Much of the lethargy and casual scepticism towards intercultural communication stems from many fundamental misunderstandings of what it is actually about. The commercial demand is huge for lists and tips that nutshell the secrets to intercultural interactions. We aim to show that acquiring intercultural communication skills and competence does not require knowing every detail about every culture inside out. It would be an unrealistic goal, and no one can claim to teach it. A more solid basis for intercultural communication competence derives from recognising and understanding the "why" of a few very distinct patterns of behaviour, not just cataloguing the "what". In other words, rather concentrate first on understanding the different values system behind a behaviour or communication style than on memorising exhaustive lists detailing one culture.
While this series of articles are in a way country-specific, in that
we highlight behaviour and communication patterns typical of one
country, our approach is to highlight first the core concepts of
intercultural communication. In this way, not only do the "checklists"
that follow derive credibility from a solid framework, but reveal a
wider, general applicability to other countries or cultural regions
that share the same "root" of a behaviour. Intercultural communication
competency takes you beyond merely identifying cultural
differences. For one thing, it recognises that a common geographic
region does not automatically share cultural values, and is ultimately
measured by an ability to bridge communication gaps especially where
they are not expected.
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