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A summary of Stumbling Blocks in Intercultural Communication

A summary of “Stumbling Blocks in Intercultural

Communication”

It is often disappointed and filled with misunderstanding to contact with persons from other cultures. To many people’s surprise, good intentions and the possibility of mutual benefits don’t guarantee success of intercultural communication. As a matter of fact, there are many stumbling blocks in intercultural communication:

(1)Assumption of similarities is a stumbling block to successful intercultural communication. Most of us tend to assume that there are adequate similarities to exchange information each other. But even Darwin’s theory– facial expressions are universal, is useful or not depending on a person’s cultural upbringing. Without being aware of possible differences between diverse culture, people will be easily deceived and apt to get into trouble.

(2)Language difference is the second stumbling block. A word or phrase may have variable meanings, especially when people add inflection and tonal qualities.

(3)Nonverbal misinterpretations is the third stumbling block. People from different cultures and different sensory use their own personal world of recognition to comprehend the things that they meet. Being short of comprehension of gestures, postures and other body movements is a huge communication obstacle and easily results in misunderstandings.

(4)The fourth stumbling block is the presence of preconceptions and stereotypes. Stereotypes have the advantage of reducing the threat of the unknown by making the world predictable. But stereotypes also block intercultural communication because of their interference with objective viewing of stimuli. People can hardly overcome stereotypes by themselves.

(5)The practice of immediate evaluation is the fifth stumbling block. Immediate evaluation means that someone always consider himself as right, proper and natural without completely comprehension. When feelings and emotions involved, communication will be cutoff dramatically by immediate evaluation. In this occasion, listening with understanding is urgently needed.

(6)The sixth stumbling block is high anxiety. Moderate anxiety is good for people who stay in foreign country, while high anxiety will result in many problems. They may have defenses to foreigners because of the feeling of strange and vulnerable. These defenses have a bad effect on intercultural communication.

Knowing the six stumbling blocks can help us to improve our ability of intercultural communication. We have to pay attention to situational details and keep to know foreign people’s customs, goals, and thought patterns.