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1. Discuss the challenges that present themselves when people from different cultures engage in the communication process. Provide examples.
2. Discuss any experiences you have had, or you are familiar with, related to non-verbal communication interfering with communication and relate those experiences to possible cultural influences either domestic or international in nature.

Answer

Cultural/Non-verbal Behaviors

Question 1

The process of communicating with people from different cultures comes with numerous challenges. To begin with, people of different cultures tend to have biases and prejudices against each other (Moran, Harris & Moran, 2011). These biases and prejudices easily lead to miscommunication and the tendency to hurt people of other cultures unintentionally. In this communication process, participants must learn to understand differences in cultural frameworks and how these differences are reflected in their points of view. Cultural differences also influence the way people communicate with one another. These cultural differences tend to pose serious challenges because they tend to cause lack of uniformity in the interpretation of messages. For example, Americans have a tendency to point using a finger whenever they are giving nonverbal directions. However, in some other parts of the world such as Japan, people rarely use a finger when pointing towards a person because it is considered a rude gesture to do so. The Japanese culture requires people to point towards a person with an open hand and not a finger.

Question 2

I have had one experience related to non-verbal communication in which some misunderstanding arose because of cultural differences. My Japanese friend was explaining to me that her mother had just died through a road accident. One oddity that struck me in his way of communicating was that he kept smiling while informing me about his situation. I did not expect him to smile because I assumed that it must have been a horrifying experience for him to lose his mother. To me, his smile seemed incongruous with the circumstances under which he was engaged in this particular communicative interaction with me. Thus, I felt confused and embarrassed and for a moment did not know what to say or do. Later on, I learned that in Japan, there is a cultural belief whereby people consider it socially inappropriate to inflict the pain of one’s grief on other people.

References

Moran, R., Harris, P. & Moran, S. (2011). Managing cultural differences: Global leadership strategies for cross-cultural business success. Burlington, MA: Butterworth-Heinemann

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