Interpersonal Communication in an Intercultural Setting

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Interpersonal Communication in an Intercultural Setting

Cultural growth in the twenty-first century has heightened the

emphasis on interpersonal communication in an intercultural

setting. As our world grows, expands and becomes increasingly more

interconnected by various technological advances, the need for

effective interpersonal communication among differing cultures has

become quite clear. Due to the advancement of technology in

today's world, a world in which some businesspeople are involved in

transactions with other businesspeople in faraway countries, the

call for knowledge of intercultural communication within this

setting has become a reality. Interpersonal communication is a

form of communication that involves a small number of people who

can interact exclusively with one another and who therefore have

the ability to both adapt their messages specifically for those

others and to obtain immediate interpretations from them (Lustig et

al, 1993). Although interpersonal communication is usually thought

of as being perf! ormed in small, centralized groups, a need to

broaden these groups and bring about a general feeling of cultural

awareness has become apparent. To a certain degree, all communication

could be called interpersonal, as it occurs between two or more

people. However, it is useful and practical to restrict the definition

to distinguish those relationships that involve a relatively small

group of people, such as couples, families, friends, workgroups, and

even classroom groups from those involving much larger numbers of

people, as would occur in public rallies or among massive television

audiences. Unlike other forms of communication, interpersonal

communication involves person-to-person interactions. Additionally,

the perception that a social bond has developed between the

interactants, however tenuous and temporary it may seem, is also much

more likely.

Intercultural communication is a symbolic, interpretive,

transactional, contextual processing tool with which people

from different cultures create shared meanings (Berko et al,

1998). When we speak to someone with whom we share little or

no cultural bond, it is referred to as intercultural

communication. Our need to communicate across culture can be

very beneficial personally and professionally. Within an

intercultural setting, nonverbal and verbal communication are

both prevalent in emphasizing the differences in cultures. The

way we act and the things we say determine whether or not we

belong in a certain culture. Nonverbal communication systems

provide information about the meaning associated with the use

of space, time, touch and gestures. They help to define the

boundaries between the members and nonmembers of a culture

(Koester at al, 1993). In order to fully enjoy and benefit

from interpersonal communication in an intercultural setting,

one must first gain a fu! ll, comprehensive knowledge of the

determining factors of culture.
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