Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Intercultural Communications and You!

When communicating with other cultures, there are rules of etiquette to remember called the Ten Commandments of Intercultural Communication, (Hahn, 2005).

Although I am a stay-at-home mom, I plan on joining the workforce again in a few years. Once I begin my new job, observing the Ten Commandments of Intercultural Communication will aid me in facilitating and sustaining healthy professional relationships.

I. Be aware of differing social values;
II. Be aware of differing status symbols and how to demonstrate them;
III. Be aware of decision making customs: not all people like to make decisions quickly and efficiently;
IV. Be aware of concepts of time: not all people like to see time as money;
V. Be aware of personal space: people from different cultures have different 'comfort zones';
VI. Be aware of cultural context: people from certain cultures (called 'high-context cultures) rely less on verbal communication and more on the context of nonverbal actions and environmental settings to convey meaning. People from low-context cultures like the USA rely more on verbal communication and less on circumstances and implied meaning to convey meaning;
VII. Be aware of body language: learn the basic differences in the way people supplement their words with body movement;
VIII. Be aware of different etiquette rules or manners: what is polite in one culture may be considered rude in another;
IX. Be aware of legal and ethical behavior;
X. Be aware of language barriers: English is the most prevalent language in international business, but it's a mistake to assume that everyone understands it.
To say that the United States is a melting pot is an obvious statement. With that fact being recognized, it is still easy to see many people disregarding respect for other cultures. While I was a retail manager, I noticed many employees unjustly mocking customers or other employees for being different. Simply because they did not agree with or understand another person's religious, cultural, or personal beliefs, said employees felt it within their right to judge. I come from a bi-racial family that is mixed with African-American, Irish, Puerto Rican, French, with the list going on and on. I am certain more Americans have the same family history running through their veins, and simply are unaware of such lineage. 

The plethora of cultures present at my own family gatherings has made me more accepting of others. Language barriers can make communication more difficult, but a true professional or better yet, a true human being is willing to work around such minor details. There are many other cultures that rely on body language as the major factor in communication, therefore communicating with other cultures may be as easy as smiling warmly and bowing to acknowledge respect, (Hahn, 2005).

Hahn, M. (2005, December 30). Ten Commandments of Intercultural Communication. Retrieved on July 28, 2010, from

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