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‘Belonging’ in the Intercultural Communication

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    Analyze how ‘belonging’ is central to intercultural communication. Every individual definitely belongs to something. As a mankind, every individual belong to the place where they born or raise. ‘Belonging’ means that every individual always adopt the life style and culture from the country or a group each individual raised or born. For example, the ways individual eats, how every individual communicate and interact with others. Every place or group has different life style and culture from the other. Every culture has differences, from these differences, the way each individual behave and perceive the world also different.

    This essay deals with a question: how ‘belonging’ is central to intercultural communication and there are three parts in explaining this question. First part will explain how Indonesian people develop their identity and how this identity relates to ‘belonging’. Different place have different culture. When one culture moves to another culture it will need a process called adaptation. Adaptation to another culture is something that is not easy like learning to another language. In adaptation, not all-different culture can be accepted. Usually, the origin culture will reject the new culture.

    This phase can influence the way other individual communicate with others. Last part will focus on how ‘belonging’ also can be a problem in intercultural communication. How ‘belonging’ also can be a barrier for individual in perceive other culture. Stated by Nagel (1994) identity is the basic way in creating the ethnicity. First, each of the individual will begin to explore or discover the characteristics of identity from people around or from the place the individual born. Identity is including ethics, values, morals and beliefs. Usually the identity shaped within age of teenagers. According to Fong (2004, p. 0), there are three stages in cultural identity. First, the individual adopt their culture by without they ask but with what they see surround them. This stage called the unexamined cultural identity. The individual starts to adopt this stage in the childhood. The second stage is the cultural identity search. in this phase individual will become very sensitive to cultural, ethnic, racial changes and the individual start to learn and explore stages of identity. Next stage will make the individual to reflect and evaluate him or her, other culture, and how they adapt to another groups.

    When they adapt to another group, unfairness and sometimes discrimination may happen. When the minor group comes to dominant group, the minor group always adapt to dominant group. The dominant group sometimes disrespect and mistreated the minor group. Mistreated and disrespect the minor group will make them to reject the culture of dominant group and will create a barrier for the minor group in adapting the dominant group. Many identities shaped the individual such as age identity, class identity, spiritual identity, national identity and regional identity. The final stage is cultural identity achievement.

    At this stage, is where the individuals have established their own cultural identity. Usually, they already confidence accept and understand about other culture. it is whether they can adopt and accept it or they are avoid and get use to from the bad comments from the dominant group. Identity influences on how a person speaks and reacts to another culture. For example, in Indonesia, because of Indonesia has many tribes this country is a cultural country. Each of the tribe has an own unique characteristic that is why the Indonesian people are much better in adjustment of another culture.

    Everyday Indonesian people live and communicate with other tribe with has different culture and lifestyle. Still there are difficulties to receive and accept other culture that different from the personal identity. For example, in Indonesia touching another people’s head is very not polite but in Western culture touching head is not a problem. So If Western people touch Indonesian even the context is kidding but the Indonesian will feel the Western is rude and feel disrespect. The identity influence on how Indonesian people react to Western culture.

    When individual moves to another culture, they will learn the rules, ethics, norms and language of the new culture. For example if Indonesian people move to Australia, Indonesian will learn Australian’s culture. The basic and easiest of adaptation is learning the language. By learning the language, Indonesian can communicate with Australian people but by this is not easy, as it seems. Move from one culture to another and learn another culture is called cross-cultural adaptation. In cross-cultural adaption Indonesian people need to adjust themselves and this stage is not easy.

    Sometimes miscommunication happens between Indonesian people and Australian people. Miscommunication occurs because the language has different background. According to Kim (2003, p. 246) there are two types of adaptation, Long-tem adaptation and short-term adaptation. This two types of adaptation is explaining the length of time of individual in adapt to another culture. According to Taft as cited in Kim (2003, p. 246), the concept for long-term adaptation is the individuals already recognized the attitudes, beliefs, behaviors and motivation from another culture.

    Short term is the opposite of the long term. Short term is the difficulties in the transition into a new culture. Usually the individual will distress by the new culture. Stated by Kim (2003, p. 247), long-term and short-term will occur for the individuals who is cross-culture. According to Kim (2003, p. 245), there are four phases in cross-culture adaptation, which are enculturation, deculturation, acculturation and assimilation. Enculturation or socialization is the process in the childhood when occurs into familiar members of culture community. Enculturation is cultural adaptation.

    Then second phase is acculturation. Marden & Meyer as cited in Kim (2003, p. 245) said “the change in individuals whose primary learning has been in one culture and who take over traits from another culture. ” it means that learning one’s own culture as the individuals took. After acculturation, the individual start to deculturation. Deculturation means that the individual entering the process of learning the new culture. For example, food habit, behavior and values from a new culture. When an individual learning something new, it will also lose something old. Last phase is assimilation.

