Growing up in Kenya where we have 50 different African tribes, an Indian population that has been in Kenya for five generations (their ancestors came to Kenya in the 1800s to build the railway system for the British), we have a large Arab population at the coast, most descended from the Arab traders, and we also have a White population that is fifth generation Kenyan who stayed on after Kenya gained independence from Britain in 1963, I have had to deal with intercultural communication all my life. This class on communication has given me a lot of information that I can use to make my intercultural communication better.
I do find myself communicating differently with people from different groups and cultures. For instance, when I am with the Kenya community I am more relaxed in my communication, when I am with people from different cultures I find that I increase my self- awareness by learning more about them. I also communicate differently when I am with my friends who are very religious, I cannot discuss certain television programs that I love to watch because some of them are offensive to them, some of them find shows like “Dancing with the Stars”, and the “Real Housewives” franchise as immoral. In these cases I have to talk about general non-controversial issues. I also communicate differently when dealing with different age groups, for instance I will be more relaxed when communication with people my age and have to focus more when communicating with the younger generation because of the different ways in which they communicate.
The three strategies that I would use to help me communicate more effectively with the different groups are:
- I would work to increase my knowledge of the different cultures and ensure that I was communicating ethically during the intercultural communications. By seeking information I would avoid “the uncertainty and anxiety that we may feel when we interact with people who are different from us” (Beebe, Beebe & Redmond, 2011, p.106). I would study their communication codes to improve my knowledge. “You learn more about other cultures by actively pursuing information about others” (Beebe, Beebe, & Redmond, 2011, p. 104).
- I would avoid stereotyping and ethnocentric thinking. I would assume that we are all human and with different ways of understanding our environment and we should all respect our different views.
- I would increase my motivation to be an effective communicator by being open to improving my skills in dealing with different groups and cultures.
“The more one interacts across cultures, the more one learns about oneself, and then the more prepared one is to interact inter-culturally” (Alberts, Nakayama, &Martin, 2012, p. 212).
Alberts, J., Nakayama, T., & Martin, J., (2012). Human communication in society. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education Inc.
Beebe, S. A., Beebe, S. J., & Redmond, M. V. (2011). Interpersonal communication: Relating to others (6th Ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.