The Importance of Intercultural Communication Explain why it is important to learn about intercultural communication.
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Coverage: Chapters 8,9,10,11,12,13,14 ONLY
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Coverage: Chapters 8,9,10,11,12,13,14 ONLY
This test has 100 points.
The Importance of Intercultural Communication
8.1 Explain why it is important to learn about intercultural communication.
How many reasons for studying intercultural communication can you think of?If you are like many students, entering college has given you more opportunities than ever before for intercultural contact, both domestically and internationally. You will communicate better in these situations if you have a good understanding of intercultural communication. In addition, increased knowledge and skill in intercultural communication can improve your career effectiveness, intergroup relations, and self-awareness. Let's look at each of these reasons more closely.
Intercultural Communication and the Individual: Cultural Values
8.3 Describe how cultural values influence communication.
In Chapters 5 and 6, we described how culture Culture influences verbal and nonverbal communication. You might think that these differences would be important to understanding intercultural communication; however, just as important is understanding cultural values, which are the beliefs that are so central to a cultural group that they are never questioned.
The Individual, Intercultural Communication, and Society: Politics, History, and Power
8.4 Explain the roles that politics, history, and power play in communication between people from different cultural backgrounds.
As you have probably gathered by now, intercultural communication never occurs in a vacuum, but must be understood in the context of larger societal forces. In this section, we first focus on social, political, and historical forces; second, we turn our attention to the role of power in intercultural communication.
Ethics and Intercultural Communication
8.5 Give three guidelines for communicating more ethically with people whose cultural backgrounds differ from your own.
How can you communicate more ethically across cultures? Unfortunately, no easy answers exist, but a few guidelines may be helpful.
First, remember that everyone, including you, is enmeshed in a culture and, thus, communicating through a cultural lens. Recognizing your own cultural attitudes, values, and beliefs will make you more sensitive to others' cultures and less likely to impose your own cultural attitudes on their communication patterns. Although you may feel most comfortable living in your own culture and following its communication patterns, you should not conclude that your culture and communication style are best or should be the standard for all other cultures. Such a position is called ethnocentrism, which you learned about in Chapter 3. Of course, appreciating and respecting other cultures does not mean you don't still appreciate and respect your own.
Second, as you learn about other cultural groups, be aware of their humanity and avoid the temptation to view them as an exotic "other." Communication scholar Bradford Hall (1997) has cautioned about this tendency, which is called the "zoo approach."
When using such an approach, we view the study of culture as if we were walking through a zoo admiring, gasping, and chuckling at the various exotic animals we observe. One may discover amazing, interesting, and valuable information by using such a perspective and even develop a real fondness of these exotic people, but miss the point that we are as culturally "caged" as others and that they are culturally as "free" as we are (Hall, 1997, p. 14). From an ethical perspective, the zoo approach denies the humanity of other cultural groups. For example, the view of African cultures as primitive and incapable led Whites to justify colonizing Africa and exploiting its rich resources in the nineteenth century.
Third, you will be more ethical in your intercultural interactions if you are open to other ways of viewing the world. The ways that you were taught about the world and history may not be the same as what others were taught. People cannot engage in meaningful communication if they are unwilling to suspend or reexamine their assumptions about the world. For example, some Europeans believe that the United States becomes involved in other countries' affairs so that it can control its oil interests, whereas many U.S. Americans believe that concern over human rights is the motivation. If neither group will consider the opinion of the other, they will be unlikely to sustain a mutually satisfying conversation.
Improving Your Intercultural Communication Skills
8.6 Discuss ways to improve your own intercultural communication skills.
How can you communicate more effectively across cultures? As with ethics, no magic formula exists, but here are several suggestions.
The Importance of Small Group Communication
10.1 Identify four reasons for learning about small group communication.
Small groups seem to be an integral part of life. You probably belong to a number of groups —social groups, course project groups, work groups at your job, or perhaps support or interest groups in your community. However, you might be surprised to discover that learning how to communicate better in groups can actually enhance your academic and professional achievements. Let's see why this is so.
