|Type of paper:
|Multiculturalism Diversity Intercultural communication Interpersonal communication
Cultural mindful communication involves being conscious of our behavior and that of others and concentrating on the methods of communication that occur between us and others that are different from us. Mindfulness implies being attentive in a specific way, which involves: purpose, in the current moment, and in a nonjudgmental way (Kabat-Zinn, 2013).
Cultural differences in words, behaviors, and gestures have resulted in diversity, which in turn affects communication as people differ in terms of mindset, language, signs, and symbols. These differences have given rise to ethnocentrism, manners, opinions, and prejudices. These factors create barriers, mainly when people from different cultures communicate. Culture affects the way we communicate as they are interrelated. For example, people in America communicate freely; those in Germany are direct while Indians are indirect when communicating. This may mean being rude or being easily misunderstood when any of those two interact.
Intercultural communication includes studying differences and similarities in different cultures. Organizations face intercultural communication (Nishishiba, 2018). Communication styles used are assertive style, submissive style, aggressive style, passive-aggressive style, and manipulative style. An assertive style is preferred as it is neither too passive nor too aggressive and embodies high self-esteem and requires no manipulation. Miscommunications often arise due to styles of speech and how messages are passed.
From the interview, I learned that being mindful of other people's cultures is important and requires us to be aware of what the other cultures entail so as not to offend others and be apologetic when an offense occurs. To avoid miscommunication, one has to clear and simple and be ready to apologize in case of an offense occurring. Barriers to communication may occur due to the following reasons; language, signs, symbols, and gestures, stereotyping and prejudices, behavior and beliefs, religion, and ethnocentrism. People tend to see similar cultures as good, and the other that is dissimilar as bad (Ting-Toomey, 2015).
Examples include; Thumbs up is a sign of approval, but in Bangladesh, it's an insult; The "V" hand gesture stands for peace in America while for other it may be viewed as an insult especially if it is the back of the hand; Islam is seen as violent which is negative stereotyping; eye contact in some cultures is important whereas in others it shows lack of respect, and the French accept pecks as greetings whereas kissing an associate is considered inappropriate in America and other cultures as well; handshakes are considered appropriate while in some cultures they are inappropriate; Germans are considered to be aggressive in their speech to other foreigners. To counter these barriers caused by cultural differences, one must develop awareness for individual cultures, keep communication clear and simple, cultivate compassion and empathy and use humor where appropriate as it may be deemed offensive if misunderstood.
There are three perspectives, namely, an indigenous approach, a cultural approach, and a cross-cultural approach. These involve trying to comprehend different cultures, focusing on the sociocultural context of an individual, and focusing on two or more cultures to identify validity and general features of cross-cultural, respectively.
Providing a workplace environment that keeps all employees happy regardless of age is essential for productivity and effective communication. It is a common culture for younger workers to be less assertive when addressing the elder ones. To manage different generations at the workplace, the following can be useful; to avoid a managerial approach that is one-size-fits-all as working and communication styles are different, have mentoring programs, and avoid labeling others at work and use teamwork for interaction between the different age groups (Nees, 2015).
The communication style between the older and younger generation is different. While the older generation goes for phone calls and emails, the younger generation prefers text messages, tweets, and instant messages. They also have a habit of using abbreviations, colloquialism, and casual language, which creates a communication breakdown between the two generations. The younger are thought to know less and have less experience, which means they are unworthy of the position, which may not be true as some people generally learn and experience a lot in a short time, which goes beyond their age.
Diverse thinking is essential as we get to understand the perspectives and ways of thinking of different age groups. Team building has been seen effective as it helps break down the barriers of communication as it creates closeness and appreciation for others despite age (Marturano, 2014). Stereotyping at the workplace also affects communication as the older generation tends to label the younger ones as lazy, overeager, and tech-obsessed. In contrast, the older generation is perceived as stubborn and problematic. Cultural expectations differ as the older expect ones to sacrifice a lot of personal time to work, whereas the younger ones are always looking for balanced work life. The best way to approach this is by allowing different work styles and acknowledging each member's efforts, which calls for flexibility and openness.
As the culture at the workplace continues to shift and change, organizations must be well-equipped to manage a multigenerational workforce that comes with varying values, behaviors, and priorities through effective communication styles. Mindfulness makes intercultural communication effective, which is beneficial to an organization as employee productivity is increased, and teamwork is enhanced as employees from different ethnic backgrounds can communicate with ease. The older and younger generations can coordinate well too, where intercultural communication barriers are eliminated.
Kabat-Zinn, J. (2013). Full catastrophe living; Using the wisdom of your body and mind to face stress, pain, and illness (revised edition). New York: Bantam Books.
Marturano, J. (2014). Finding the space to lead: A practical guide to mindful leadership. New York: Bloomsbury Press.
Nees, G. (2015). Connecting hearts and minds: Insights, skills, and best practices for dealing with differences. Longmont, CO: Vagus Publications.
Nishishiba, M. (2018). Culturally mindful communication: Essential skills for public and nonprofit professionals. New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.
Ting-Toomey, S. (2015). Mindfulness. In J. Bennett (Ed.), Sage Encyclopedia of Intercultural Competence Volume 2 (pp. 620-626). Los Angeles, CA: Sage.
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