The Role Of Culture And Self-Awareness In Interpersonal Communication
The impact of culture on communication
Various technological advancements have been key in bridging the gap between people in terms of time as well as distance as barriers to effective communication. However, despite these advancements, culture, as well as social orientation, remain formidable obstacles (Tone et al.2009). Culture plays a significant role in interpersonal relationships and could be a challenge if not properly addressed. This is mainly because communication processes are visible in varying cultural contexts and are characterized by unique assumptions as well as the things that are considered the norm of society. Therefore, it has an impact on what communication people get involved in and with whom. Furthermore, it dictates why one would choose a certain communication media and also how they go about it (Leonard et al. 2009).
Cultural groups include a wide range of people in society who have a distinct way of life and especially in how they relate to each other, and this aspect is passed on from one generation to another (DeVito, 2016). Therefore in order to demonstrate cultural sensitivity, one has to explore the ways in which people relate with each other, as this would be significant in opening up the communication channels. An effective strategy is preparing oneself and listening carefully to the behaviors that have been influenced by culture. One should be keen on non-verbal communication among members of different cultural groups. Some of the key things to look out for are body language and how they use physical space. In addition, there is a need to look out for the use of physical touch as a means of communication as well as eye contact, among others.
There is a need to consult others before doing something so as to establish what is appropriate and what is not. Secondly, one should acknowledge their understanding of what has been said by others and also consider the needs of others before taking action. One way to achieve this is to be alert to the way different groups of people interact. One should be able to keep and maintain an open mind when in unfamiliar situations as they are bound to come across people with a different culture. Also, establish the differences in their language and the use of different words for different meanings as well as the use of slang. There may also be differences in dialects as well as in the accents of people from different cultures.
Showing cultural sensitivity involves being respectful of the practices, attitudes, and good beliefs of other people. An example would be to remove your shoes when entering someone’s house, especially in a culture where they are expected to do so. Also, a person will need to show consideration by looking at things from the point of view of the other person. Being polite is a virtue that everyone should have, but it is also beneficial in ensuring that one shows cultural sensitivity. For instance, one can exhibit politeness by calling people using their preferred title, such as ‘Mrs.’ or ‘Dr.,’ etc. Also, politeness can be brought out from the tone of an individual. Being polite as a way of cultural sensitivity requires one to carefully listen to how people address each other, and it will give them direction on how to go about it.
There is also the need to show genuine interest in the culture of the people, as this is the only way one will be able to understand them and how they do their things. Also, it is important to identify the different gender roles that have been organized and classified according to the different cultural groups’ cultural boundaries. Consequently, one will be able to offer and do the gender-specific role and therefore give roles respectively without assigning the wring wrong roles to the other person. Furthermore, clothing would be a good point to look at so as not to wear something that may not be culturally acceptable. Working with human services requires one to be respectful and ensure they allow the clients their right to privacy as well as confidentiality. In addition, an individual working in human services settings need to
Self-awareness encompasses a broad concept and includes how much an individual is aware of their strengths as well as weaknesses in addition to personality tendencies and feelings as well as thoughts (DeVito, 2016). The ‘other-orientation’ refers to the quality of effectiveness in interpersonal effectiveness that enables an individual to adopt the message that they have other people. It is characterized by the ability to be attentive as well as getting interested in the interest of what others say. This is still a work in progress as I cannot say that I am able to fully give attention to an individual and especially when they are talking about something when I am distracted by something else or thinking about something else in my life. Therefore, on a scale of 1-10, I would say that I am at 6, meaning that despite the fact that I have significant strengths, I also have weaknesses that can be a challenge in communication.
I have the ability to show consideration and demonstrate respect for people whenever we need to talk about something. An example is when I need to share personal issues with them; I see the need to call them in advance so that they have ample time to have us talk. Also, whenever I need to communicate with others, I try to make use of open-ended questions so as to involve them in an interaction which is better than simply waiting for them to either say ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ also, the use of facial expressions is a strength that makes me be better at communicating. These expressions include smiles, leaning towards them as well as nodding.
With regard to interpersonal communication, a weakness that I have is the inability to recognize the feelings of others as legitimate. There are times when I tend to think that someone is either angry or sad over something that I view as trivial. This prevents me from understanding them from their point of view. Another weakness is the inability to acknowledge other people. Consequently, I am unable to ask for suggestions, opinions, as well as clarifications, and hence this prevents me from getting a better understanding of the topic. As a result, I tend to ‘tune out’ when people speak, and I go on a mental vacation.
Having a strong other orientation is important, especially in working in human services settings, because it increases the chances of an individual being culturally sensitive to the existing cultural differences within the setting. It also enables an individual to understand people better and consequently avoid working with stereotypes and consequently perceive the situations in a more accurate way (DeVito, 2016). In addition, it helps a person to counteract the challenges that come with non-verbal communication among different people from different cultures.
In human services, one is bound to find a wide range of people who differ in various aspects such as gender, age, sexual orientation, capabilities, experience, religious background as well as cultural ethnicity. Therefore there is a need to have an individual communicate effectively while putting into consideration all the elements of the people’s culture. A strategy that is effective is for an individual to educate themselves about the cultures of other people. The goal is to ensure a proper understanding of the expectations in terms of how to address people, gender-specific roles, and even verbal and non-verbal communication.
Having seen the importance of understanding the culture of others, it would be a challenge to understand others before one can understand themselves. Therefore, this prompts the need for self-awareness, which helps one to understand who one really is. One effective way of exploring self-awareness is by using the Johari window, which divides human nature into four parts, namely the open self and the hidden self, the unknown self, and the blind self (DeVito, 2016).
Verbal techniques are effective, especially if the message is brought out efficiently. This can be done through the use of open-ended questions to ensure interaction between the two groups of people who are in a conversation. This will be beneficial in a human service setting, as t will help one engage more with people from different cultural groups and consequently have better communication. Another efficient method will be to utilize simple language, especially putting into consideration the different meanings of words from different groups of people in a different cultures.
Non-verbal communication involves facial expressions, body language as well as physical touch. Facial expression is the most common, and it can be used to pass a wide range of information; for instance, a person can deduce emotions such as anger, happiness, and contentment as well as pain in the facial expressions that are expressed by another person. Furthermore, the expressions are significant in giving emphasis to the message. Body language is also another example, and it can be seen when one is composed or seems to be unsettled. A composed person is bound to have a better communication effect as compared to the uneasy one.
DeVito, J. A. (2016). The interpersonal communication book. Boston, MA: Pearson.
Leonard, K. M., Van Scotter, J. R., & Pakdil, F. (2009). Culture and communication: Cultural variations and media effectiveness. Administration & Society, 41(7), 850-877.
Tone, K., Skitmore, M., & Wong, J. K. W. (2009). An investigation of the impact of cross-cultural communication on the management of construction projects in Samoa. Construction Management and Economics, 27(4), 343-361.
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Identify the communication problem (culture awareness).
Be very specific and detailed here. What caused the problem? What impact does this problem have on the company or organization (or other entity, e.g., a specific person)?
E identify one possible solution and list them all here.
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