Beyond the Background and Beginnings

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Beyond the Background and Beginnings

To interact and communicate within one’s own breed, brood and brother is an art, skill and process by itself. To interact and communicate with anyone beyond your own breed, brood and brother – is doubly an art, skill and process. Cross Culture Communication has evolved to be a concentrated, concerted and clear discipline that is extremely necessary to augment the search for peace, unity and understanding.

It has become both an art and a science that study and strengthen how people, nations, communities and companies from various and intricate backgrounds and beginnings interact and communicate and dialogue and express and define and reckon and resolve. To reckon: God at the onset maintained for mankind the strength of unanimity and understanding as they speak the same thought and language. Then, the Tower of Babel came about. “They said to one another: ‘now let’s build a city with a tower that reaches the sky, so that we can make a name for ourselves and not be scattered all over the earth.

’ Then the Lord came down to see the city and the tower……. and [He] said…’……this is just the beginning of what they are going to do…. Let us go down and mix up their language so that they will not understand each other. ’” (Genesis 11:4-7 p. 11-12) Was the incident a curse or a challenge? Now that mankind has involved into such universal diversity, the thought of the biblical incident must pose as a challenge. Thus, cross culture communication must serve as the tool that must be enhanced and enjoined – to gain the grace of God, time and fate for mankind to live and work harmoniously.

Chasm of Culture and Character In the art, science and discipline of cross culture communication, the operative word is culture. It is “the sum of attitudes, customs, and beliefs that distinguishes one group of people from another. Culture is transmitted, through language, material objects, ritual, institutions, and art, from one generation to the next. ” (New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy) The discovery of the impact and intensity of such reality as culture emanated from the ancient to modern day involvement of man in explorations; wars; globalization; business expansion; diplomatic and government interactions.

The premise of superiority either in armaments or knowledge was the foundation of ancient interaction with a newfound land. And as mankind realized his inherent instinct for survival and definition of rights, he awakened to resistance. It lead mankind, conquerors and the conquered, nowhere except war, enmity and destruction because neither considered the why’s, what’s and how’s of each other. Now the modern times made everyone benign and sensitive to acknowledge and recognize that the chasm in understanding culture and character must be bridged. Thus, the tremendous and humongous underlying concepts have been assiduously analyzed:

“A number of mostly behavioural concepts has been identified that can be used to distinguish between cultures. These include, for example, the differences in the usage of kinesics (body movements), proxemics (space organisation), oculesics (eye movement), haptics (touching behaviour) as well as paralinguistic concepts, such as accents, intonation, speed of talking and so on. Not surprisingly each of these concepts plays an important role in intercultural communication, particularly in communication where the context plays an important role. Most people will either consciously, or subconsciously

look for affirmative action (or reaction) by their counterparts when speaking to them face to face, for example to signal that what is being said is understood. In those cases the affirmative action is, not surprisingly, often directly linked to cultural context. Failure to provide the correct affirmative action may well be interpreted as undermining the spoken 8 word. Depending on the context, this may lead to a complete communication breakdown. For example, eye contact is an important part of the communication process in Western cultures. It is often seen as an affirmative action of what is said.

However, maintaining eye contact is not usually acceptable in certain Asian cultures, where, for example, a woman can only maintain eye contact with her husband. Clearly a woman from such a culture will cause confusion, if not disbelief, when communicating with a Western interlocutor. ” (Dahl, 2004) Distinct Diversity in Discourse It seems easy – if what St. Augustine learned from St. Ambrose can just be the rule of the day: “When St. Augustine arrived in Milan [in 387 A. D. ], he observed that the Church did not fast on Saturday as did the Church at Rome. He consulted St.

Ambrose, bishop of Milan, who replied: ‘When I am at Rome, I fast on a Saturday; when I am at Milan, I do not. Follow the custom of the Church where you are. ’ The comment was changed to ‘When they are at Rome, they do there as they see done’ by Robert Burton in his Anatomy of Melancholy. Eventually it became ‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do. ’” (Wallechinsky, Wallace, 1975-1981) However, everything must begin from knowledge and information. Embarking on a relationship that is beyond one’s culture, domain and backyard requires a thorough study of “what is on the other side of the fence”.

