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Cross Cultural Communication


Culture is a way of thinking and living whereby one picks up a set of attitudes, values, norms and beliefs that are taught and reinforced by other members in the group. This set of basic assumptions and solutions to the problems of the world is a shared system that is passed on from generation to generation to ensure survival. A culture consists of unwritten and written principles and laws that guide how an individual interacts with the outside world. Members of a culture can be identified by the fact that they share some similarity. They may be united by religion, by geography, by race or ethnicity.

Our cultural understanding of the world and everything in it ultimately affects our style of communication as we start picking up ways of one’s culture at around the same time we start learning to communicate.  Culture influences the words we speak and our behavior.

Cross Cultural Communication

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Cross Cultural Communication

Cross cultural communication thus refers to the communication between people who have differences in any one of the following: styles of working, age, nationality, ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. Cross cultural communication can also refer to the attempts that are made to exchange, negotiate and mediate cultural differences by means of language, gestures and body language. It is how people belonging to different cultures communicate with each other.

Each individual can practice culture at varying levels. There is the culture of the community he grows up in, there is work culture at his work place and other cultures to which one becomes an active participant or slowly withdraws from.  An individual is constantly confronted with the clash between his original culture and the majority culture that he is exposed to daily. Cultural clashes occur as a result of individuals believing their culture is better than others.

Cross cultural communication has been influenced by a variety of academic disciplines. It is necessary in order to avoid misunderstandings that can lead to conflicts between individuals or groups. Cross cultural communication creates a feeling of trust and enables cooperation.The focus is on providing the right response rather than providing the right message.

When two people of different cultures encounter each other, they not only have different cultural backgrounds but their systems of turn – talking are also different. Cross cultural communication will be more effective and easier if both the speakers have knowledge of the turn taking system being used in the conversation (For example: One person should not monopolize the conversation or only one person should talk at a time).

LarayBarna’s Sources of Miscommunication in Cross Cultural Exchanges

1) Assumption of similarities : This refers to our tendency to think how we behave and act is the universally accepted rule of behavior. When someone differs, we have a negative view of them

2) Language Differences :  Problems occur when there is an inability to understand what the other is saying because different languages are being spoken.  Talking the same language itself can sometimes lead to discrepancies as some words have different meanings in various contexts, countries or cultures

3) Nonverbal Misinterpretation : The way we dress, the way we express ourselves through our body language, eye contact and gestures also communicates something. A simple gesture like nodding the head is considered to be YES in certain cultures and NO in others

4) Preconceptions and Stereotypes : Stereotypes involves putting people into pre-defined slots based on our image of how we think they are or should be. It may consist of a set of characteristics that we assume that all members of a group share. This may be true or may be false. But stereotypes may lead to wrongful expectations and notions. A preconceived opinion of another can lead to bias and discrimination

5) Tendency to evaluate : Humans tend to make sense of the behavior and communication of others by analyzing them from one’s own cultural point of view without taking into consideration why the other person is behaving or communicating a certain way

6) High anxiety : Sometimes being confronted with a different cultural perspective will create an anxious state in an individual who does not know how to act or behave and what is considered to be appropriate (For example: A Japanese man and an American having a business meeting where both are unsure of the other’s cultural norms)

To reduce the above barriers to cross cultural communication, one can take the effort to develop one’s listening skills. This will ensure that we start hearing the real meaning of what is being said instead of understanding at face value. Becoming aware of our perceptions towards others will ensure that we take steps to not prejudge a person or stereotype them. By accepting people and their differences and acknowledging that we don’t know everything will make us open up to people and their differences resulting in us using contextual information for better understanding. Seeking feedback and taking risks to open up channels of communication and being responsible for our feelings and actions will go a long way in ensuring that miscommunication is mitigated.

{ 50 comments… add one }
  • Faizan Fahim December 7, 2017, 1:33 am

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  • Muhammad Alfian S March 20, 2019, 9:38 am

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  • Luis Angel Martinez May 12, 2021, 6:12 am

    Cross-cultural communication is clearly exposed and explained, giving us a vision of how to interact in the different situations we may face. However, despite all the different types of intercultural communication, the main margin is respect for the other person even without knowing their cultural traits. On the other hand, what most catches my attention is that in the face of a cross-cultural situation, the most important thing is the focus on providing the right response rather than providing the right message because it makes me feel identified.

  • Aris Sánchez May 12, 2021, 6:16 am

    By expressing Cross-cultural communication, you will have the option to communicate your thoughts with confidence and see how to show restraint toward others who are not from a comparative foundation.
    Cross-cultural communication is a cycle of making and dividing importance between people from different cultures. Listening to other people and allow them to recount their specific manner and own words, we do not have the opportunity to judge people.

  • Milagros Reyes May 12, 2021, 8:11 am

    This is a marvelous website. All the information that is here is very useful for us as students and as part of a multicultural country like Panama. In addition, it helps us to analyze all the elements that culture implies and how they sometimes affect for better or for worse our way of communicating. Although it can sometimes affect our communication in an incorrect way, I think it has many benefits because cultural exchange is a way of learning from each other.

