Globalization is essential for global development as it encompasses the integration of markets, capital, nation-states, and technologies. This integration enables individuals, groups, corporations, and countries to access any part of the world more extensively, rapidly, profoundly, and economically than ever before (Thomas, 2000). As a result of this integration, there has been an increase in communication between people from diverse cultural backgrounds.
With the growing cross-domain, inter-ethnic, and inter-cultural interactions among economies and societies, Chinese individuals have more chances to connect and communicate with Westerners. This brings us benefits. However, it is crucial to acknowledge that countries possess distinct cultures. For instance, in China, a “full moon” symbolizes celebration and unity whereas “a bright moon in the sky” signifies tranquility and relaxation. Cultural distinctions vary greatly across nations.
In this essay, the influence of cultural differences on my interactions with others will be discussed, specifically regarding my classmates and friends from diverse cultural backgrounds. The challenges of communicating with individuals from different cultures will also be addressed.
Upon arriving in Singapore, difficulties arose due to my limited proficiency in English. This hindered the establishment of relationships with both classmates and roommates. However, I viewed communication with foreigners as an opportunity to practice and improve English skills. Additionally, friendships were sought among international students residing in my student hostel—a diverse mix hailing from Thailand, China, the U.S., Indonesia, France, and South Korea.
Learning effective communication methods with students from diverse cultural backgrounds and different languages is vital. Based on my personal experience, communicating with individuals from other cultures includes the following aspects:
1. It is essential to clearly express your thoughts and minimize any accent you have as people from different cultures may have limited proficiency in your native language.
2. Being patient when someone from another culture struggles to understand what you’re saying is important. You might need to repeat your message and present it differently for better comprehension.
Enhance your active listening skills and grasp of spoken words by allowing individuals the opportunity to express their ideas before offering a response. Focus on understanding their intended message without passing judgment on their character or qualities.
Take note of nonverbal cues such as hand movements, facial expressions, body posture, and personal boundaries since they may carry distinct meanings in various cultures. Invest time in familiarizing yourself with the cultural background of the person you are engaging with so that you can effectively adapt your nonverbal communication.
The notion of “time is money” is deeply embedded in Western culture, often associating time with its monetary worth.
Their strong emphasis on time management is evident in their careful planning and organization prior to taking action, as well as their punctuality. During my diploma, I was fortunate to have a mentor from the UK who exemplified this cultural trait. One particular incident stands out when I spontaneously decided to pay him a visit at his residence after shopping at Vivo City. Much to my surprise, instead of being pleased by my arrival, he expressed anger. It was then that he explained the importance of adhering to Western customs: before visiting someone, it is customary to call or send an advance notice, specifying the purpose, time, and location.
Visiting someone after they accept your request is a reminder of the importance of acknowledging and respecting cultural differences when interacting with individuals from diverse cultures. It is crucial to recognize that people come from distinct cultural backgrounds, which means certain subjects like political matters or personal remarks about their country should be avoided in conversation. Additionally, being mindful of potential conflicts arising from different religions or beliefs is necessary. Before making assumptions based on our own values and attitudes, it is vital to remember this when interacting with someone from a different culture.
Our group had differing opinions on the Power Point background, particularly on the use of color. We attribute different meanings to colors, which affects our perception of them. Consequently, when selecting colors for clothing, decorations, and other items, people often have preferences. It is evident that the symbolism of red is nearly opposite in the Eastern and Western cultures. In the East, red symbolizes luck and fortune. In Chinese festivals, red is frequently used for decoration, such as red lanterns, red Chinese knots, and red firecrackers. However, in Western culture, red represents blood and revolutions.
Chinese people do not consider personal matters such as name, year, marital status, wages, personal life, belief, and political points to be private. They ask these questions to demonstrate their care, although Westerners may view it as an invasion of privacy. For instance, in Chinese culture, expressing concern by saying “Dear”, you have lost weight. From now on, you should pay more attention to your health” or “My friend”, you have gained weight is common. Similarly, asking “Hi”, have you eaten?”, “Where are you going?”, and “What are you going to do?” is a way to show enthusiasm.
Contrary to western countries, inquiring about someone’s meals is not seen as a greeting. Instead, it might be taken as an invitation for dinner. I have friends from foreign countries such as Vietnam, Singapore, and Thailand. One noteworthy individual is a girl from Thailand who spoke English proficiently but faced challenges in expressing herself due to it being her second language. 5) Did any interactions with individuals from diverse cultures within your study groups affect the team dynamics?
During my time in diploma, each course typically involved a group assignment or presentation. In my initial group, our member from Singapore expressed the desire for us to communicate and write in proper English. The objective was to enhance the quality of our assignments while also saving time. The language barrier presented a challenge for effective teamwork, as it impeded communication speed. However, being a Chinese student, I usually handled the simpler and more fundamental tasks. Personally, I hold the belief that a multinational group possesses greater energy and enthusiasm compared to a conventional group.
It is important to read literature, newspapers, magazines, and engage in discussions about current affairs due to diverse education and varied cultural backgrounds. This allows us to gain a comprehensive understanding of other countries’ cultural background, broaden our perspective, enhance communication skills, and prevent potential embarrassments and misunderstandings. The lesson aims to provide valuable information for effectively building working relationships with individuals from significantly different cultures.
Recognizing and accepting cultural disparities is vital for individual and corporate triumph, whether these variances arise within a single nation or among multiple nations. It is imperative to efficiently cooperate with people from various cultures, both at home and abroad. Furthermore, establishing rapport with a culturally diverse clientele is crucial for attaining success. Allocating time and creating chances to establish significant connections and acquire knowledge about other cultures are necessary.
1. Edgar Schein, (2004), Organizational Cultural and Leadership. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
2. The Impact of Study Abroad Educational Travel as a Model for Responsible Tourism By Shoshanna Sumka
3. Thomas Freidman, (2000), The Lexus and the Olive Tree. New York, NY: Anchor Books.