Globalization has made the world much smaller with more people from different cultures coming together for various purposes. Inevitably, interactions take place and intercultural communication is bound to ensue…
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Human beings communicate their thoughts and feelings to one another in verbal and non-verbal ways. Verbal communication, or speaking out to another person is often accompanied by non-verbal language which includes facial expressions, gestures, posture, body language and tone of voice. Sometimes, such non-verbal expressions say more than the verbalizations of a person. The way one communicates and receives information matters much in the quality of relationships he or she has with others. Effective communication takes practice and hard work especially for those who are not skilled in interpersonal relations. Several factors need to be considered when communicating: age, gender, relationship to the person, nature of the communication exchange, temperament and personality and even culture. The adage “Actions speak louder than words” rings true in a variety of situations. In the workplace, people manifest explicit verbal communication and implicit, non-verbal communication (Lee, 2008). Explicit verbal communication takes the form of direct reprimands or written memos to delinquent workers. Implicit, non-verbal communication is more action-oriented. An example is a boss deliberately showing a delinquent worker that he is taking over the tasks formerly assigned to the worker. The boss may not say anything, but the message comes across very clear to the worker that his inefficiency is noted by the boss. In times of conflict, the impact of implicit, nonverbal communication and explicit, verbal communication (that is, the written norm) is never equal. The more visible and stark the image, the more effective the message is delivered and received. Verbal and nonverbal interactions play a part in the effective exchange of ideas. LeFebvre (2008) advises that when speaking, one must also be aware of body language and tone and inflection of voice. She notes that different ideas may be conveyed by simply emphasizing or speaking louder the different parts of the statement. Being an active listener helps one understand the message being relayed to him. As the listener, one should hold his response until the speaker is done, and keenly observe nonverbal cues expressed. It must always be remembered that communication is a give and take process. One must learn to wait his turn to be the speaker and the listener. The Role of Culture in Communication Hofstede (1994), a well-known scholar of culture and its effect on people, defined culture as “the collective programming of the mind which distinguished the members of one human group from another… Culture, in this sense, includes systems of values; and values are among the building blocks of culture” (Hofstede, 1994, p.54 ). This definition shows how much culture has an influence on people, often dictating how they would relate and communicate to others. Consideration of others’ cultural background entails adjustments to accommodate the needs of others and the exertion of effort to understand what they want to communicate. On the contrary, disregarding the other’s culture and instead, promoting one’s own, whether it agrees with the other or not can be a source of major conflicts. Even within a specific country, there exist sub-cultures. An example is the Asian culture. Some values are associated as “typically Asian”, such as honor and integrity. Within Asian countries, some communicative interpretations differ. To illustrate, in one country, being able to look straight into the eye of another person when speaking, means that the person is sincere while in another country it denotes defiance
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