  • Bernardo Oberto May 12, 2021, 8:45 am

    Culture is the identity of a citizen of a country and it is important to always keep in mind this when we communicate with a foreigner. Moreover, we should respect the cultural background of other people and try to search for information on their culture in order to understand how important it is for them. Great information!

  • Juan May 12, 2021, 9:05 am

    Very useful information, it brings a clearer undestanding and view about culture and communication as one.

  • Katherine Valdés May 12, 2021, 9:16 am

    Definitely, in cross cultural communication, as in every situation of our life, it is very advantageous to be open-minded people. Being open-minded people improve our relationships since it makes us tolerant people. Thanks to this, we are people open to the possibility of sharing with new and different people, at the same time we inspire confidence and comfort in the other person, we are also able to give the other person the space to make a mistake and give their explanations without drawing conclusions from it. In this way, there would be less discrimination, prejudice and ignorance in our society. So, it is time to stop putting limits on our mind and start exploring new horizons that help us enrich our experiences of cross cultural exchanges.

  • Ailin Perez Perez May 12, 2021, 9:20 am

    I have realized how important is cultural communication nowadays. It is true that we have to be careful with what we say and how we say it because most of the time we don’t take into account how we have structured our expressions or our message when we are in cultural exchange and it could affect others.

  • Krysthel Guerrero May 12, 2021, 9:34 am

    On this website, I have learned how culture can influence communication. When we speak with people from other countries, we must consider many aspects so that communication is effective, clear, and avoid misunderstandings. Something important to highlight is that no culture is better than another, and I consider that we should all have an open mind to accept and learn from these new cultures. Definitely, this kind of information is very useful to develop communication skills to be a good speaker and listener.

  • María Flores May 12, 2021, 9:55 am

    Interesting topic because we live in a world where we have the opportunity to connect with many cultures and learn from them, share ours and thus integrate ourselves as a society. We must always keep our mind open to interact in different setting and maintain respect for others. We must keep in mind that we all come from different origins and it does not mean that some are more than others, our goal must always be mutual learning based on peace and respect for myself and therefore towards others. We must know how to communicate, learn to listen ,and know that culture involves many things related to our daily life, we can improve, understand others and learn from them.

  • Daniela Valencia May 12, 2021, 10:10 am

    This information is very helpful because cross-cultural communication skills will help you to express yourself with confidence and understand how to be patient with other people who aren’t from a similar background. Also provide a great opportunity to meet people from other cultures and discuss.

  • Mariane Sánchez May 12, 2021, 12:03 pm

    I fully agree with the content presented on this page. I loved the part that says “By accepting people and their differences and acknowledging that we don’t know everything will make us open up to people and their differences resulting in us using contextual information for better understanding”. This is fundamental for human beings and it is a tool to have healthier social relationships and therefore we will be happier for the simple fact of respecting what is different. It is also clear that we must be open mindful and learn how to communicate culturally in the best and effective way possible.

  • Dalia Vargas May 12, 2021, 1:28 pm

    Without a doubt, cross-cultural communication in today’s multicultural society plays an imperative role in the exchange of information and has become part of our daily lives. Sharing with people of different backgrounds requires being tolerant, respectful, and flexible in understanding other people and their culture. Equally important, you need to be open-minded to interact with individuals and accept new perspectives and behaviors from them. In addition, to establish fruitful relationships with people of different cultures, you must be aware that it is not about establishing a dominant culture, denigrating, discriminating, or relying on assumptions or stereotypes. Conversely, these relationships should create a comfortable environment for other people to have freedom of expression and to pay attention to decoding the verbal and non-verbal information that can be received and perceived from others. Based on this information, it will be possible to build a successful interpersonal bond with third parties avoiding conflicts, increasing confidence and promoting a healthy social coexistence. Finally, cross-cultural communication enables new experiences, takes us away from ignorance, avoids barriers and drawing wrong conclusions, and allows us to understand diversity better.

  • Diovelys Gutiérrez May 12, 2021, 5:21 pm

    Cross Cultural Communication is a really important topic that we must take into account to have a better communication in our daily life. This article helps me to understand and analyze in depth how important and influential is culture when it comes to communicating. Many times, we usually talk about culture but we do not really have enough knowledge about it. We must keep in mind that we do not all belong or have the same culture, and that therefore it is important to respect and develop listening skills so not to have misunderstanding. Culture implies, race, language, dress, food, customs, standards, etc., so often we usually do not understand that other person with whom we want to communicate, since it is a different to ours, and many times we think that their behavior is not adequate but it is only because its culture is different.

  • Eduardo Cortes May 12, 2021, 6:37 pm

    This imformation is very helpful. Sometimes when we hace a conversation with people from different contries there can be a lot of misunderstandings. We have to respect everyone’s background and culture to communicate effectively.

