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When two or more people meet for the first time, there is always the inevitable difference of newness that arises. People meet for various reasons: business, education, religious purposes, war, and recreation, to mention a few. What one must know is that people ave very different. Such an encounter propels the people in question to desire a lot with the aim to remain relevant in presence of the other(s). The result is cross-cultural communication popularly called intercultural communication. In order to understand this discourse more, this essay seeks to interrogate the impediments that hinder any healthy communication by any group of persons, residing anywhere at a given time in history. Again, it would be stimulating to learn how these impendments can be minimized effectively and amicably. Cross-cultural communication traces its origin from the increase of global trade where different cultures met. People from different cultures began finding it hard to communicate, not only because of language but also because the effect of cultural styles. People who live in the United States, Western Europe, Latin America, and Asia among other regions, meet and communicate with each other (Jandt, 2008.)
There are various obstacles to intercultural communication. Anxiety is one of them. When one is in a new organization, environment or work place, he or she may get the feeling of restlessness. The person in question seems to take much interest in ones feelings in relation to the new surroundings and the strangers around whom one is supposed to make his/her colleagues. The situations when a person is continuously monitored by the others make this person feel strange as he or she is torn between the fact of being himself and pleasing the new fraternity. When one is full of anxiety, chances of going astray are also remarkably high, and this, in one way or another, perpetuates the undesired circumstances even more. The compelling thing is that one feels so helpless to maneuver from the chains of this vice (Varner & Beamer, 2005.).
Language is another obstacle to intercultural communication. The history of the world’s linguistic differences is so rife in the contemporary society. Due to the nature of life today, the person needs to undertake extra endeavors to meet the own needs, as well as the needs of other people. The process of intercontinental migration has reached a high level. Migration makes one meet new people who speak a different language. The genesis of challenges begins at this juncture. One cannot interact freely with the new environment. There are those who move within the same linguistic limits but in a different dialect. Challenges of accent pronunciation, an articulation of various terms, bring out the differences sharply. It is quite easy to feel lost. The greatest problem when two or more languages share the same word in the written form but difference in pronunciation. Trouble is when a word is native in a certain language but is obscene and vulgar in another. It is quite embarrassing.
The significant steps made in the field of technology help to solve the abovementioned problems. Today’s world is more interconnected than ever before. People can share ideas, views and opinions without necessity to observe the traditional inter and intrapersonal communication skills. Social media, e-mailing and a short message texting are particularly common. But in intercultural communication it is an obstacle. The difference arises in interpretation of the message by the recipient. When a misinterpretation arises, which is quite common, tensions and conflicts are likely to take place (Gudykunst, 2011).
Stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination on the basis of religion, race, age, gender, education, and geographical background are also a part of the problem. Different cultures from different geographical and historical backgrounds have different principles in upbringing their children. Unfortunately, the information policy often brands some people as authentic and the ‘others’ as vague. Children grow up internalizing this notion, and it proves hard to undermine the thinking. This happens in all spheres of the society. When circumstance dictates an inevitable turning point, the challenge arises. Different people with different mindsets come together to unite for a common goal. But with the mind set to despise some traits, characters or people, the person cannot work with these people. The negative effect mostly emanates from various learning institutions, religious groupings and tribal/custom cocoons. There also exist the belieaf of gender difference. Some members of a certain gender are preferred in some areas at the expense of others. In this case, people feel themselves being the victims of such retrogressive attitudes. This may hinder proper integration to the new society.
Nonverbal misinterpretation is another obstacle. Members of any organization have various nonverbal communications which they develop inadvertently when being colleagues. Individuals are less likely to drop what they treat as dear to them simply because of the presence of strangers. In the event that the employees, for example, use the same nonverbal ways of communication while communicating to the new entrant, the person may get confused. But the new entrant may misinterpret the non- verbal communication in the new organization.Before one gets used to the methods of communicating, there are possibilities that he or she may even have suffered psychologically. This can even be perpetuated if one considers all the cultures to be homogeneous. The reality is that cultures are different.
Having explored the obstacles that hinder intercultural communication, it is paramount that we look for some ways of minimizing these barriers, if not bridging the dichotomy that arise. An incredible approach of dissolving these obstacles involves people from different cultures learning and appreciating one another, and creating value for them. Respecting their cultural norms will help reduce the higher expectation of similarities, thus, establish a healthy relationship in terms of communication.
Another way of bridging the dichotomy of the intercultural gap is through publications of materials showing the different cultures, thus, help to develop competence communication tools. Self-awareness is of paramount importance in terms of intercultural communication. The approach one looks and his/her reputation can help create value for one another bridging the obstacles that distract effectiveness of communication. S/he should possess socially appropriate behavior that will influence communication to others. Good mastery of one’s language will add to his/her knowledge when dealing with others from cultural backgrounds. On the same note, self-confidence will help one articulate his judgments and issues appropriately. This is dependent on the ability and powers to express one’s ideas in a manner that the others understand. Ultimately this will lead to effective communication (Marx, 2009).
Another important tool of minimizing intercultural communication barrier is serving a strong orientation of others’ background. This will provide a platform to express oneself without offending the others. Perspectives have a great role in understanding other cultures and languages. There is a need to understand actions and reactions of other people’s point of view that is likely to cause a different interpretation. We should also show interest in others’ ideas and experiences and to tolerate their diversity.
In conclusion, the above delineated obstacles can be consummately diluted by adopting the discussed remedies. This will enable the communication to flow with ease, thus, enhancing effective communication.
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