In the previous centuries, people lived within small communities and hardly went outside their jurisdiction, but today, individuals interact with people of different origins and cultures globally (Liu et al., 2019). Culture consists of community traditions, beliefs, values, norms, and thinking patterns that influence people to relate with other individuals in every aspect of their lives. Cultural factors include food, language, music, artifacts, distribution, production of goods and services, and organization norms (Liu et al., 2019). Living in a globalized society requires understanding the dynamic interaction between different cultures and mutually constructive relationships between these cultures. Intercultural communication within workplaces and life context are becoming an integral part of society. Therefore, individuals should understand cultural characteristics and intercultural communication in the current globalized environment to quickly develop intercultural adaptation in the workplace and life contexts.
Relationships with culturally diverse individuals in the current society are inevitable. These individuals have different beliefs, norms, and behavior that make them unique from other people. My recent work and life contexts portray many characteristics of the culture. Firstly, it shows the holistic nature of culture and how it functions as a complex and integrated element between all individuals (Bakıner, 2020). The workplace has people of different backgrounds; Muslims, Christians, different languages, and various beliefs with interconnection. Culture is interconnected, and when one element changes, all other features automatically change; for instance, a change in organizational ideas causes a difference in the company culture.
Culture is neither inborn nor biological; individuals acquire it through learning. People carry different characteristics such as skills, thinking patterns, feelings, and ways of acting acquired through education (Bakıner, 2020). Most of these behaviors and characteristics are learned during childhood when an individual has a higher capability of learning and assimilating new ideas. Individuals constantly learn the rules, regulations, and norms that govern their societies and communities, which define their behaviors and ways of life. These cultural norms and beliefs are often learned through various levels of communication (Beugelsdijk & Welzel, 2018). Culture is also dynamic; it is not constant and is bound to change. When different cultures interconnect, there is a possibility that cultures may be rendered to change. In my workplace, a change in organizational culture and environment causes an automatic change in the cultural practices in the organization.
My cultural perspectives and impacts on the understanding of different concepts
There are various cultural perspectives and beliefs that I hold. I believe that my culture is superior and highly accepted by other cultures within the life context. I also have specific views on my idea of the appropriate physical closeness of individuals in public. I believe that male coworkers hold hands in public to symbolize a romantic relationship. My perspective might not be right or wrong; however, it significantly impacts my interactions and understanding of other people. From my perspective, I may not respect other cultures since all cultures are different and essential in their unique ways. In addition, I might judge individuals harshly based on my beliefs; for instance, other countries such as the middle east and Africa may find it normal for male counterparts to hold hands as a sign of friendship.
Intercultural Communication in a Globalized World
Cultures exist in many dimensions, which significantly impact intercultural communication in the workplace. One of the cultural dimensions that influence communication between cultures is individualism and collectivism. This refers to a situation where cultural variability differs in self-perception and relationships with others. Individualism refers to an individual’s preference to associate themselves with a loosely knit society where autonomy and individual goals are prioritized. On the other hand, collectivism prioritizes interdependent socially constructed units and teams (Liu et al., 2019). Most organizations in Canada place their priorities in interdependence; there is limited class distribution. For instance, a class distinction may be challenging to discern. The most affluent people may regard themselves as middle class instead of Germany and Europe, where individual achievements are a priority (Beugelsdijk & Welzel, 2018). These dimensions affect intercultural communication because people who value individualism tend to use more direct communication styles, while collectivists, on the other hand, mainly adopt indirect communication modes and consider the interdependent nature of the individuals.
Uncertainty and avoidance are other cultural dimensions that significantly impact intercultural communication within a workplace. It refers to how members of a given culture feel threatened by unknown or unfamiliar situations. In situations where cultures exhibit high uncertainties, individuals value a structured environment where rules and regulations are put in place and strictly followed. The main objective within this structured environment is hard work and a result-oriented workforce (Liu et al. 2019). On the other hand, cultures that embrace a weak uncertainty dimension develop some discomfort, nervousness, and fear in almost all situations; they often exist when it is essential. In a workplace setting, these individuals are relaxed and tend to work at a slower pace. Canadian cultures have a score of 48 in uncertainty avoidance; some countries, such as Spain and Singapore, have a weaker score in uncertainty avoidance (Liu et al., 2019). Uncertainty avoidance cultural avoidance affects intercultural communication within a life context. For instance, some individuals tend to be nervous and uncertain in my workplace while expressing themselves or communicating with strangers or coworkers.
Intercultural Adaptation and DMIS Spectrum Position
Understanding cultural differences is one of the first steps to intercultural adaptation. Cultural adaptation refers to how individuals in a cross-cultural interaction adopt different communicative behavior to ensure communication is effective (Beugelsdijk & Welzel, 2018). It entails adjusting some aspects of the communication behavior to reduce the chances of being misunderstood when communicating with persons of different cultures. Individuals who have an intercultural identity can compromise on various cultural differences. Developing cultural identity enables diverse individuals to reach a consensus and agreement with global cultures (Bakıner, 2020). My first visit to Canada was a challenging experience; adapting to their culture was never easy. I had visited areas where the British were the primary culture. I had to learn how to speak the language to adjust to the culture. I was patient and open-minded to the fact that cultural differences exist and take time to be understood. For instance, unwrapping is done in front of everyone when receiving gifts in a workplace setting.
The Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity (DMIS) is one of the strategies used to create intercultural identity. Milton Bennett developed the approach to explain how individuals react in situations with cultural differences (Mellizo, 2018). DMIS has been used to construct intercultural identity to integrate several global cultures. The approach has two sensitivity types involving six stages of sensitivity to cultural differences. Ethnocentrism encompasses; denial, defense, minimization, acceptance, and adaptation. Ethnorelative, on the other hand, focuses on integration, the last stage of sensitivity (Mellizo, 2018). Through my cultural experience in the life context and workplaces, my DMIS spectrum is in the adaptation and integration stage. Adaptation refers to the situation where an understanding of a different culture replaces and creates the desired behavior for that culture and includes several worldviews. On the other hand, integration refers to a state where experiencing self entails moving into or out of different cultures and world views.
Overall, cultures are different among individuals and countries globally. It consists of community traditions, beliefs, values, norms, and thinking patterns that influence them to relate with other individuals in every aspect of their lives. Cultures also exist in many dimensions that significantly impact intercultural communication. In my workplace, uncertainty and avoidance refer to how members of a given culture feel threatened by unknown or unfamiliar situations. Living in a globalized society requires that individuals gain intercultural adaptation. This entails adjusting some aspects of the communication behavior to reduce the chances of being misunderstood when communicating with persons of different cultures. DMIS is one of the techniques that have been used to develop an intercultural identity to integrate several global cultures. The approach has two sensitivity types involving six stages of sensitivity to cultural differences. Ethnocentrism encompasses; denial, defense, minimization, acceptance, and adaptation. Ethnorelative, on the other hand, focuses on integration, the last stage of sensitivity.
Bakıner, A. (2020). Intercultural communication. In Sarıoğlan, M. & Hamza Bağlama, S. (Eds.) Critical studies in social sciences and humanities. Livre de Lyon.
Beugelsdijk, S., & Welzel, C. (2018). Dimensions and dynamics of national culture: Synthesizing Hofstede with Inglehart. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 49(10), 1469-1505.
Liu, S., Volcic, Z., & Gallois, C. (2019). Introducing intercultural communication: Global cultures and contexts. SAGE Publications Ltd.
Mellizo, J. M. (2018). Applications of the developmental model of intercultural sensitivity (DMIS) in music education. TOPICS for Music Education Praxis, 2, 46-67. Web.