Reflection on Intercultural Communication(张果,2019级硕士)
发布时间: 2019-11-06 浏览次数: 20

Todays class began with a presentation about stereotypes, with the performers of various cultural backgrounds from different countries. It was interesting to see the pervasive stereotypes held by people against each other revealingly shown on the slides and it was also enlightening to hear the truth from the people involved in the stereotypes. For example, some Chinese people think that African people are very poor and cannot afford food. However, this cannot be applied to all Africans as not every Chinese can play Kung Fu. Meanwhile, this stereotype may be viewed as containing certain discrimination against Africans and will probably be associated with belittlement towards Africans as a whole, bringing about some hurdles in achieving mutual understanding. We should know that there is income disparity in almost all the countries, with African countries being relatively more imbalanced. So the stereotype that all Africans are very poor is based on groundless assumption which may cause misunderstanding between the people involved. In the presentation, the two African guy were delivering the facts to the two Chinese girls who hold the stereotype towards them and the misunderstanding will certainly disappear.

Today, we are living in a multicultural world and having the capacity to communicate with people from different cultures properly has become an essential requirement. Stereotypes are overgeneralized beliefs which cannot represent the complete picture. So it is strongly advised that you do some research about the so-called common sense when communicating with people of different culture backgrounds to reduce culture conflicts. It is also feasible to ask for an explanation from the new friends when having problems in understanding some aspects of their culture. Taking some hearsay as the truth and stating that out directly is not a wise decision in intercultural communication, for you may unconsciously say something far from the truth and hurt peoples feelings.

In the middle of the class, Professor An spared some time for us to introduce our greeting styles, which was the highlight of this class. Students in this class are from 15 countries and its interesting to learn so many different greeting styles. This section began with three Nigerian students demonstrating their ways of greeting. From their description, we know that the greeting styles vary among different tribes but the general way is kneeing down to the leaders upon their meeting to show respect. An astonishing fact picked up by me is that there are more than 500 tribes in Nigeria, which seems unusual and is hard to understand as we dont have tribes or similar cultures. We perceive what we see and what we experience, and for things and conception rarely seen, we tend to question the righteousness of their being and sometimes attach negative feelings to them. Its normal to show confusion towards unfamiliar things but its not appropriate to judge or even criticize them based on your own perception. These alien things and concepts have never walked into the realm of our culture, indicating that we are being deceitful if we use our own standard to judge another culture because we dont even know its context. 

The Nigerian students continued to introduce their greeting styles and told us they would bow low to their teachers to show their respect, which is a common style across the world. The greeting style between friends is also similar with other cultures, normally saying hello or hug each other. This fact shows that the greeting culture in Nigeria is dynamic and pluralistic, with different forms and styles in different occasions. They keep their old and traditional way when being in their own exclusive culture context whereas adopt a common and open style when dealing with a more general and inclusive occasion. It is true with other cultures presented in class. An inspiring point behind all the greeting styles demonstrated in class is that the specific form or style may be different but the general philosophy is almost the same: keeping the traditional style when in special and serious situations while embracing a common and universal way when in normal life. Different parts of the world are connected closer and closer with each other, and a common greeting style is only an aspect of the result of the interconnectedness. There will be more interaction between different cultures and the influence from one culture on another will also increase, but the core or the uniqueness of one culture will remain.

The demonstration of different greeting styles injected some vibrancy into this classroom and students were laughing and talking to each other. After this section, we moved on to talk about values and cultural value orientations. Values dont have specific forms and cant be felt by people, but they are there guiding peoples behavior just like the air, essential but unnoticeable. People from different cultures behave in various ways towards a similar topic because they have different value orientations. I will not repeat the content of the four models in the textbook but want to say something about the either-or paradigm in the west and the Yin & Yang model in China. Chinese Yin & Yang emphasizes harmony in the society and between relationships. People will try their best to avoid conflicts and to reach a harmonious whole between the two sides involved. Apparently, people in China are enjoying their harmonious relationship with others, but indeed, problems may arise. Always sticking to the principle of concession and compromise in interpersonality is the key factor allowing for a lasting harmony. However, its unrealistic for people to always take the step back and they need to let off their anger and annoyance sometimes. So, finding a way to deal with the uneasy feelings inside is of significance and chatting with friends may be a good choice. Of course, you can break the delicate balance in the harmonious relationship if the concession goes too far. But in terms of some big concerns, harmony can create powerful forces to defend the interest of the group, so its important to change the mindset according to different circumstances. Comparatively, the western model attaches importance to individualism and supports the two sides to be completely independent from each other. It allows either side to focus on their own business for a better outcome but no concession from either side in communication would bring about great conflicts, which may block the way of cooperation or result in way worse disagreement. At this time, a small step back may change the situation.

Indeed, not every model is perfect and the real world is complicated and ever evolving. The best and most reliable way to fix problems is to be flexible, gathering good sides of each model. Moreover, considering the cultural context and exchange your position when thinking will be helpful in intercultural communication.


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