What Is Small Group Communication?
10.2 Define small group communication and virtual small groups.
To acquire a clear idea of what we'll be discussing in this chapter, let's consider two types of groups: (1) a group of people waiting in line for a movie and (2) a group of students working on a semester-long research project. The first type of group is not the focus of this chapter, whereas the second is. We define small group communication as "communication among a small number of people who share a common purpose or goal, who feel connected to each other, and coordinate their behavior" (Arrow et al., 2000, p. 34). Let's look more closely at who the small group in this definition is.
Small Group Communication and the Individual: Roles
10.3 Identify examples of task, relational, and disruptive small group roles.
The quality of a group depends on the contributions of individual members – so much so that one reason for ineffective groups is the poor communication skills of individual members. Lack of communication among group members can even be disastrous. Poor communication between pilot and copilot has been cited as the primary cause of several deadly airplane crashes. Fortunately, poor teamwork doesn't usually have such disastrous consequences; nevertheless, communication scholar Lawrence Frey (1994) points out that "communication is the lifeblood that flows through the veins of groups" (p. x). To better understand communication processes in small groups, it is helpful to think of its two primary dimensions: task communication and relational communication. Task communication focuses on getting the job done and solving the problem at hand —for example, requesting information or asking for clarification. Relational communication focuses on group maintenance and interpersonal relationships, such as offering encouragement or mediating disagreement. These two types of communication are thoroughly mixed during group interaction; in fact, one statement can fill both functions. When a group is getting bogged down in discussion, one member might encourage the group and focus on the task by saying something like "All of these
ideas show how creative we are. Which do you think would be the most useful in helping us solve our problem?" To help you understand how individuals can contribute to (or detract from) the performance of task and relationship communication, we explore the various communication roles that members of small groups perform. We then discuss another important ingredient of small groups —leadership —and in so doing, we present several important theories of leadership. Finally, we'll look at principles and processes that can make small groups effective.
Small Group Communication and the Individual: Leadership
10.4 Describe five theories of group leadership.
A group or organization's success is often directly related to the presence of good leadership, online or in person, and leadership should be a concern for all of us because it is not just a quality for those with formal subordinates. Rather, leadership occurs in many forms and contexts; as one expert says, leadership can take place "during a sales call, a customer service response, a family decision or a meeting with friends" (Gollent, 2007). As we describe leadership characteristics and theories, think about the ways in which you may play leadership roles in the various groups and organizations in which you are a member.
Effective Small Group Communication
10.5 Describe the characteristics of communication that occur during the four phases of small group decision making.
Now that we have described the important role of communication in effective leadership and various theories of group leadership, we are ready to ask the question: What communication behaviors are necessary for effective small group interaction? The answer seems to be that effective groups maintain a balance of task and relational communication, and the sequence of each appears to be more important than the relative amount of each. For example, after an intense period of task talk, group members might defuse their tension with positive social, or relational, talk and then return to task talk (Pavitt, 1999).
The Individual, Small Group Communication, and Society: Power and Diversity
10.6 Discuss how diversity influences small group processes.
Small group communication, like all communication, is influenced by societal forces. The world outside influences this form of communication in two important respects: (1) the way power is used inside and outside groups, and (2) the role cultural diversity plays.
Ethics and Small Group Communication
10.7 Give three types of guidelines for communicating more ethically in small group communication.
Ethical communication in small groups is especially important because the success of the group and the task depend on it. One might argue that being in a group carries additional ethical responsibilities because one's individual actions can affect how people think about and react to other members of the group and their ideas. In short, in groups, you are no longer responsible only for yourself but for other members as well. Consider three types of ethical guidelines: (1) those aimed at strengthening group relationships, (2) those dealing with specific communication practices, and (3) those related to group decisions.
