Intercultural communication is known as the base for international business. This paper will analyze intercultural communication focusing on Phoenix Management Services which is an organization with multicultural people. I think I can bring strategies to increase their intercultural communication skills so that they can intermingle with other individuals from any part of the world.
Literature Review I will begin by examining the history of intercultural communication and examine some of the theories by researchers. The study of intercultural communication was initiated by Edward Hall and others followed suit in the 1950’s. Hall is regarded as the founder of intercultural communication which he initiated in 1951, when he started working at the Foreign Service Institute. The Foreign Service Institute was then in charge of handling cultural information in the United States. Intercultural communication did not have any resources for use in the 1960’s (Condon & Yousef, 1975).
It is in the 1970’s that sources, journals and societies specializing in intercultural communication emerged. Hall looked at communication using the concept of low and high context messages depending on the importance of the context of the message. In a low context message the information in the message is explicit with no unspoken or implied information. While in the high context message most of the meaning is understood and passed on by the circumstances, relationships and non-verbal messages (Hall, 1976, Habke & Sept, 1993).
In the low context cultures, everything is communicated by explicit information while in a high context culture communication depends on the subtleness and circumstances. This theory by Hall lowers the chances of causing offense in intercultural communication for if one has a view of a culture; they are able to take measures to adjust to another culture thus improving the chances of precise communication (Hall, 1976) Other researchers who have contributed to the intercultural communication theory are William Gudykunst and Young Yum Kim.
As a navy specialist deployed in Japan, Gudykunst came up with he theory on intercultural communication while training others. Kim’s interest in communication aspects of the cultural adjustments of immigrants stems from growing up in Korea and immigrating to the United States. The two focus mainly on theoretical issues on intercultural communication. They think to understand the process of intercultural communication and improve on it effectiveness, there is a need for conceptual tools to understand what is happening (Gudykunst & Kim, 1997).
In their theory they clearly show that all communication is in some sense intercultural. For instance the difference between one interacting with a colleague at work who shares their ethnicity and language, and their interaction with a visiting person who shares neither is not a qualitative difference, but merely a question of the degree of strangeness. This theoretical admission is important because Gudykunst and Kim downgrade ethnicity by paving the way for a distinct understanding of culture operating at every level.
Gudykunst and Kim propose four categories of culture-relation influences on the communication process. There are the cultural influences which include rules, norms and values. They classify norms and rules as sets of expected behavior for particular situations (Gudykunst & Kim, 1997). Socio-cultural influences which also include norms, rules and values are keyed to social roles such as an employer or doctor and not to situations. Psycho-cultural influences are those gained by our personal experience and psychological makeup and not from our culture or society.
Lastly, environmental influences relate to our expectations of behavior in a given physical environment. Gudykunst and Kim contend that high and low contexts are cultural influences while ethnocentrism and prejudice are potential psychocultural influences. They observe that though one tendency such as individualism may hold at a cultural level, any individual within that culture is free to prefer collectivism. The key strength to their theory is a new concern in to incorporate research by others and to free the individual.
Ron Scollon and Suzanne Wong Scollon like Gudykunst and Kim, try to set out and apply a theoretical structure for intercultural communication. Nonetheless their goals are less ambitious. They therefore focus on interaction in formal professional context. The Scollon’s focal point is discourse systems which involve four elements; a group of ideological norms, distinct socialization processes, a regular set of discourse forms, and a set of suppositions about face interactions within the discourse system. Many systems they say cut across cultural divides.
For Scollon and Wong Scollon, intercultural communication is better considered interdiscourse communication. They pay attention to describing different prominent discourse systems focusing on those used in professional communication. They reckon that if we appreciate the discourse systems used by other individuals we will converse with them well. (Scollon & Wong Scollon, 1995) Analysis of Phoenix Management Services The organization I have chosen to examine is Phoenix Management Services (PMS) a property management company where I recently worked.
Phoenix Management Services, Inc. was started in 1996 and so far it runs more than 25,000 units in the state of Florida. I would like to be involved with this company and improve their skills and find techniques and strategies to develop skills to interact with other cultures. While at PMS I learnt that understanding the cultural differences in a company can be the distinction between professional success and failures in meeting your goals. Exceptional intercultural communication skills are vital in today’s independent world.
To improve business performing and competition one should be able to communicate freely with workmates that are representing different cultures. Daily at PMS we worked with people from different cultural backgrounds with accompanying challenges and opportunities. From my experience at PMS, if communication is healthy there is a rise in productivity and this enhances performance, originality and growth of the organization. Communication is multifaceted making it difficult to convey any message which lacks fundamental cultural connotations. Disparities in culture do have a great impact on business and social communications.
By PMS applying intercultural communication skills at work it has greatly improved many interactions amongst employees. Recommendations to improve communication at Phoenix Management Services The culture in which people group up in determines how they express themselves and how they communicate with others. At work, cultural stereotypes can create tensions that lower job satisfaction and productivity. Both employee and employer benefit when they confront and move beyond their prejudices (Fantino, 2006). Discarding cultural prejudices is by no means easy and it takes time and strength of mind.
