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Intercultural Communication Competence



Intercultural Communication Competence

Communicating Interculturally

artwork by 121mcv


What is intercultural communication competence?

The ability to adapt one’s behavior toward another person in ways that are appropriate to the other person’s culture.

The six stages of intercultural communication competence and how they work.

  • Stage One-Denial
    • Person denies that there are other cultural approaches to behavior beyond that of his or her culture
  • Stage Two-Defense
    • Person believes that his or her own culture is the best
  • Stage Three- Minimization
    • Person minimizes cultural differences between himself of herself and others
  • Stage Four-Acceptance
    • A person begins to realize that there are other culturally based ways of behaving
  • Stage Five – Adaption
    • Person consciously seeks to appropriately adapt his or her behavior in response to cultural differences
  • Stage Six- Integration
    • Person is integrated into several cultures and minimizes his or her own cultural identity


How to adapt communication to others?

Seek Information

  • “Understanding is the beginning of approving.”
  • Researchers have found that if you have increased contact and experience interacting with someone from another culture then you will be more sensitive, mindful, and other oriented when communicating with that person.
  • The more you know about someone and can comfortably anticipate how he or she will respond, the more interculturally competent you are likely to be.
  • Learn about places you will visit, their culture. The music, the food, the traditions.
  • Go online, ask friends, be proactive.


Ask Questions and Listen

  • When you talk with people who are different from you it’s normal to feel discomfort and uncertainty.
  • We are more comfortable talking with people we know and who are like us.
  • Communication, through the give-and-take process of listening, talking, and asking questions, helps reduce the uncertainty present in any relationship.
  • Ask thoughtful questions, and then pause to listen.
  • Focus on the message of the other person), observing nonverbal cues and listening to details along with major ideas.


Tolerate Ambiguity

  • When faced with uncertainty and ambiguity—especially if they are from a low-context, it may take time and several exchanges to clarify a message.
  • If you are from a cultural tradition that values certainty and you are uncomfortable with uncertainty, you may have to acknowledge the cultural difference.
  • Be patient and work at tolerating more ambiguity


Develop Mindfulness

  • To be mindful is to be aware of how you communicate with others.
  • Be aware of your communication with others.
  • Constantly remind yourself that other people are not like you.


Become Other Oriented

  • Other-oriented communication is communication in which we take into account the needs, motives, desires, and goals of our communication partners while still maintaining our own integrity.
    • The choices we make in forming messages.
    • Selecting the time and place to deliver them.
    • We should consider the thoughts and feelings of others
    • Assuming superiority is a major barrier to communicating with others.


  • What is social decentering?
    • A cognitive process through which we take into account another person’s thoughts, values, background, and perspectives.


  • What does it mean to develop empathy?
    • Empathy- an emotional reaction that is similar to the reaction being experienced by another person.
    • Steps to develop empathy
      • Stop
      • Look
      • Listen
      • Imagine
      • Ask
      • Paraphrase




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