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Intercultural Communication


I. I. Defining Intercultural Communication: A Process Model

Intercultural communication occurs when cultural group
membership factors affect communication process
(NOTE: This is a brief description; see textbook for
complete definitions of all terms.)
A. Intercultural Communication Process: Overall
Characteristics Intercultural communication—see
definition in text, which includes the following 6
1. Symbolic exchange: verbal and nonverbal
symbols to accomplish shared meanings
a. Digital aspects: content information that
we convey
b. Analogical aspects: “picturesque” or
affective meanings
2. Process: interdependent nature of the
intercultural encounter
a. Transactional: simultaneous encoding and
b. Irreversible: same message can produce
different impressions
3. Cultural community: interacting group within a
bounded unit who uphold shared traditions and
way of life
B. Intercultural Communication: Meaning
1. Negotiate shared meanings: goal of having our
message understood. Three layers of
meaning: content, relational, and identity
2. Interactive situation: occurs in relational,
psychological, and physical contexts
C. Embedded societal system: has multilayered
II. Practicing Intercultural Communication Flexibility
A. Introduction:
1. Flexible intercultural communication: integrate
knowledge, open-minded attitude, putting into
adaptive practice
2. Inflexible intercultural communication:use our
own cultural values, judgments, and routines
3. Ethnocentric mind-set: stuck in our own
cultural worldviews and values to evaluate
others’ behaviors
4. Ethnorelative mind-set: understanding
behaviors from others’ cultural frames of
B. Three Content Components
1. Knowledge: through formal studying and
informal learning
2. Attitude: includes both cognitive and affective
a. Cognitive: suspend ethnocentrism, be open-
b. Affective: emotional commitment to
perspective-taking and cultivation of an
empathetic heart
3. Skills: operational abilities
C. Three Criteria
1. Appropriateness: degree to which exchanged
behaviors are regarded as proper by cultural
2. Effectiveness: degree to which communicators
achieve mutually shared meaning and integrative
goal-related outcomes
3. Communication adaptability: ability to change
our interaction behaviors and goals to meet
needs of situation
III. Developing Intercultural Communication Flexibility
A. A Staircase Model: Four Stages of Flexible
Intercultural Communication
1. Unconscious incompetence: blissfully ignorant
2. Conscious incompetence: semi-awareness
3. Conscious competence: full mindfulness
4. Unconscious competence: mindlessly mindful
B. An Essential Hook: A Mindful Perspective—includes:
1. Training, vast knowledge
2. Mindful cultural scanning
3. Understanding of complexity of intercultural
IV. Deepening Intercultural Process Thinking Process
Consciousness: Underlying Principles: Interculturlil
communication involves:
A. Principle 1: Mismatched expectations stem from
group differences
B. Principle 2: Varying degrees of biased intergroup
C. Principle 3: Simultaneous encoding and decoding of
verbal and nonverbal messages, likely to be
D. Principle 4: Multiple
goals: content, relational, identity
E. Principle 5: Understanding and acceptance of
diverse communication approaches and styles
F. Principle 6: Involves culture bumps and well-meaning
G. Principle 7: Takes place in a context (physical
setting, etc.)
H. Principle 8: Always takes place in embedded systems
V. Intercultural Reality Check: Do-Ables

A flexible intercultural communicator:

1. Emphasizes a process-focused approach

2. Recognizes separate, ethnocentric realities that
divide us
3. Is willing to suspend snap judgments concerning
4. Can deal with ambiguities and paradoxes
5. Can communicate appropriately, effectively, and