Communication Barriers

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Some barriers of communication between cultures include languages, misinterpretation on non-verbal communication, stereotyping, values and prejudices. Researching people of different cultures before interacting is encouraged. This allows a person to know what to expect, no surprises. Cultural language barriers can be overcome by getting an understanding of the barrier. Knowing is half the battle. Once you realize what the barrier is between your language and another's, you can develop your communication skills across cultures. Misinterpretation of non-verbals can also be overcome by understanding that a culture’s body languages and facial gestures are perceived differently. Some Chinese for example may smile when they are discussing something sad or uncomfortable (“Appreciating Nonverbal”, 2006). Americans typically do not smile while discussing sad topics. After you realize the differences you will be able to study verbal gestures that mean different things to different cultures. Stereotyping and prejudging create (often bad) opinions about people of different cultures. To overcome barriers of communication between people of different cultures, it is good to get an understanding of a culture before you encounter them. Nancy Adler states (1991) if we seek to understand a people, we have to try to put ourselves, as far as we can, in that particular historical and cultural background. Making sure we have a grasp of a culture’s verbal, non-verbal, and written communication allows for effective breakdowns of intercultural barriers. Adler, N. (1991). Communication across cultural barriers. International dimensions of organization behavior. Retrieved from /5comm.pdf. Appreciating Nonverbal Communication. (2005). Reducing health disparities in asian-american and pacific-islander populations: communicating across cultures. Retrieved from
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