The Perks of Cross Cultural Communication

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The purpose of this little private assay is rationalizing. Expressing a problem verbally is rationalizing. Avoiding misunderstandings in cross cultural communication is strenuously and meticulously describing with words. It is rationalizing.

By contrast, nonverbal communication often fails across cultures. (The most prominent examples are Bulgarians who shake their head for a yes.) Dictionaries on nonverbal communication are poorly developed and difficult to use because most of that communication runs subconsciously, and we are often even unaware not only how but also what we communicate.

Besides gestures and body language, there is even more that subconsciously adds into each communication. I call it the cultural context. It is a body of information that is taken for granted in every communication. Only by that body we are able to interpret words and phrases. You probably know various examples that the same set of words can have different meanings in different situations, and the same is true with different cultures. This is why cross cultural communication soon brings you into uncharted waters and it becomes rather an exploration. This is what makes it so exciting.

If you don’t want to get lost, you have to become conscious of your own subconsciousness, you have to express verbally the context of your feelings, resentments and expectations, you have to rationalize. But this applies not only to oneself. For the sake of a good dialog you have to help your partner to do the same. I becomes a joint venture with learning on both sides.

This is an invitation to everyone to embark on a mission to understand each other’s culture. Though it is practically a mission of rapprochement between the two (of us), it also adds a little bit to make this planet more peaceful. Cultural misunderstanding are often abused (under the pretext of the so called “clash of cultures”) to raise hostilities among otherwise peaceful people.

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