Cross-cultural Communication Course Work Examples

Published: 2021-06-22 00:46:47
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According to the 2000 census in the United States of America, one in every three people can be considered as an ethnic minority. The world we live in is diverse and cross-cultural communication is important and unavoidable. Cheesebro, O’Connor and Rios (2010) state, “the better people understand each other, the better they will be at making their own communication more efficient and effective.” (p. 58).

The first principle of cross-cultural communication states that if the cultural/linguistic differences between people are great, than there is a greater likelihood that there will be a communication breakdown. The second principle is looks into the cause of communication breakdown. When communication breakdown occurs during cross-cultural encounters, it can be attributed to cultural differences; it can also be as a result of other factors such as personal differences, noise or gaps.
The third principle focuses on the sender. They tend to be more conscious about their own communication: choosing their words carefully, refraining from sensitive and politically incorrect topics and cautious about the gestures made. The fourth principle states that cultures vary based on the type and number of taboos and do’s that their members are required to follow.
The fifth cross-cultural communication principle is geared towards increase ones understanding of the other culture. This is achieved through learning the norms and variations in the culture’s communication style. According to the sixth principle, a culture that appears friendly, cooperative and trustworthy makes overcoming barriers easier. In spite of differences in culture, language or worldview, one will be able to achieve understanding.
The differences in a group’s value orientation affect the communication style used. These value orientations will determine all aspects of communication from the greeting, topic of conversation, language used and the meaning of nonverbal communication used.
There are five value orientations, these include: task versus relationship orientation, individualism versus collectivism, high versus low power distance, masculinity versus femininity and high versus low uncertainty avoidance.
Task-oriented cultures display a direct communication style, focusing on achievements and the tasks carried out. A relationship-oriented culture focuses on the person and not their accomplishments.
Individualists have a more self-centered approach. Number one always comes first! They are interested in their own achievements and improving themselves. The collectivists are of the view that the group is more important than the individual.
There is a difference in power distance between social groups. Those who seek small power distances strive for all to be treated equally, while other groups rigidly follow a hierarchical structure where members are of different status. The latter group has a high power distance.
In the masculinity versus femininity orientation, masculinity refers to display of masculine traits while femininity orientation is characterized by predominantly feminine traits exhibited by the members of the group. The high uncertainty avoidance orientation creates room for a relaxed, laissez-faire environment. The low uncertainty avoidance orientation requires clear rules and regulations.
There are four barriers to cross-cultural communication. These are: walking on eggs, hot buttons, stereotyping and language, vernacular or accent bias.
Walking on eggs encompasses topics that are of a personal nature and affect the listener. The tension created by these topics is a result of historical oppression. Such topics are best avoided. Hot buttons are words that evoke an emotional response in another person. One should learn what their hot buttons are and control their emotional responses to them. It is also important to learn the hot buttons of those one interacts with and avoid using these words in their conversations.
Stereotyping occurs when one takes the general knowledge or information they have about a group and apply it to all the members of the group. This disregards facts such as the presence of variations within a group, individuals in the group have their own personality, social groups evolve and that the information learnt may be out-dated. Language bias suggests that one language is superior to another. This is not true as all languages are able to communicate the message that needs to be passed on.
The Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences explored student nurses’ experiences of communication in cross-cultural-care encounters. Jirwe, Gerrish and Emami were able to document numerous difficulties and barriers to communication when treating immigrant patients who did not share a common language with their nurses and doctors (2009).
Lack of a common language is a major barrier to cross cultural communication and healthcare. It leads to gathering of insufficient information and administering quality care (Jirwe, Gerrish & Emami, 2010). The immigrant patients are unable to find out the healthcare services available, communicate their needs to the doctors and nurses or understand the care or treatment they require.
The nurses interviewed in this research expressed their unease in communicating in cross-cultural encounters for fear of offending the immigrant patient, encountering behavior they had not observed before or if they did not know how to respond the patient’s behavior. As a result, cross-cultural communication skills have been included in the nursing curricula in North America (Ustun, 2006).
A relative or family member is used in the absence of accredited interpreter. However, there is the risk of selective information exchanges in instances where the relative will not translate verbatim. The relative may take over the situation in an attempt to be helpful. This will hinder the nurse-patient relationship (Jirwe, Gerrish & Emami, 2010). Body language is used in such instances. It may not be a very effective cross-cultural communication tool. Referring to the Enyro-Sasshi Japanese model of communication, the receiver must correctly decode the nonverbal symbols, for communication to be effective (Cheesebro, O’Connor & Rios, 2010).
Entering a cross-cultural care encounter with a positive attitude makes it easier for the parties to the communication to understand each other. This is consistent with the sixth principle of cross-cultural communication
Ones knowledge of cultural issues influences the cross-cultural communication experience. Understanding different norms and traditions is required for one to appreciate the different worldviews of others. It is important to acknowledge the cultural and individual differences. Stereotyping where the nurses interviewed would equate culture with the country of origin (Jirwe, Gerrish & Emami, 2010).


Chessebro, T., O’Connor, L., & Rios, F. (2010). Communicating in the workplace. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Jirwe, M., Gerrish, K., & Emami, A. (2010). Student nurses’ experiences of communication in cross-cultural care encounters. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences, 24(3), 436-444.
Ustun, B. (2006). Communication skills training as part of a problem-based learning curriculum. The Journal of Nursing Education, 45(10), 421-424.

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