Relational ethics involve demonstrating commitment to the group. For example, an ethical small group member attends group meetings and participates. As we've discussed, equal participation, buy-in, and establishing trust are all important aspects of group success that cannot be achieved when members are absent from or silent in group discussions. Another relational ethic involves doing your fair share of the group work because equal participation extends to sharing equally in the responsibilities for completing the tasks. A third ethical guideline to strengthen small-group relationships is to maintain open channels of communication (maintaining contact with other group members, contacting others when needed, and responding to others in a timely manner).
In considering ethical communication practices in small groups, it might be helpful to think about the ethical guidelines discussed in Chapter 1 and consider how they might apply to a small group context. First, being truthful in your communication is particularly important because you are making contributions that affect larger collective decisions (Hargrove, 1998). Truthfulness also includes being accurate and avoiding exaggeration. For example, if you were reporting facts about crime on campus, you would offer statistics, not just say, "I found out that crime is really a huge problem." Although you should strive for accuracy and honesty in your language, there may be times when you should not say everything you know —for example, when you should respect the confidentiality of others, including group members. If your friend has been raped and you know this information might be helpful to your group discussion about campus security, you should ask for your friend's permission before divulging this information. Similarly, group members may disclose personal information in the group discussion that they may not wish repeated outside the group.
Secondly, ethical group members also work toward communicating authentically, as discussed in Chapter 1. Why is authentic communication essential? As we noted previously, group cohesion and trust are important to the performance and success of groups. Authentic communication that is open and free from pretense and language that is inclusive and not hurtful to others go a long way in promoting the kind of group cohesion necessary for group effectiveness. Finally, as a receiver, you must listen with an open mind while also evaluating
others' contributions. Doing so will enhance the quality of discussions and help prevent groupthink, in which groups jump to premature conclusions and decisions.
A third area of small group ethics concerns the collective actions of the group members. For example, what if you find a project paper on the Internet that closely resembles the project you've been working on? Your group is running out of time at the end of the semester and it would be easy to copy portions of the paper, making only a few minor changes. What ethical guidelines apply here? Perhaps the ethics of fairness and taking responsibility for one's own actions apply. Submitting someone else's work instead of your own is not fair to other students in the course who did their own work, and taking responsibility for poor time management as a group is a more ethical action than using someone else's work.
Improving Your Small Group Communication Skills
10.8 Discuss ways to improve your small group communication skills.
Although no strategies will work in every group communication situation, two strategies can help you be more effective in many of them. First, cultivate an interdependent or collectivist attitude, a "we" orientation instead of a "me" orientation, and work toward collaborative communication, whether working face-to-face or online (Lewis et al., 2010). This means that you must sacrifice some of your personal ambition, needs, and wants in favor of the group's needs and work to ensure buy-in from all group members. People who are extremely individualistic may find this difficult. Yet those with a more collectivist attitude can influence group processes toward more effective communication, more participation, and more satisfaction of all members.
A related guideline is to be cooperative. Cooperativeness helps to establish group harmony in working conditions and can provide individuals with interpersonal help, making the job easier and less demanding and making individuals less likely to experience burnout in their group work. Thus, cooperative group members may be more satisfied with individual and group performance (Lambertz-Berndt & Blight, 2016).
In addition to cultivating an interdependent attitude and being cooperative, striving for cohesion is also important in successful small group relationships and task accomplishment. Cohesion occurs when group members trust each other. Further, group success depends on the participation of each member, but members are unlikely to give their best to the group if they can't trust other members to do the same. Trust is particularly important in virtual groups, where members may have less face-to-face interaction that might otherwise provide important clues to the intent or attitude of fellow group members. Several strategies build trust and cohesion:
• Focus on the strengths of all group members and recognize their contributions to group goals. Be sure to acknowledge all group achievements.
• Remind the group of common interests and background experiences. Doing this can help build cohesion, prevent unnecessary conflict, and strengthen group identity.
• Be observant and notice when a member might be feeling unappreciated or uninvolved in the group. Encourage that person to participate. People gain trust and become more trusting as they participate, especially if their participation is encouraged. Fortunately, more trust leads to more cohesion and stronger group identity, which in turn leads to better communication, more satisfaction, and more cohesion.
