Barriers to Intercultural Communication

565 Words3 Pages
1. Assumption of similarities A common way to ease discomfort when confronted with difference is to reassure ourselves that "deep down, we're all the same." Of course, that's true on one level: all humans share similar social and biological needs. Unfortunately, Barna says, assuming universal similarities causes us to ignore the very real role culture plays in the development of attitudes, values, and beliefs. "The biological commonalities are not much help when it comes to communication, where we need to exchange ideas and information, find ways to live and work together, or just make the kind of impression we want to make." 2. Language differences Learning the mechanics of a new language is difficult: syntax, vocabulary and idioms aren't easily mastered. But here Barna is more concerned with complacency (or laziness) in language learning. Learning a word or expression is a wonderful thing, but failing to take into account alternate meanings or the subtle differences that context brings will limit full understanding. Adding to the confusion, clashing communication styles (direct and indirect, for example) also colour our interpretation of what's being said. 3. Nonverbal misinterpretations So much of what we say is conveyed without words. At Global Connection, we've written many times about the misunderstandings that arise from such nonverbal signals as gestures and personal space. The good thing is that these differences can be learned through personal observation. (The first time someone looks shocked when you give the 'thumbs up' sign, you'll probably get the message.) The nonverbal codes that are less overtly displayed - the interpretation of time, for example - are trickier to grasp. 4. Preconceptions and stereotypes "One of the basic functions of culture," Barna writes, "[is] to lay out a predictable world in which the individual is firmly

More about Barriers to Intercultural Communication

Open Document