I think the following strategies at PMS can help increase their intercultural communication skills in order for them to interact with other individuals from any part of the world. It is important to regard all employees as equals’ in spite of their different cultural origins, thus it better to focus on their capabilities other than their cultural origins. It is important to respect personal names, call people by the name they prefer to be called, learn how to pronounce each name correctly and also the correct order in which to say it. Turning fear into curiosity is essential.
Instead of being suspicious of other groups ask yourself what all of you can learn if you went beyond your differences. Steer clear of negative statements about employees from one culture. The fact that a person made a particular mistake is not an indicator that all the people from that culture are incompetent. It is also important to have an open mind when dealing with employees from different cultures rather than distorting what you know about that culture based on a preconceived view of the world. It is not proper to believe that if an employee is unable perform a articular task properly that they will not be able to do a different one well. Given a chance to prove them, they may excel in something else. On the other hand if an employee is excellent at a given task it does not necessarily mean they will do well in the next task. In intercultural communication it is important that you avoid discriminating against employees from different cultural groups. Always ensure that they work under favorable conditions so that they do not feel like outcasts but feel that they are part of the company.
Make sure that their colleagues are aware of the company’s policy against discrimination to avoid such incidents in the organization. It is good to use appropriate language when communicating with employees from different cultures. It pays to do a little research on what language use is satisfactory in their culture to avoid being offensive when communicating with them. It is important to avoid making judgments based on the accent, timing, and pace of a person’s speech. Different ways of speaking may strike you as haughty, subservient, or even insulting.
Try to view people objectively, even if their accents seem peculiar and do not make fun of them or crack uncalled for jokes about them but instead choose to appreciate their diversity. Always endeavour to clarify cultural regulations to employees from different cultural backgrounds to make communication at the work place easy. This will enable these employees understand clearly what is expected of them while working in the organization. When communicating with employees from different cultures try to observe them and if there is something that is not clear do not be afraid to ask them so that they make it clear for better understanding.
Do not be quick to pass judgment upon them. Take into account English barriers when working with employees who are not fluent in English considering that maybe it is not their first language. Take necessary measures to make sure that the message being passed across is understood as intended. Bear in mind the fact that it is strenuous to think and speak in two different languages all day long especially if English is not your first language. In intercultural communication nonverbal language is essential since it expresses emotions, objectives and responses.
Go an extra mile and take on the responsibility of learning nonverbal sign of different cultures and consider the message they send. The concept of time is looked at in varied ways in some cultures, therefore it is very important to be conscious of this. When faced with a dilemma of an employee’s perception of time it is proper to discuss this and come up with a mutual understanding. It is also good to adjust interpersonal space requirements, if it is deemed necessary.
Depending upon cultural practices, people may feel uncomfortable when someone is either standing close by or far off. Always take note of how close they stand when they approach and follow suit. It is also vital to pay attention to how people react when someone moves close. Finally in intercultural communication it is vital to be cautious regarding physical contact. Observe how individuals from different cultural backgrounds relate with people from their own culture. Take note also of how they interact with people in authority or of different social status.
It is worth noting that excellent communication skills are useful in all intercultural communication. These skills are needed today in any working environment of an organization. It is the responsibility of those involved in the work place to enhance these intercultural communication skills. Conclusion In conclusion, the best thing about intercultural communication is the way it has acculturated our thinking of communication. Intercultural communication research took no real account of culture until the initiative by Edward Hall.
Now there is a wealth of research interest in the matter. This is of theoretical benefit, because anything else may be significant in communication, and however displeasing the idea of culture may be, it remains true that culture influences communication and a full theory of communication must take account of it. More importantly, research in intercultural communication has led to increasing sophisticated investigations into cultures far removed from our own. This has resulted in greater awareness, and potentially greater understanding.
Understanding is the key to good intercultural communication and this is a good thing. Special challenges to intercultural relationships include coping with differences, tending to stereotypes, dealing with apprehension, and having to give details about ourselves to strangers. References Condon, J. C. & Yousef, F. S. (1975). An Introduction to Intercultural communication. New York: Macmillan Fantino, A. M. (2006). Cultures at Work: Intercultural Communication in the Canadian Workplace. Edmonton, Alberta: The Muttart Foundation Gudykunst, W. B. Kim, Y. Y. (1997). Communicating with Strangers: An Approach to Intercultural Communication (3rd ed. ) New York: McGraw-Hill Habke, A. , & Sept, R. (1993) Distinguishing Group and Cultural Influences in Inter-Ethnic Conflict: A Diagnostic Model. Canadian Journal Communication. University of Calgary. Retrieved from http://hoshi. cic. sfu. ca/calj/cjc/BackIssues/18. 4/sept. html Hall, E. T. (1976). Beyond Culture. New York: Doubleday Scollon, R. & Wong Scollon, S. (1995). Intercultural Communication: A Discourse Approach. Cambridge: Blackwell