Intercultural communication stumbling blocks

In Intercultural Communication Stumbling Blocks LaRay Barna gives an insight into the common barriers to intercultural communication. To bring the argument out, Barna gives different factors which as stumbling blocks to intercultural communication which include language, perception and stereotypes, non-verbal signs, and anxiety.  Barna also appreciates the importance of the intercultural diversity in the world. However, barriers to intercultural communication are posed as one of the greatest challenge to diversity. Here I agree with Barna that communication is important in the world and intercultural barriers acts as major blocks to cultural diversity.  However, I disagree with high anxiety is a major barrier to intercultural communication because sometimes high anxiety actually helps individuals to interact in a bid to go over the anxiety and in doing so they tend to learn individual languages. Barna has also given important strategies that individuals can use to overcome intercultural communication barriers including studying of other people customs, language, arts, literature, other factors that inhibit  intercultural communication

Stumbling blocks to intercultural communication

In this article, Barna has touched on one of the most important problem that every one of us has experienced at one time in life.  Barna has explored the barriers to intercultural communication which is a real world problem affecting multicultural and multiracial societies.  First, Barna brings out the problem of intercultural communication in the United States through review of what students from different backgrounds perceive of other ethnic groups. It becomes clear that every other ethnic or racial group has reservation towards how the other communication. For example Barna shows that Americans are perceived to be smiling all the time to strangers. While for Americans this is a way of making friends, there are others who see it as a hypocritical. Barna therefore shows that barriers to intercultural communication can lead to misunderstanding of other cultural groups.

I agree with Barna on this. Barriers to intercultural communication can lead to misunderstanding and at times people may end up hating or fearing the other because they don't understand them through communication. Communication is the main way in which people understand the other and if it is not efficient, there will be a problem.  In my life, I have ever experienced situations where I failed to understand what a person was really communication to me. For example, I remember a time when my Italian friend passed me and raised his hand moving fingers up and down. To me I interpreted that he was calling me but when I approached him he was not interested in me and left hurriedly in his bike. I hated him since I thought he had ignored me only to learn later that he was just waving at me.

Barner has highlighted several barriers to intercultural communication in this article.  First I agree that language is one of the main barriers to intercultural communication since people cannot communicate when they don't understand what the other person is saying. For example, it is difficult for individuals who speak English to communicate with another person who doesn't know English.  Non verbal signs and symbols are also barrier to effective intercultural communication since different cultural groups interpret signs and symbols differently. For example, in the example of my personal experience I had given above, it was evident that misinterpretation of non verbal signs became a barrier to communication.  I also agree that perception and stereotypes are also barriers to effective communication since they lead to misunderstanding and hence avoidance.   For example, one may avoid a person from a certain race based on stereotyping. Tendency to evaluate leads to approval or disapproval of other people without giving time to understand them and hence acts as a barrier to intercultural communication.

While I agree on the above as some of the barriers to effective intercultural communication, I don't agree with Barna that high anxiety is a barrier to effective intercultural communication. High anxiety between two individual can sometimes bring them together to find way to resolve the standing issue and hence it is likely to bring individuals together rather than pull them apart. The fear factor makes individual uneasy and seeks to reconcile with the other. For example when one live with a stranger, there is higher anxiety which may force both to try to interact with one another to reduce anxiety rather than not communicating since this would raise anxiety. Anxiety falls under the wider set of behavior and mindset factors that acts as barrier to intercultural communication and therefore Barna would have talked about fear of unknown, perceived cultural superiority, and discrimination rather that focusing centrally  on anxiety. This means that Barna left out other barriers to effective intercultural communication like fear of unknown, perceived cultural superiority, and discrimination.

Barna stresses that the method that can be used to improve intercultural communication is through gathering information regarding customs of other countries and also a smattering of their language. Barna also argue that attitudes and behaviors can be collected through secondary sources. Barna also argue that another approach that can be used is to study the history, political structure, art, literature, and language of the other people but only if time permits.  However, it is important to uphold non-judgmental attitude and have a high tolerance for ambiguity. There are also some immediate strategies that individual can use to overcome the cultural barriers to communication include breaking assumptions, empathizing, involving and getting involved with others, discouraging herd mentality, being wise, and others. These strategies can assist individuals to deal with problem in the short term.

Conclusion

Barriers to intercultural communication are one of the major problems facing cultural diversity. In this article, Barna discuses the problem in details and also discuss barriers and solutions to the problem. In my life, I have experienced intercultural communication problem and therefore I agree with what Barna says except that anxiety can be considered to be a major barrier to intercultural communication.  However, Barna does not discuss immediate strategies that individuals can use to overcome the problem.

 



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