Intercultural Communication

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Prepared by Siti Rokiah Siwok ,
for UHS 2052 students at UTM
[email protected]
Some definitions
• Intercultural communication is a situation in which people
from diverse cultural backgrounds are engaged in
communication. Intercultural communication is
communication between people whose cultural
perceptions and symbol systems are distinct enough to
alter the communication events (Porter & Samovar,2001)
• Intercultural communication refers to the communication
between people from two different culture (Guo-Ming
Chen & Starosta,1998)
• The interaction between people of difference culture
background (Martin & Nakayama,2000)
What is culture?
• A “classic definition” by E.B. Taylor
“ a complex whole which includes
knowledge, belief, art, law morals,
customs, and any other capabilities
and habits acquired by man as a
member of society”
What is culture?
• Clifford Geertz (anthropologist):
Culture denotes a historically transmitted
pattern of meaning embodied in symbols, a
system of inherited conceptions expressed in
symbolic forms by means of which men
communicate, perpetuate and develop their
knowledge about attitudes toward life”
What is culture?
• Harry C. Triandis ( 1994):
“ Culture is a shared meaning system, found
among those, who speak a particular
language dialect, during a specific historic,
period and in a definable geographic region”
Approaches in
understanding culture
• etic
An "etic" account is a description of a behavior or belief
by an observer, in terms that can be applied to other
cultures; that is, an etic account attempts to be 'culturally
• emic
An "emic" account is a description of behavior or a belief
in terms meaningful (consciously or unconsciously) to
the actor; that is, an emic account comes from a person
within the culture. Almost anything from within a culture
can provide an emic account.
Culture is …
• Complex
• Many approaches
Layers of culture (1985)
Ways of looking….
• Another way of looking at Schein’s
representation of organizational culture (2004):
Culture by Hofstede (1994)
Nilai (value)
Upacara (ritual)
Simbol (symbol)
Amalan (practices)
Layers of culture by Trompenaars (1995)
Norms and
Artifacts and
products (explicit)
Why the need for Intercultural
Communication Competence?
An increasingly diverse and integrated world
Work-place harmony
Peace and security in the world
Individuals Challenges for Intercultural
Cognitive Challenges
The frame of reference or world view which provides the
backdrop that all new information is compared to or
invested into
Behavior Challenges
Each culture has its own rules concerning proper behavior
which affect verbal and non-verbal communication
Individuals Challenges for Intercultural
Understanding (cntd)
Emotional Challenges
Different cultures regulate the displace of emotions
differently. Some cultures get very emotional while
others try to keep their emotion hidden -
Some Cultural Dimensions
• Monochronic v. Polychronic Time Orientation*
• Low or High Context Communication*
Monochronic and Polychronic
• Hall (1959) first proposed the handling of time as
one of the key components of culture. He used
the terms Monochronic and Polychronic to
describe two basic orientations to time.
• The Monochronic orientation (or "M-Time")
views time as sequential and linear. Time is
seen as being a limited resource which is
constantly being used up, and thus scheduling
tends to be "tighter," more rigid, with great
importance placed on promptness.
Monochronic and Polychronic
• From the Monochronic perspective, late
arrival for a meeting is viewed as
rudeness, and events and activities are
scheduled sequentially, one after another,
to avoid overlapping. This perspective is
oriented to the future.
Monochronic and Polychronic (cntd)
• The Polychronic orientation (or "P-Time") views
time in a more "circular" fashion, as the turning
of the seasons, and time is seen as renewing
itself each year. Scheduling tends to be "loose"
and flexible, with many last-minute changes to
even highly significant events and activities.
Often many activities are juggled
simultaneously, and promptness is not
considered important. This perspective is
oriented to the past and/or present.
Monochronic and Polychronic (cntd)
• Monochronic people are more likely to be taskoriented than relationship-oriented, and may be
viewed by polychronic observers as "valuing
things over people."
• In contrast, polychronic people are more
relationship-oriented than task-oriented and thus
may be viewed by monochronic observers as
not taking their work and goals seriously.
Monochronic and Polychronic (cntd)
• Monochronic people are likely to feel insulted
when a polychronic acquaintance or colleague is
late for a meeting; polychronic people are likely
to be offended when a monochronic
acquaintance or colleague seems too focused
on their work to swap stories about their families
or what is going on in the world around them.
One task at a time
Efficient task performance
Need to save time and energy
Short term framework, time is
• Stress caused by deadlines
will increase directness as they
tend to be achievement
oriented and goal driven.
• Many tasks are handled
• Less emphasis on priotizing
tasks and on approximate
attitudes to time frames.
• Obscurer and less mindful of
time constraints.
• Long term perspective, time is
fluid and felxible.
• Able to retain their composure
and to draw on social support
for other team member.
High/Low context communication
Addresses the amount of information contained in
the context (or setting) rather than in the
transmitted message itself.
High context communications feature
preprogrammed information that is in the
receiver and in the setting, with only minimal
information in the transmitted message.
Low context communications are the reverse.
Most of the information must be in the
transmitted message in order to make up for
what is missing in the context (both internal and
High/Low context communication
• The context of communication addresses
the amount of information contained in the
context (or setting) rather than in the
transmitted message itself.
High/Low context communication (cntd)
• In high context cultures, there is an expectation of
shared knowledge, the information is implicit, and the
communication is less direct. In contrast, “in a low
context culture . . . information is explicit; procedures are
explained, and expectations are discussed,” and a literal,
direct style of communication is seen.
• With respect to nationalities, the United States,
Germany, Switzerland and other Northern European
countries are considered to be low context, in contrast to
the high context seen in cultures like Japan, Arabian and
Mediterranean countries
Edward T. Hall, Beyond Culture (1989)
Low vs. High Context Cultures
Low Context
High Context
• Screens its direct attention
more to the literal meanings of
words and less to the content
surrounding the words.
• Is designed to let in implied
meanings arising from physical
setting, relations, or shared
• We “say what we mean and
mean what we say”
• Non-verbal signals are used to
infer, imply, insinuate or deliver
messages that we want to
transmit indirectly.
• Leave for spaces for
interpretation and replication of
High /low context cultures
• Most people use a mixture of low and high
context communication.
The Third Culture
The “Third Culture”
• Third Culture: the establishment of common culture
including “new” communication rules, taking into account
the demand of situational characteristics, the cultural
identity of the other person, and the existence of shared
intercultural norms that are not necessarily the same as
one’s home culture.
Adaptation to a culture
• Sosialisasi (Socialization)
• Kesepadanan budaya (cultural fit,
organizational fit, person-environment fit)
• Akulturasi (Acculturation)
• Pelarasan (Adjustment)
Communication Barriers and
• Barriers to communication happen due to
the differences between the cultures,
which includes ……………….
• The good news is we can improve our
competency in intercultural
Improving Inter Cultural
More terms in Inter Cultural
Culture shock
Relativism culture
Normative culture
More important terms
• Ethnic group
• Flexible
• Tolerant
• Some authors differentiate between intercultural
communication and cross-cultural
communication, as below:
• intercultural communication is the communication between various
groups of people within a particular country while
cross-cultural communication is the communication between
cultures of a least two different countries.
• References:
• Various
• Thank you very much to the people who
have shared their knowledge over the net.

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