Intercultural Communication: The image of the other: how useful are generalisations
1 Take some time to formulate what can hinder effective intercultural communication.
2 Finish these sentences:
The Belgian are…
The Germans are…
The Brazilians are…
The Japanese are…
(Your own culture) are…
Specialists say that humans perceive reality through
It must be pointed out that such
Here we are going to focus briefly on the
- Consist basically of shared beliefs or thoughts about a particular human group usually in terms of
behaviour, habits, etc.
- The objective of stereotypes is to simplify reality: “they are like that”.
- They may be negative and positive - we often have positive stereotypes about our own cultural group.
- A prejudice is a
judgementwe make about another person or other people without really knowing them.
- Prejudices are learned as part of our
socialisationprocess and they are very difficult to modify or eradicate. Therefore it is important that we are aware that we have them.
- They can also be negative or positive.
- This is the belief that our response to the world - our culture - is the right one. Our values and ways of life are universal, they are the correct ones for all people.
judgements, evaluations andjustifications are influenced strongly by our ethnocentrism.
- Mere contact with people from other cultures can actually reinforce our prejudices, our ethnocentric spectacles blinding us to anything but to what we actually expect to see.
Based on All Different, All Equal (2004), Autobiography of Intercultural Encounters (2009)
Hands-on Tasks and Reflection
1 Go back to task 1 from the Lead-in section. Why did you finish the sentences in the way you did? Was it the result of a stereotype or possibly of a prejudice you may have towards one of these cultural groups (including your own)?
2 Go back to task 3 from Part Two, Topic 1, Hands-on tasks and reflection. Answer the following question on the basis of your reflections on the encounter you described trying to avoid
- What did this encounter teach you about the other person and the other person’s culture?
3 We hold similar
- The boss is always right.
- Secretaries can’t think on their own.
- It’s not polite to tell people what you really think about their performance.
- Administrative staff should always be flexible and change procedures if necessary.
Which of them do you agree with? Why?
Can you add more?
Which of these might have a negative impact if you work on an intercultural