Difficulties in Intercultural Communication
A conflict refers to the disagreement between two or more parties because of incompatiblegoals. Theparties disagree because they are interested in the same subject. It is practically impossible for people to live without conflicts at all. However, people should try and resolve their conflicts amicably to avoid escalation of conflicts into violence. Culture is one of the causes of conflicts. Culture refers to the beliefs, norms, and values of a specific community. People with a particularculture find it themselves conflicting with those who have different values. There are many factors that differ in every culture. Thus, culture gives and individual his identity and defines what he believes in and how he handles his issues. American and Asians have different culturesbecause they come from different continents. They conflict in various situations because what an Asian believes is right, an American takes it as a wrong. Thus, they are potential parties to conflict whenever they are together. This paper analyzes intercultural conflicts between Americans and Asians. It explores the cultural challengesencountered when Americans and Asians interact. It also explains how culture shapes the understanding of intercultural conflict analysis, using Asian and American cultures as a case study.
When communicating with foreigners such as Asians, Americans conflict because of the pronunciation of words and dialect. Asians are not native English speakers. They pronounce words differently. Therefore, there might be a conflict as a result of miscommunication. An Asian might pronounce a word that means a different thing to Americans(Ting-Toomey and Oetzel16). Thus, they might disagree, not because they havedifferent views, but because the Americans understood the wrong word. Similarly, the choice of words is also different. Word choice is highly influenced by the mother tongue. Consequently, there might be conflicts because of misuse of language that causesthe conflict of data.
There are many causes of conflict when people from different cultures communicate. Firstly, Americans have different privacy values from the Asians. When Asians are talking, they will comfortably discuss topics as marital status, age or income. They do not worry discussing such topics with people of any age. However, Americans think that such topics as intrusive and annoying. They are uncomfortable to discuss them as they believe they are private. In this case, there is likely to be conflict when the two cultures are ina discussion. An American will fill offended if an Asian asks him about his age or income. Such topics can cause conflicts and destroys the friendship between Asian and Americans.
Secondly, Asians and Americans have different family values that might cause conflicts when people from the two culturescommunicate. The American family is meant to teach the children how to be independent. The elderlypeople live with their children under the same roof. However, the Asians have high respect for the elderly. Most of them believe that they should not eat with them as they might disrespect them. In China, there is a ceremony where children wash the feet of the elderly every year to show them respect. In this case, an American and an Asian will disagree on how the senior citizens should be treated.
Thirdly, the American and Asian cultures define friends differently, which is a potential cause of conflict whenever the tow communities are together. Americans believe that every person they talk to for a short time is a friend. They make friends easily whenever they go. They value the short-time friendship. Americans believe that a person who you have spent ten minutes with is no longer a stranger.On the other hand, Asians have a differentdefinition of friendship. They believe that a friend is a person who you have known for a long period of time. Asians do not make every person a friend. It takes along time for them to trust a stranger and make him a friend. Therefore, an American would be embarrassed when he says that an Asian is a friend, while they have only been together for one day. The Asian is likely to say that they have only known each other for afew hours, and maybe they might be friends, indicating that they are not friends yet.
Fourthly, Asians are conservative and save money more than Americans. They believe that they should save for their future generation. Asians take a lot of thinking and consultation when they want to spend a large amount of money. On the other hand, Americans do not have a culture of saving. They can save for education or emergency, but they do not value saving like the Asian. Americans prefer living a comfortable life when they have money. Since they teach their children to be independent, they do not care much about their future generation. Americans can be embarrassed if they are given the same amount of money with Asians. After one year, an Asian comes back with a lot of money, having spent less than a quarter of the money. The American might come back without any money or with little money. Such situations are likely to cause conflicts.
Asians and American cultures differ on their value for education. Asians believe that education gives individuals many chances in life. They work hard in school and do their assignments keenly. They spend a lot of time in school acquiring different skills and academic certificate. In contrast, Americans put more value onindividuality, faith, and good character. They believe that an individual can succeed in life without high education even if they have proper morals. They teach their children to be independent. Thus, the child grows up knowing that they have to relate well to people as the parents will not always be there to fight for them. An America might be rich but have no academic certificate like those of an Asian. It might embarrass him if the two are asked to produce their academic evidence.
Lastly, Asians value collectivism while Americans value individualism. The differences in these values arepotential causes of conflict between the two cultures. According to Asians, everything an individual earns or wins is attributed to communal, family or teamwork. They believe that an individual work with others to achieve greatness. Even if the community does not contribute directly, its role is recognized. However, Americans believe that an individualsucceeds because he is industrious. He is the only one recognized inthevictory. The achievement benefits the individual who has achieved, unlike the Asians who believe that the achievement should benefit the entire community.
Inter-cultural communication should be effective to avoid conflicts especially in this era of globalization. Since people understand that their counterparts pronounce words differently, they should ensure that the audience gets a written copy in case of speech. If the communication is verbal and non-formal, the people talking should be aware of the differences in culture. Thus, they will be in a position to ask for clarification if they fail to understand any part of the communication. Additionally, people should be encouraged to learn different cultures so that they will appreciate what the others do. It is wrong only to understand the culture that an individual belongs to while there are many communities with different cultures.
Conflicts resulting from inter-cultural communication are complex. They require experts to analyze the roots causes of the conflicts. Members of the conflicting parties who understand the difference in cultures between the parties should be involved in the resolution mechanisms. They should discuss the difference in culture that has made them to conflict. The members of the conflicting parties should be made to understand that they have differentcultures. Since it is hard to change their cultures and take the cultures of the other party, they should be encouraged to understand the cultures of their enemy. People can embrace the cultures of the others if they learn how they behave. They are able to understand why they behave in a different way. They can form forums that will make them come together so that they can interact. Consequently, they will have an easy way resolving the disputes. Additionally, intercultural conflicts require empowerment of both parties. Sometimes intercultural conflicts escalate if one of the parties feels neglected. Therefore, the conflict can only be resolved if the resources are equally shared between the parties. The parties can then negotiate their cultural differences and come up with lasting solutions.
In conclusion, differences in culture cause conflicts. People of the same culture share the same language, values, norms, beliefs and sometimes religion. They disagree with others who have different cultures. Americans and Asians have differentcultures. They have different values on education, privacy, saving money, family values and friendship. These are potential causes of conflicts between the two races. Their pronunciation and language difference can also because conflicts. Intercultural conflicts can be reduced if people learn cultures of the other people. They will appreciate what other people value and conflicts will reduce.