Sylviane R. Louis Jeune
Most of the time, we think that we act through our free will. But think again, and we will see for most part, we do not. We all communicate. Communication is a deliberate or accidental transfer of meaning. It is a system of behavior. Moreover, we cannot stop communicating because all behavior is communication, and we cannot stop behaving in one way or another. Even if we maintain absolute silence and attempt not to move a muscle, our lack of response is itself a response. Thus, living in a "global village" as Marshall McLuhan said many years ago, whether one likes it or not, we are linked physically and electronically to people around the globe. Of this fact, how should we interact in communication with others in this "global village" where everyone possesses his or her own culture?
To become more adept at communication with a person who is culturally different from ourselves, we need to learn not only about their culture, but also about our own. A culture is a system of knowledge, beliefs, value, customs, and behaviors that are acquired, shared, and used by members during daily living. Thus, our behavior is taught to us from birth. We learn when we may speak, and when we may not. We learn which gestures are acceptable, and which are not. We learn whether we can eat food with our hands, which utensils to use at the table, and what purpose. We learn when to shake hands, who we should kiss, and what manner. We learn what tone of voice we should use, how close we should stand to people to converse, whether and where we should touch them, when and how to make eye contact, and for how long. We learn all those behaviors in order to be incorporated into the environment, and be accepted by others. Thus, when we interact with others who belong to different culture, for us to understand each other, we need to consider their own culture.
I was born in Haiti and now I live in Pennsylvania. Things...
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