified, and they will be discussed in further depth. Anxiety; Assuming Similarity Instead of Difference; Ethnocentrism; Prejudices and Stereotypes; Nonverbal Misinterpretations; Modern Technology – These are the five barriers. The First Barrier is Fear of Public Speaking.
This is especially likely when someone first joins a new company or workplace in which he or she is totally unfamiliar with. When people are not aware of what they are supposed to do, they become more anxious and will unconsciously pay attention to their emotions rather than the surrounding circumstances. As a result, individuals who are in such circumstances may fail to listen to what others have to say.
For example, on one’s first day at a new job, one may have experienced anxiety. He may be overly conscious of being new and out of place, focusing so much attention on the sensation that he makes frequent mistakes and appears strange to others (Sagepub 2003). The second barrier is taking for granted what is similar rather than what is unique.
There are many distinctions among cultures, therefore one should not assume that everyone working in the same environment follows the same culture. Cultural difference is a delicate subject, and it’s tempting to jump to conclusions. It’s possible to distinguish between individuals or an organization based on their customs. Because children are raised differently, there is cultural disparity between people.
When they were young, their parents or other figures in their lives instilled certain values and concepts in them, and these influences continue to shape the culture they embrace today. When one company’s staff adhere to different standards from another company’s employees, cultural variance occurs.
Employees of a Singapore firm typically leave work on time, but employees of a Japanese firm frequently work longer hours than are required. This is due to the various attitudes they held at work. The Japanese are more dedicated to their work than the locals. When one has no knowledge of a new culture, it may be reasonable to assume that there are no distinctions and to act as he does at home. Nonetheless, each society is distinct and unique in its own way (Sagepub 2003).
As a result, it is always preferable to inquire rather than assume. The third barrier is ethnocentrism. It refers to assessing another culture based on one’s own cultural norms. When someone makes ethnocentric judgments, he or she believes that their culture is superior to others’ and strongly believes in the superiority of one’s own culture. Everything in a society has its place if you can see its value. Culture shock, on the other hand, may lead to extreme behavior (Sagepub 2003).
This implies that when individuals are exposed to a new culture, they might go through a period in which they regard the new culture as worse than their own and hence cannot agree or conform to it. Assume that an American employee who worked for a company with human-oriented leadership was transferred to work for a Japanese boss who is demanding and task-oriented. Will this individual be able to adapt to the new culture?
He may be required to work long hours every day, which may be inconvenient for him since he has other obligations such as spending time with his family and children. Stereotypes and prejudices are the fourth barriers to good intercultural communication. This is one of the most serious barriers today, being used to determine unjust and unequal treatment.
Stereotypes and preconceptions may exist between different races, religions, and beliefs in today’s world. In countries like Indonesia, there are stereotypes between Muslims and Christians. There were prejudices against ladies in the past. Many people feel that women are less capable than men in most areas, particularly those involving their successful job as well as their family. This prejudice, however, is no longer apparent in today’s society
People’s views have altered, and the phenomenon of more women entering the workplace and outperforming men has become more common. They’ve shown to be as competent as males when it comes to juggling both career and family responsibilities. Some are actually more capable due to their higher level of education. As a result, they are wiser and richer than ever before. The fifth barrier is misinterpreting non-verbal cues.
Nonverbal cues and symbols are interpreted differently in different cultures. When the signs or symbols are read differently from their original meaning, this can lead to misunderstanding. Asians, for example, are typically more conservative than Westerners. A typical Chinese employee who has never been exposed to a western culture may find it absurd for her new western employer to hug and kiss her on the cheek upon their first meeting.
The second barrier is that, because she may see this act as too frightening, she will naturally believe that her employer wants to take advantage of her, putting her in an uncomfortable situation. The sixth barrier is language. Although English is the dominant language in business settings, this barrier exists in many organizations. Slang, dialects, and accents are the three primary elements of language.
There are numerous terms used to describe people from countries other than China. A Chinese national may not understand what his Western employer says, and vice versa. This creates language problems since the employee might only speak English poorly while the boss can’t communicate in Mandarin to deliver the message he wants to send. Even within the same language, there are various usages of certain words based on distinct cultural norms.
Finally, the introduction of contemporary technology, particularly the Internet, is the last barrier. This easier access and cheaper option of communication has not only benefited people all over the world but also facilitated globalization. However, when individuals throughout the world begin to use Short Message Service (SMS) and emails frequently, cultural mayhem may result.
This is so since the expressions of the receivers can only be inferred through assumptions. As a result, formalities and business etiquette that lead to a breakdown in communication are removed with these electronic tools (Sagepub 2003). In conclusion, the many obstacles to intercultural communication are costly for multinational corporations in terms of workplace interactions, earnings, customer relationships, and company advantages (Sagepub 2003).
The factors or circumstances that impede successful intercultural communication are known as barriers. There are numerous obstacles to effective intercultural communication, which may happen at any point throughout the conversion process. Barriers might distort the message and, as a result, but both time and money at risk, especially in an organization. Confusion and misunderstanding are caused by the following types of barriers. The lack of cultural flexibility is the most common reason for misunderstanding in intercultural encounters. People frequently enter cross-cultural interactions with preconceived ideas, making it impossible to establish any common ground (Jandt, 2001).
Inequality. In terms of power, “unequal power is the degree to which less powerful individuals in a nation expect and accept that authority is distributed unevenly” (Hofstede, 1997, p. 28). Superiors are reliant on subordinates in some cultures on a limited basis, making it simple for employees to contact and communicate with their bosses. In contrast, certain cultural communities prefer a centralized form of power. There is only a moderate reliance on subordinators by superiors. Different worldviews. People are identified as distinct, which implies that they have different belief systems and world views.