Why Intercultural Communication?
Learning about intercultural communication enables us to approach differences in a more meaningful way, increase our ability to more confidently engage in difficult conversations, and improve our skills across cultures. Intercultural communication is often left out of traditional diversity, multicultural, and social justice trainings. It is a complementary perspective that enables diversity and inclusion to work in reality, which is important because we all want to feel like we belong. Bookmark Connections' workshops focus on incorporating and integrating the intercultural perspective with the social justice approach to diversity work.
Intercultural sensitivity is essential for effective communication in the workplace and elsewhere.
The field of intercultural communication provides a solid framework for strengthening our ability to engage with difference and diversity across situations. Intercultural empathy and openness are key aspects of the approach. The developmental model used in intercultural communication also pinpoints where we may be getting stuck or observing others getting stuck around these issues in a non-shaming way. Intercultural sensitivity is a precursor for intercultural competence.
Each culture tends to have specific ways they define “good” communication and conflict resolution; the US is no exception (neither is your organization). However, we cannot always assume our standards are universal or right, especially since culture is embedded in our communication and embodied within us in ways we often do not realize. By integrating intercultural communication concepts into our work, we can better understand the interaction between two people and avoid unintentional misunderstandings that may occur with our clients, co-workers, and in our relationships. It also assists with going in-depth and beyond the simple do’s and don’t’s in diversity work. Increasing our ability to build relationships and navigate conflict and culture are critical for effectiveness in our work and truly connecting with others.
When it comes to intercultural competence, diversity and social justice are like the gross motor skills and intercultural communication constitutes the fine motor skills. It is necessary to work at the intersection of these two fields.
Finally, the addition of cultural intelligence (CQ) provides a coherent framework for the skills related to overall intercultural competence. While emotional intelligence (EQ) is also essential, it is often culture-bound. CQ enables us to be effective with people who are not like us. While it includes the crucial cultural values, it also goes beyond them with a model that is both process-oriented and evidenced-based. Strong culture-general frames are key for reducing unintentional ethnocentrism.