  • Nathalie May 12, 2021, 8:18 pm

    The text was really interesting and helpful. For me the most remarkable part were the different miscommunications in cross cultural exchanges, especially “Preconceptions and Stereotypes”. I consider that social media has a huge impact of this in society because we often see videos of people generalizing their own culture,race or ethnicity. For them may be funny but most of the time they represent a wrong side, and that creates conflicts and bias in other people. I think that the problem is that people tend to generalized a lot, and with that it will create stereotypes. Thanks again for the wonderful information.

  • GISSELA DE LEÓN May 12, 2021, 10:16 pm

    Culture represents the way we live, the things we believe in, the rules we like to follow and our values. Each individual grew up with different boundaries, acquired from their families or the people they grew up with. These boundaries vary depending on the places they live in and the way these are used to interact with the rest of the world. As individuals, we are always questioning our culture or confronting our beliefs with the rest of the world, but not culture is better or more relevant than other. Cross cultural communication is really helpful, it makes us feel comfortable and is extremely useful to avoid misunderstandings. We need to learn to understand our differences, accept other cultures and take the risk of being more open to what the world has to offer to us.
    Nice post.

  • Argelis Cueto Quirós May 12, 2021, 11:29 pm

    Cross-Cultural Communication explains how the exchange of information between people from different countries works. It is essential to know the Miscommunication in Cross-Cultural Exchanges to avoid committing them when interacting with people from another culture. For sure, this website helps me to understand better the concept of Cross-Cultural Communication and what it implies.

  • Vianca Samaniego May 12, 2021, 11:36 pm

    Hello, I am from Panama. I want to say thank you to the author. The page has clear and interesting information.I use it on my communication course. I got new knowledge about Cross Cultural Communication.

  • Daniela Valencia May 13, 2021, 12:07 am

    This information is very helpful because cross-cultural communication skills will help you to express yourself with confidence and understand how to be patient with other people who aren’t from a similar background. Also provide a great opportunity to meet people from other cultures and discuss.

  • Eliecer De Gracia May 13, 2021, 12:11 am

    I do agree with the fact that culture can affect our way of communication, because the pronunciation of the words, the different behavior of people, etc. It is important to always listen carefully what people is saying and how they are saying that. It is a really interesting website that in which you can find a lot of information.

  • Ines Monterrey May 13, 2021, 12:24 am

    Cross Cultural Communication is a wonderful and interesting topic due that we as a human used to have different behave according to our environment and society. Even though we live in a same country the beliefs are going to differ a lot. There are people who believes in certain myth and others not. Humans beings can be irrespectful just because they unknown the meaning of some words. But the most interesting part is that we can adapt to different culture at the moment to emerge in them.

  • Darell Rodriguez May 13, 2021, 1:24 am

    It has always been important for humans to communicate, not only to transmit messages but also to build relationships. Cross cultural communication is a large topic that helps us to identity that language and communication itself should and does goes beyond identity, race, nationality, language, etc.

  • Aylen Rivera May 13, 2021, 1:42 am

    Absolutely thorough and detail information we should not ignore in order to avoid social prejudices about culture, acceptance and understanding. Nowadays, cross communication seems a constant fact of stigma, racism, and conflict for those who do not recognize and accept differences in comparisson to their own beliefs. This matter is building barrers and bounds where should be create ties of love and learning. We must start today being aware and give the worth to everyone simply because all of us deserve it spite of how differents and equals we are.

  • Elbis May 13, 2021, 2:01 am

    It was fascinating to nourish my brain with such a important content. Before reading this article, I had no idea about the aspects culture involved, but now this has give a idea about how vast the terminology “culture” is. I think when we go abroad the first challenge we face is the culture differences. That is why is crucial to be aware of the cultural exchanges.

  • Alexsandra Camargo May 13, 2021, 2:17 am

    This reminds me of the many times that I have met people from other countries about the great cultural shock that there is. I remember a person who told me that he believed that his habits are the same everywhere. However, in my case, with an open mind, I inform myself so as not to bother this other person and also talk to him about the customs of my country.

  • Rossana Guerra May 18, 2021, 10:23 am

    This is a very important topic! Communication takes an important roll when building a relationship, not only personal but also in nations! A good communication can lead to universal tolerance and comprehension!

  • ranjitha kr November 15, 2021, 8:02 pm

    very use full information.

  • Blessed milambo March 5, 2022, 11:04 am

    Explain with examples how the following can be barriers to COMMUNICATION.
    i) non-verbal signals
    ii) language
    iii) emotional responses
    iv) semantic problems
    v) badly expressed message
    vi) prejudice
    vii) poor retention
    viii) differing status and position.
    ix) Tendency to evaluate
    x) resistance to change.
    Where can I find this

  • Rosina Palai October 26, 2022, 2:03 am

    It was very helpful, useful information, thank you

  • Isaac March 14, 2023, 3:02 pm

    This lesson has imparted valuable knowledge and skill in my life not only for passing exams but for betterment of my day to day interactions with people from different backgrounds and cultures.

  • Kylie May 30, 2023, 3:16 pm

    This information has really helped me get through my Multicultural Education Assignment.

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