Cross Cultural Communication Process
Communication is the act of transmitting messages, including information about the nature of the relationship, to another person who interprets these messages and gives them the meaning. Both the sender and the receiver of the message play an active role in the process. Successful communication requires not only that the message is transmitted but also understood. For this understanding to occur, the sender and receiver must share a vast amount of common information called grounding. This grounding information is constantly updated in the communication process. People who have extensive common information can communicate effectively without much distortion. Cross-cultural communication is more demanding than communicating in a single culture because culturally different individuals have less common information. They have less grounding because of the differences in their field of experiences. Cultural field refers to the culturally based elements of a person’s background (education, values, and attitudes) that influence communication. The effectiveness of communication depends on the lack of distortion, which can occur at any stage of the communication process. First, the encoded message can be affected by the communication skills and knowledge of the sender and by the associated cultural field. We are not able to communicate what we do not know, and our ability to encode accurately is determined by our skill in the chosen channel (speaking or writing). Like all behaviour, much communication behaviour is scripted and proceeds in a routine manner consistent with the cultural field. Second, the symbols individuals use to express an idea vary with the cultural field. This includes not only the language used but also the aspects of communication that transcend language, such as communication style, conventions, and practices. We might think that people choose a different communication channel depending on the goal of communication. However, the reality seems to be that convenience and skill in the use of the medium are more important. Lastly, all the factors that affect the sender also influence the receiver. The symbols must be decoded into a form that can be understood by the receiver. Just like the sender, the receiver must be skilled in the channel in use and also have sufficient knowledge to interpret the message correctly. The extent to which the cultural fields if individuals overlap reduces the opportunity for distortion in the communication process. The more each party understand the other’s situations, perspectives and culture, the easier it is to use symbols that will be encoded and decoded similarly. Language
One obvious consideration in cross cultural communication is the language being used. Language is a symbolic code of communication consisting of sounds with understood meanings and a set of rules for constructing messages. The meanings attached to any word by a language are completely arbitrary, but cultural conventions control the features of language use. Even when translators know the meaning of word and the grammatical rules for putting them together, effective communication is often not achieved. There could be as many as 10000 languages in the world. However, 95% of the world speaks one of about 100 different languages, and the number of languages spoken by large numbers of people is much smaller than that. Still, a significant amount of language diversity exists, and international managers must be concerned with foreign language competency. The diversity of languages means an important issue in cross cultural communication is finding a common language that both parties can use to work effectively. Practically, this means one of the two parties must use a second language. The use of a second language has a number of implications for cross cultural communication. First, using a second language creates cognitive strain; it takes more effort on the part of the...
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