    Assimilation is the last phase of acculturation and deculturation. Acculturation, deculturation and assimilation are the process when individual experiences cross-cultural adaptation. Example for acculturation, decculturation and assimilation above is when Indonesian people move to work in Australia, Australian people is a straight forward. They will talk to the point. In Indonesia, when people talk straightforward the culture assume that is impolite. So when the Western supervisor admonished the employee, who comes from Indonesia with Australian’s culture, the Indonesian will feel offended.

    They will feel offended because in Indonesia the supervisor will not admonished the employee straightforwardly or directly, the supervisor will ask someone that have close enough relationship with the employee to deliver the message. Difficulties in entering the new culture often occur. This process is normal for those who experiences in cross-culture. When experience cross-culture, the individual will enter stage when the individual’s culture reject the new culture. It can be the norms, ethics, beliefs and motivation. When the individual reject the new, unfamiliar culture, the individual enter a cultural shock.

    Delia (2009) define culture shock when an individual interact with a very different another culture and have a negative experience. Culture shock happen when the individual cannot accept another culture, the individual will reject and sometimes have physical and psychological problem such as depression. People experience culture shock because they set perception from their origin culture. According to Delia (2009), there are four stages in culture shock. First, ‘honeymoon’ stage. This stage is when an individual feel enthusiasm and excitement at the beginning. After ‘honeymoon’ stage, there is crisis stage.

    In crisis stage is the hardest and toughest stage. The individual will feel frustration, depressed, isolated and sometimes feel discriminated. After the individual feel depressed and frustration the individual entering recovery stage. This recovery stage or gradual adjustment is when the individual start exits the critical stage. The individual will start to accept and understand the new culture. In this stage, the individuals start to set their own comfort zone. The last stage called biculturalism is when the individual completely accept the new culture and set their position in the new culture. Belonging’ also can be a problem in how individual interact and communicate with others. Explained by Jandt (2003), there are barriers how an individual see other world. First, when the individual think that the world is the same with their point of view. One culture is different to another culture so also the point of view. The problem occur when the individual in the new culture make their own perception that their culture as the center and think that their culture is the right one. The climax of the problem is when they think that the new culture is the same with their culture.

    They assume the new culture is similar to their culture. For example, spitting in Australia is against the law but not in China and Indonesia. If Chinese or Indonesian people visit to Australia and they assume that Australia is the same with their culture, then the problem will occur. Next is ethnocentrism. According to Jandt (2003), ethnocentrism is judging another culture based on one’s own culture. To be ethnocentrism is when an individual believe that their culture is more superior to the other culture. The last problem and the most difficult problem is to understand the non-verbal communication of other culture.

    Understanding another culture’s non-verbal communication is difficult because sometimes it is under conscious and unintentional. Some non-verbal communication has the same with other culture but some each culture has their uniqueness. “Non-verbal expression are vary from culture to another culture and it is just those variations that make nonverbal misinterpretation a barrier”. Said Jandt (2003, p. 128). Example in misunderstanding the non-verbal message is in Australia when the lecture explaining, the student sometimes take notes and asking a question or make an argument in the middle while the lecture is explaining.

    In Indonesia, when the lecture explaining the student will be quiet and not ask any question until the lecture is finish. However, we can see how individual’s identity is created in the childhood. Identity is something that creates all of us. It needs adaptation when moving to another culture. To adapt with another culture needs patience and understanding. Easiest way to adapt other cultures by respect other culture. Respect other culture can be start with the perception. Respect other culture by think equally between our own culture and other culture.

    Baldwin, J. R. 2011. Cross-cultural adaptation. Retrieved on 14 January, 2012. http://my. ilstu. edu/~jrbaldw/372/Adaptation. htm Delia, F. 2009. Culture shock in intercultural communication. Retrieved on 14 January, 2012. http://www. thefreelibrary. com/Culture+shock+in+intercultural+communication. -a 0221850915 Fong, M. 2004. Multiple dimension of Identity. In: Fong, M. and Chuan, R. Communicating Ethnic and Cultural Identity. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield. 19-34. Gardner, G. H. 2012. The journal of social psychology.

    Cross Cultural Communication, 58(2), 241-256. Harvey, B. 2007. Advances in communication theory & research. Testing the Integrative Theory of Cross-Cultural Adaptation, I(2), 5-18. Jandt, F. E. 2004. Intercultural communication: A global reader. California: Sage Publication Inc. Jandt, F. E. 2004. Nonverbal Communication. In: Jandt F. E. An introduction to Intercultural Communication (4th edition). London, New Delhi: Sage, 120-145. Nagel, Joane. 1994. Constructing ethnicity: Creating and recreating ethnic identity and culture. Social Problems. 41(1), 152-153.

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