Cross-Cultural Communication – Today’s Necessary Social Skill

The strategic partnership projects (projects for supporting good practice exchanges or innovation) in the academic field aim to encourage the development, transfer and/or implementation of innovative practices, as well as the implementation of common initiatives with the purpose of promotion, cooperation, (peer learning) and experience exchanges throughout Europe.

After participating in the training course Comenius 22.C themed “Effective communication in the European context”, I will present a few key elements of some competencies that are required of teachers who want to start projects or trans-European collaboration/ cooperation actions:

1. Interculturality conscience: Before working with partners or pupils belonging to different cultures, it is necessary to know the defining or general characteristics of those cultures. In order to communicate effectively with these people, it is important to realize that they don’t “see things through your eyes”. Metaphorically, culture can be symbolized by an onion (it has layers), an iceberg (it has a visible and a hidden side) or a tree (it has roots and branches).  You must be prepared to observe, listen and empathize, or you could generate a misunderstanding. It is important to acknowledge a few intercultural communication norms: time, visual contact, partner or partners (team), customs, gestures, interpersonal relationships, language, personal space.

2. Cross-cultural communication: Cross-cultural communication, seen as a social skill, is based on acknowledging cultural norms and strategies suitable to different situations. “Horizontal” communication is accepted between people of same social status or people who know each other very well. “Vertical” communication has 2 poles: at one pole is communication with superiors or the elderly, and at the other pole, communication with inferiors or the youth. Communication, regardless of orientation, must be adapted to each situation. Effective communication is influenced by intonation and the used vocal register.

When you communicate cross-culturally, you must follow some rules: use a simple language (International English, for example); pay attention to non-verbal communication (some gestures may be misunderstood); people are unique: get to know each and every one of them!; be patient; judge your available time correctly; make sure you specify the rules of the group (if you belong to one); ask an expert for help (direct translation can lead to unexpected results); smile!

3. The meeting/gathering: A successful meeting means:
A good preparation beforehand.
A thorough agenda: be on time; keep the focus on the subject/subjects of the meeting.
A relaxed, friendly atmosphere; well-defined targets; an agreement or a result at the end.
A short duration.
Multiple sum-ups.

4. Negotiation: It can be defined as “a discussion meant to lead to an agreement”, a „process through which you get what you want from someone who also wants to get something from you” and is based on a few rules and procedures that are set by a thorough preparation and planning. It usually implies 3 keywords (3C):
Common Interests,
Conflict and
Compromise.

5. Presentation: The presentation is usually structured like this:
a) Introduction.
b) Main body – it may have 2 or 3 parts.
c) Conclusion.

a) In every presentation, the start is crucial. After greeting the audience, the presenter introduces themselves. Then they explain the presentation’s subject/theme, its structure, the audio/video media used, the amount of time necessary for the presentation as well as the moment when questions can be asked.

b) The two or three parts are presented in the order that was established beforehand. There are usual presentation beginning/ending phrases as well as connecting phrases. Rhetorical questions directed at the audience, with the purpose of keeping the audience’s attention, are recommended.

c) Remarks, conclusions and/or recommendations are summarily presented.

In our school, along with Romanian pupils, there are Hungarian and Roma pupils. The acquired information will help elaborate a school-wide action plan, which aims to acknowledge interculturality, and raise the quality of didactic communication and the school’s image in the local community.

The assimilated knowledge regarding interculturality, cultural and social norms, cross-cultural communication, negotiation, meetings, presentations, and written official documents were presented to the teachers in my school, allowing them to be used successfully in relationships with the pupils in our school (and with their parents) who belong to other cultures and with potential European partners. Thus, the European dimension of our school will increase. The information regarding assertive and cross-curricular communication was presented to the school’s administration, and could lead to the improvement of the management style, the identification of information accessing methods, as well as those aspects that pertain to communication and that must be improved upon.

The school will be able to promote an active partnership with the parents and the local community, with the purpose of improving interpersonal relationships through a better understanding of cultural identity, of the defining characteristics of a culture and a better integration of pupils in curricular and extra-curricular activities, regardless of the culture they belong to. I have also discovered what the essential skills for an efficient communication are, these being the basis for all didactic methods and procedures.

 

prof. Luminița-Georgeta Racolța

Profil iTeach: iteach.ro/profesor/luminita.racolta

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