Observe how the group members in the following video solve their problem. Then answer the questions in the quiz that follows.
In sum, the effectiveness of a small group depends in large part on the communication and the relationships established among the members. As a group member, you can promote (or inhibit) the productive communication needed. We believe that using the tools discussed in this chapter not only will make your small group work more effectively but also will make it more enjoyable.
The Importance of Communication in Close Relationships
9.1 Describe the importance of close relationships.
Friends play an important role in people's lives. Close relationships are a source of much happiness (and
some distress) and serve as a significant context within which a person s interactions take place
(Donaghue & Fallon, 2003). As illustrated in It Happened to Me: Olivia, friends can come to the rescue in
a crisis by providing both emotional and physical support. Relationships with friends, lovers, and family
members also offer a sense of belonging, help alleviate loneliness, and are central to psychological and
Researchers have found that loneliness, or a lack of close relationships, is associated with psychological
disorders such as depression and anxiety Miller, 2002). People with even a few close relationships
experience greater well-being than those who are lonely (Gierveld & Tilburg, 1995). People with
satisfying relationships also experience better physical health. For example, an examination of 148
studies found that the quantity and quality of individuals' social relationships were linked both to their
mental health and to their longevity. The authors found that high-quality social relationships were
associated with a 50 percent increased likelihood of living longer (Holt-Lunstad et al., 2010).
Similarly, studies of marital relationships reveal that people in happy marriages are less likely to
experience high blood pressure and serious heart episodes (Holt-Lunstad et al., 2008). Thus, close
relationships can improve not only our satisfaction with life but also our health.
The importance of close relationships in people's lives is one reason the incidence of anxiety and
depression increased during the COVID-19 pandemic (Zarefsky, 2020). At one point, even former First
Lady Michelle Obama revealed that she was experiencing low-level depression (Zarefsky, 2020). Why is
being quarantined difficult for so many people? As you have learned throughout these chapters, Our
relationships are integral to who we are —so much so that our interactions with others shape our
identities. You may remember that in Chapter 2 we discussed that One of the ways we know who we are
is through how other people communicate with us. In addition, people we are close to provide love,
affection, and much-needed support. Of course, being socially isolated because potentially one could
become seriously ill is difficult, but being lonely because one lacks important communication skills is
even more difficult.The importance of close relationships in people's lives is one reason the incidence of
anxiety and depression increased during the COVID-19 pandemic (Zarefsky, 2020). At one point, even
former First Lady Michelle Obama revealed that she was experiencing low-level depression (Zarefsky,
2020). Why is being quarantined difficult for so many people? As you have learned throughout these
chapters, Our relationships are integral to who we are —so much so that our interactions with others
shape our identities. You may remember that in Chapter 2 we discussed that One of the ways we know
who we are is through how other people communicate with us. In addition, people we are close to
provide love, affection, and much-needed support. Of course, being socially isolated because potentially
one could become seriously ill is difficult, but being lonely because one lacks important communication
skills is even more difficult.
The relationships we develop with friends, family, and romantic partners are qualitatively different from
other types of interpersonal relationships, such as those relationships people have with their mail
carriers or Starbucks's barista (LaFollette, 1996). Close relationships are distinguished by their frequency,
intensity, and diversity of contact (Kelley et al., 1983) as well as by their level of intimacy, importance,
and satisfaction (Berg & Piner, 1990). These relationships also require considerable time to develop. For
example, communication professor Jeffrey Hall (2018) found that it takes around 30 hours of interaction
for individuals to become casual friends and about 20 more hours for them to transition to being friends.
Becoming good friends (more than 140 hours) and best friends (after 300 hours) takes even longer. Thus,
creating and sustaining close, satisfying relationships requires both skill and considerable investment of
People in close relationships see each other as unique and irreplaceable. They are more open in their
communication with each other than with other people, and they tend to disclose more personal details
(Janz, 2000). In addition, the communication in these relationships is influenced more by individual
factors (as opposed to social factors) than is usually true of casual relationships. That is, people in close
relationships know each other better and share more experiences, so they are better able to adapt their
own communication and more effectively interpret their partner's communication. This can lead to
greater ease in communicating as well as increased understanding and intimacy. For these reasons,
people in close relationships expect their relationships to endure over time because they are committed
to them (Wright, 1999).
