Cross cultural communication provides the individuals involved with challenges emanating from communication blocks and the subtle aspect of social time. There are many factors that may affect communication between two individuals. Chief among these factors are their cultural origins. The cultural origins of individuals generate different communication blocks, thus making the sharing of information the more difficult. A succinct element of culture that factors in the quality of communication between individuals of different communities includes socials time, which according to Levine is the heartbeat of culture. Communication blocks as a result of social time are a factor in cultural assimilation, thus making it an important element in learning a new culture.
According to Levine, different cultures have different perspectives with regards to the adherence of time. Some cultures such as that of the Northern Americas are conscious about time. This results in a fast passed lifestyle. On the other hand, communities such as those in Brazil are more laid back with regards to keeping time. However, they often compensate for the lost time by taking more time to cover their duties. Despite the different perspectives on the effectiveness of a given cultures perspective on time, Levine found that they all have different advantages and disadvantages. A fast paced social time results in effective economic standards, while a slow paced social time results in an increase in well being. Therefore, there is no single correct social time. There is only a difference in perspective with regards to social time.
According to Barna, there are certain main issues inherent in cross cultural communication. These are language, non verbal signs and symbols, the tendency to evaluate, stereotyping, and anxiety. These factors morph with Levines ideology that social time influences one communitys conception of another. Social time can be observed to fit in the preconception and non verbal signs as discussed by Barna. This creates a scenario whereby the individuals involved in the communication process take a long time in understanding one another. The communication process is made the more difficult when social time is factored in. therefore, to improve communication between the said individuals; one of the parties will have to understand the cultural aspects of the other.
Intercultural communication has been influenced by the difference in language. However, it has been found that it is easy to learn a new language. Difficulty arises when the communicating parties do not learn other aspects of a culture that are crucial in the communication process. For instance, one may be able to learn the Japanese language, but if the individual does not master Japanese stereotypes and preconceptions, some information shared while communicating may be lost. It may also result in miscommunication. For instance, reference to a stereotype in the Japanese culture may result in one of the individuals in the communication process losing interest in the communication process.
Social time also plays a key role in defining the kind of information understood by the individuals discussing a topic of interest. Social time is also essential in determining the quality of interaction between individuals of different cultural backgrounds. When this is coupled with communication block discussed by Barna, it is possible to envision a scenario whereby communication can be close to zero. However, it is crucial to understand that the sharing of information can be made to be much easier with the simple act of reducing misunderstanding introduced by differences with regards to social time. The easiest way to do this is to allow the individuals involved in the communication process to learn about the others cultural expectations with regards to social time. The individuals in the conversation and interaction would be required to have an open mind. This will open up their preconceptions to the endless possibilities introduced by the new interaction.
According to Levine, social time plays a key role in the urgency depicted by different people from different cultures. For instance, individuals form the Japanese and American cultures have been found to be fast paced in comparison with other cultures. However, those form cultures such as Indonesia are slower but more methodical. Some of these social times can be attributed to the historical effects of the Second World War. The old conflicts have a way of influencing modern communication. This compounds the other factors involved in impeding the quality of communication between individuals of different cultures. It is seemingly impossible for individuals not belonging to one culture to be able to communicate. However, both Barna and Levine suggest that communication can be achieved.
It is clear to see that there are many stumbling blocks towards efficient communication between individuals of different cultural backgrounds. However, these blocks are not a long term impediment towards the sharing of information, ideologies, and emotions between people of the different cultural backgrounds. Granted, it will be difficult for such individuals to communicate in the first place. However, such people can master the block limiting their communication. This is achieved over time. However, in the beginning of the communication process, the individuals involved may be required to accept the different interpretations positively. Understanding the information shared in a negative manner may be both misplaced and unlikely as the two have yet to understand one anothers cultures fully.
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