Cross-Cultural Conflict and Communication Barriers

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Introduction

In this essay, I will be discussing ways in which cross-cultural conflict may arise, and ways to overcome these communication barriers.

Effective communication between people of the same cultural background is complex and challenging at the best of times. Trying to understand and have good, effective communication between people from different cultural backgrounds is even more challenging.

When counsellors engage with clients from different culture backgrounds, there can often be misunderstandings that occur through misinterpreting a certain cultural norm that is prevalent in one’s culture but is not in the others. In doing so, this could lead to a breakdown in communication between the client and the counsellor and ultimately affect the outcome of the healing process. So it will be extremely important for the counsellor to be aware of these differences and to have strategies for dealing with any cross-culture barriers that may arise. If not don’t correctly, then it will be very difficult for the counsellor to build a trusting relationship that is essential for the counselling process to take place. (Geldard and Geldard, Basic Personal Counselling, P355, 2012)

The following are some of the primary conflicts or misunderstandings that can occur when counselling a client from a different culture to your own:

Assumptions of similarities

It is very easy to assume that our cultural paradigm is “normal”. If we meet someone that has a different perspective on how the world works and views it differently from our own then we may judge them negatively on their beliefs.

Language differences

We are naturally the most effective communicators when we are speaking in our native language(Ivey et al., 200...

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...ng to communicate is being fully understood.

Being congruent with ones self and the use of active listening is some of the most important micro-skills a counsellor should be using at this stage. Making sure not to ask too many questions, as many cultures find this style of counselling to be rude and disrespectful, so a more indirect form of questioning is advised. Once trust and rapport has been established then it might be sensible to invite the client to voice anything about the process that makes them feel uncomfortable. (Geldard and Geldard, Basic Personal Counselling, P366, 2012)

Works Cited

David Geldard & Kathryn Geldard (2012, 7th edition) Basic Personal Counselling, A Training Manual For Counsellors

Open Colleges Workbook (2012) Diploma of Counselling: Work effectively with culturally diverse clients and co-workers
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