When people have face to face communication with or between each other to exchange information, feelings and meanings or simply to communicate through a verbal or non-verbal medium, that process is known as interpersonal communication. To understand it properly we can define it as the face to face communication between people.
Similarly, intercultural communication involves interaction between people from different cultures and social groups. The meaning of ‘inter’ is ‘between’ and ‘cultural’ means from a ‘specific cultural background’. So, the interaction or communication that takes place between two or more people of different cultural background, either a verbal or non-verbal medium is known as intercultural communication.
What is culture? This question has confused people and has raised a lot of questions as there are a lot of different definitions of culture itself. Culture is a complex frame of reference that consists of patterns of traditions, beliefs, values, norms, symbols, and meanings that are shared to varying degrees by interacting members of an identity community (Stella Ting-Toomey, Tenzin Dorjee, 2019)
Culture is differentiated into three different levels:
The first level of culture are artefacts, also known as surface-level culture.
They are objects or visual representations which are clearly visible in the surface and are noticed by every newcomers and visitors. Such objects are used to convey nonverbal messages about oneself. It can be easily detected and observed but are equally hard to understand or decipher. For example patterns, behaviour, fashion, dress, trends, logos, formality, etc. To simply put it up, artefacts are what we see.
Right under artefacts is the second level of culture exposed values, also known as intermediate level culture. This is the less visible level. Such as the conscious strategies, goals, philosophies, norms and justification of the company are some of its examples. Only when we give some time to know it, we can understand those aspects.
The last level is the underlying assumptions and is an almost invisible level of culture. It is also known as the deep level of culture. This part of the culture is hidden from our views. It contains what the society deeply believe in and act on it like the ideas, assumptions, values and beliefs held by a society.
Culture is like an iceberg; we can only see the surface layers like the artefacts. If we tend to look properly, only then we can see and understand the intermediate level like the strategies, meanings, norms, etc., of the company/society. Whereas, the deeper layers of the culture are hidden out of our sight and views. We do not know what really is under the iceberg or how big/small the iceberg is by just looking from its surface. Similarly, we also do not know what the traditions, ideas, beliefs, assumptions and values are held by society.
Language and culture are like a braid, they are intertwined with each other. They have a similar but complex relation. Cultures from different places have their own unique language. They are like a one plus one offer when you connect and interact with people of different language you are also interacting with their culture as most of the language are established by the culture. Both of them have grown together due to which they have influenced and affected each other greatly in the process.
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