Casual relationships, in contrast, involve little disclosure or affection and are perceived as
interchangeable because they are usually role-based, as between a salesperson and a customer (Janz,
2000). For example, although you might like your mail carrier and would miss seeing her if she quit her
job, you probably would be perfectly content to receive your mail from someone new. But if your fiancé
or best friend terminated your relationship, it's unlikely you would be content with a substitute. Because
casual relationships are not based on the participants' knowledge of each other as individuals, the
communication that occurs within them tends to be influenced more by social norms for interacting and,
therefore, are less personal and more superficial.
Close Relationships and the Individual
9.2 Explain five communication theories of relationship development.
Because relationship development is an important aspect of life and because the process sometimes
goes awry —for example, approximately one third of first marriages end in divorce or separation within
10 years (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013) – scholars have devoted considerable effort toward creating
theories and models to explain it. No single theory can explain how all human relationships develop;
however, the following theories offer insight into how relationships develop and change over time as
people communicate with one another.
Communicating in Friendships and Romantic Relationships
9.3 Identify tactics for initiating, maintaining, and terminating friendships and romantic relationships.
In the following, Jeff describes how he sees the difference between friendship and romantic
You're more likely to let your friends see you warts and all. There's no fear of rejection, for me anyway…
In a romantic relationship, you don't want them to see you at your worst.
You want them to think you're very well adjusted. And your friends know that's a total crock so there's
no use even pretending. (Reeder, 1996)
As Jeff's description illustrates, friendships can differ markedly from romances in how much we reveal,
especially in the early stages. But other differences exist as well. For example, we typically expect
exclusivity from our romantic partners but not from our friends. Also, people often have higher
expectations for their romantic partners, especially with regard to physical attractiveness, social status,
and a pleasing personality (Sprecher & Regan, 2002). And we may require greater expressions of
commitment and caring from romantic partners than from friends (Goodwin & Tang, 1991). In the
following sections, we explore in more detail the similarities and differences between friendships and
The Individual, Relationship Communication, and Society
9.4 Explain the role that society plays in the formation and maintenance of interpersonal relationships.
Most heterosexuals are unaware of the effect cultural norms have on their romance choices (O' Brien &
Foley, 1999) and on how they express affection and commitment in them. Until 50 years ago, partners of
different races could not legally have intimate relationships in the United States; until the year 2000,
Alabama still had a law against interracial marriages (Root, 2001; Sollors, 2000). Unsurprisingly, the vast
majority of marriages in the United States are still racially homogeneous. Moreover, they occur primarily
between people of similar religious backgrounds (Watson et al., 2004), economic status (Kalmijin, 1994),
age (Watson et al., 2004), education (Bennhold, 2012), weight (Schafer & Keith, 1990), and appearance
(Little et al., 2006). Such a high degree of similarity, or homogeneity, suggests that individual preference
is not the only factor influencing our choices.
Commonly held stereotypes also influence choices about whom one should or should not date and
marry. For example, some interracial pairings are more common than others. In 75 percent of Black-
White marriages, the husband is Black, and in 75 percent of White Asian couples, the husband is White
(Sailer, 2003). The frequency of these pairings reflects strong societal norms about who is attractive as a
partner (and who is not).
As discussed earlier (in Chapter , Communication norms vary across cultures, and the romance
context is no exception. For example, in some cultures (e.g., Japan, Indonesia, Kuwait), romantic couples
rarely express their feelings or affections in public (Chung, 2016). Other cultures, as in Indonesia, would
be shocked by kissing in public or other public displays of affection. If you were to do so, you could face
social backlash or even legal consequences, depending on what area of the country you are in ( Starmer-
Smith, 2004). Thus, every relationship is situated within a set
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