One must likewise initially realize that the first position in cross-cultural relationships and communication is the essence of forbearance, patience and perseverance. Anticipate that definitely there are distinctions, diversity and differences even before the first letter is thought, written and/or said. From there, one will be sensitive enough to analyze that the knowledge and information he will gather about the prospective relationship and communication to be established with another person from different culture and character must be managed appropriately.

Therefore, managing the distinct diversity in a discourse, a basic guideline in cross cultural collaboration and communication may be as follows: “- Learn from generalizations about other cultures, but don’t use those generalizations to stereotype, “write off,” or oversimplify your ideas about another person. The best use of a generalization is to add it to your storehouse of knowledge so that you better understand and appreciate other interesting, multi-faceted human beings. – Practice, practice, practice. That’s the first rule, because it’s in the doing that we actually get better at cross-cultural communication.

– Don’t assume that there is one right way (yours! ) to communicate. Keep questioning your assumptions about the “right way” to communicate. For example, think about your body language; postures that indicate receptivity in one culture might indicate aggressiveness in another. – Don’t assume that breakdowns in communication occur because other people are on the wrong track. Search for ways to make the communication work, rather than searching for who should receive the blame for the breakdown. – Listen actively and empathetically.

Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Especially when another person’s perceptions or ideas are very different from your own, you might need to operate at the edge of your own comfort zone. – Respect others’ choices about whether to engage in communication with you. Honor their opinions about what is going on. – Stop, suspend judgment, and try to look at the situation as an outsider. – Be prepared for a discussion of the past. Use this as an opportunity to develop an understanding from “the other’s” point of view, rather than getting defensive or impatient.

– – Acknowledge historical events that have taken place. Be open to learning more about them. Honest acknowledgment of the mistreatment and oppression that have taken place on the basis of cultural difference is vital for effective communication. – Awareness of current power imbalances — and an openness to hearing each other’s perceptions of those imbalances — is also necessary for understanding each other and working together. – Remember that cultural norms may not apply to the behavior of any particular individual.

We are all shaped by many, many factors — our ethnic background, our family, our education, our personalities — and are more complicated than any cultural norm could suggest. Check your interpretation if you are uncertain what is meant. ” ( DuPraw, Axner, 1997) Enduring the Exigencies of Cross-Cultural Communication What we all hope for in interacting, communicating, collaborating, negotiating, relating – is to avoid uncertainty, the unknown and misunderstanding. And to avoid that, getting to know the person and the situation will play a big role in avoiding a situation of “strangers” groping for their position:

“Strangeness and familiarity make up a continuum. ……. Thus anyone could be considered a stranger, given a sufficiently foreign context. A stranger has limited knowledge of their new environment – of its norms and values. And in turn, the locals have little knowledge of the stranger – of her beliefs, interests and habits. Generally speaking, communication with another involves predicting or anticipating their responses. …. when we communicate with strangers we are more aware of the range of their possible responses, and of the uncertainty of our predictions.

” (Gudykunst, Young, 1995) Therefore, as mankind go through the process of learning and imbibing the realities and rudiments of interacting and communicating with different cultures, it is therefore imminent that man sustain the importance and responsibility of keeping an open mind, heart and soul and exercising the virtues of patience and perseverance. WORKS CITED Genesis 11, Verses 4 to 7. Good News Bible. Pages 10-11. The Bible in Today’s English Version. American Bible Society, 1978 “culture. ” The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition.

Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005. 12 Apr. 2008. <Dictionary. com http://dictionary. reference. com/browse/culture>. Dahl, Stephan, “Intercultural Research: The Current State of Knowledge”. January 12, 2004. Middlesex University Discussion Paper No. 26. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn. com/abstract=658202 DuPraw, M. E. and Axner, M. “Working on Common Cross-Cultural Communication Challenges”. Toward a More Perfect Union in an Age of Diversity. A More Perfect Union (AMPU) Topsfield Foundation and Marci Reaven http://www. pbs.

org/ampu/crosscult. html Gudykunst, W. and Young, Y. K. , “Communicating with Strangers: An Approach to Intercultural Communication”. Bridges Not Walls, ed. John Steward 6th Edition, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1995) pp. 429-442 Conflict Research Consortium, University of Colorado http://www. colorado. edu/conflict/peace/example/gudy6816. htm Wallechinsky, D. and Wallce, I. , The People’s Almanac. 1975-1981 Origins of Sayings. Trivia-Library. com http://www. trivia-library. com/b/origins-of-saying-when-in-rome-do-as-the-romans-do. htm


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