Key Points of Intercultural Communication

Key Points of Intercultural Communication

  • When communications cause conflict, be aware that problems might have more to do with style or process than with content or motives.
  • Learn to understand different communication styles—you could even benefit through expanding your repertoire.
  • Communicating across cultures requires extra effort. Good communication requires commitment and concentration.
  • Although culture affects differences in communication patterns, there are many exceptions within each group depending on class, age, education, experience, and personality.
  • Remember that communication is a process and that the process varies among cultures. Look at what might be getting in the way of understanding. Constantly ask “What’s going on here?” and check your assumptions.
  • Avoid jokes, words, or expressions that are hot buttons, such as those that are based on ethnicity, race, gender, politics or religion.
  • Use language that fosters trust and alliance.
  • Respect differences; don’t judge people because of the way they speak.

Don't exclude others through language

Remember that language can divide as well as unify. While your language is part of your culture and binds you to others who speak that language, it can also separate you from those who do not share it. If you’re bilingual, take care not to let your language skill create a barrier between you and your unilingual colleagues and friends.

Does that mean that you should hide your ability? Not at all. Use your proficiency to help your colleagues, friends, organization, and your students. For example, if it’s appropriate, offer to serve as an interpreter for colleagues or students who share your language. Or offer to translate a document for a colleague who doesn’t speak the language. Or offer to teach your students some basic words and key phrases for business or for their personal use.