Intercultural Communication in today’s world

By Le Rico Le Minh Hoang

Globalization is an undeniable process happening on every corner of the world. Changes are happening, and many industries have to reinvent itself to adapt to the new world, communication is not an exception. Communications play a crucial role in globalization yet we still haven’t quite figured out how to communicate across different cultures and disciplines.  That’s how the field of Intercultural communication came in.

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Coming from an international background studying communication, I do have a strong interest in Intercultural communication and can share some of the lessons I learned so far.  

  1.    Miscommunication will happen:

Even within the same community, miscommunicating between people is exist then individual growing up in different cultures and experiences will obviously facing the same issue. The problem wasn’t in the miscommunication but rather the trust between the two. Research has shown diversity will decrease social trust within the community. People within the same culture considers miscommunication as a mistake that unconsciously made by either one. However, people within different culture while speaking in common language (in most cases is English) will consider miscommunication as the problem because either side is not capable of understanding each other perspectives. This is in some cases are correct, but in most cases, both teams would give up easily and try to move on.

The first step in solving any problem is to recognize that there is one. Miscommunication is unavoidable but your choice to follow up and clarify the miscommunication is depends on your decision. You can move on and don’t care about the issue or you can find the answer for it.

  1.    Have the guts to say “I don’t know.”

Through my reading and experiences living in three different cultures around the world, the majority of the society in the world won’t tolerate individual say “ I don’t know.” However, that’s when the problem occurs, the fear of recognizing our ignorance has caused us to make assumptions about others. These assumptions tend to be wrong and shape by the media.

Nevertheless, as college students, we do have a bit more freedom of saying this phrase. We don’t have much responsibility to put on and our words only influence a small number of people. Giving this freedom of making mistake, of saying “I don’t know”, I think it is important to use it as much as you can. Saying “ I don’t know” doesn’t mean you are less smart or ignorance than others but rather showing the intention that you want to learn and curious about the issue. And after you said “ I don’t know” the next phrase can be “ Tell me more…”, I guarantee you will have a great conversation with your friends.

  1.    It is what it is!

Eventually, relationship and changing perspectives take time to develop. It is absolutely reasonable to feel weird and strange while talking with people from other culture than you. Building a relationship takes time to develop memories with each other, context and time to understand your friend. So it is okay to say “we are different” and “I don’t fully understand you” but it’s not okay to turn those culture knowledge into a joke. It is not okay to have a mindset saying I can’t make friend with people outside of my community. You might not click right away with the others but you also don’t have to make any conclusion from it.

Nevertheless, once you make that connection, your life will change, a new perspective will help you to see the world differently and also see yourself differently, you have growth.

In conclusion, there is a famous idiom says: “treat people like how you want to be treated” now for the new world that phrase has changed “ treat people like how they want to be treated”. Intercultural communication is a very difficult skill that requires the work from both sides. I, personally, still think I’m struggling every day but I guess I will listen to the ultimate phrase from Sam Hinkie “trust the process”.

 

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