In my experience living in the United States, I have found
that people find it difficult to competently communicate with me. Competent
communication as defined define a book called Interplay, the process of
interpersonal communication, by Adler, Ronald B., Lawrence B.
Rosenfeld, and Russell F, states that “Competent communication
is communicating both effectively and appropriately ” (chapter 1, page 19). This
problem of not being able to communicate competently is sometimes due to the
differences in cultural background but mostly it is because of their individual
experiences of a curtain culture they had in the past. In this paper, I am going
to discuss so of the challenges communicators face during intercultural communication
and some solutions to these challenges.

The first challenge I am going to talk about is the single-story
challenge. Single story as defined by Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi, in a ted talk video as “basing all your knowledge
of a culture on documentaries you’ve see or books you have read”. basing
all their actions on experiences derived from movies and stories told years ago
without considering the possibility that the source of these information may be
inaccurate. In 2014, I arrived at the joint based Lewis McCord army base in
Washington states. As a new private in the military I was introduced to the
head of the platoon I was assigned. There I was in a room with a sergeant with
twenty-seven years of active military service and experience and yet I was the
first African private he ever had. I introduced myself to him and in order to
avoid any awkward questions I told him I was born in Ghana a country in Africa
but I grew up mostly in New York. In an attempt to compensate for his lack of
knowledge of where Ghana was on the African continent, he resorted to a
documentary he had seen few years back. And in the documentary, it showed some
Africans hunting with spears and living in mud houses. with that on his mind he
asked me a question that left me petrified, he asked me how I got to the united
states because he knows for a fact that no African country has the
technological capacity to have an international that moment I was
out of words, so I took a deep breath and told he I flew here on a plane. In
his mind, the African continent was so under developed that there was no way that
the evolution of technology could ever reach the continent. Even with his
twenty-seven years of military experience and traveling all over the world, his
underling ideology of the African continent was that of the 14th
century and not that of the 21st century and because of this he
perceived me to be uneducated and was surprised when I told him the primary
language of Ghana was English.

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Thinking about this problem, you will begin to realize that
you may have at some point in your life you have encountered a similar
situation. A solution to this problem may seem unattainable but in my
experience, taking the time to research different cultures and not taking the documentaries
and books for face value but rather viewing these sauces as a maar fictional
imagination of the author often reduces the effects of this challenge during.

Another challenge that communicators face in intercultural
communication is the influence of expectation. Most people in the united states
be it at school or at work, face a challenge in communicating because of their
expectation from a culture. Different cultures have different expectation when
it comes to my culture women are expected to communicate in a
loving, caring and compassionate manner and because of this, women are expected
to speak and act accordingly. In an article by Mortenson states “Women tend to
place a greater value towards these skills emphasizing the importance of
communication that expresses feelings and emotions. Men, on the other hand,
place a higher importance on active forms of communication such as persuasion
and narrative techniques” (Mortenson, 2002). With this expectation in mind, members
of this culture both male and female are most likely to expect each gender to
act in accordance with their expectation and this in turn affect their
communication process with other cultures outside their own.

to articles by Disch and Steckler & Rosenthal, “To help change this way of
thinking, gender research that explores what makes men and women alike, rather
than different is gaining popularity. Many people do not believe that large
differences between how the sexes communicate actually exist and that
continuing the research that explores these differences can be dangerous by
working to promote self-fulfilling prophecies (Disch, 2009). The differences in
the words we use, the tone of voice, and the way we express our emotion can all
cause some form of misunderstanding with communication. The way in which men
and women communicate, whether through verbal or nonverbal means, can present
differences in how the speaker and the addressee are perceived (Steckler, &
Rosenthal, 1985). Knowing what these differences are can help lessen
misunderstandings and build a greater path of communication between the sexes”.
Also having an open mind when it comes to communicating with different cultures
and not expecting other cultures to be like our own would help minimize the
effects of this problem on our communication.

In my experience,
there is always going to be challenges that affect our communications process
when it comes to intercultural communications but if we take time the time to
find reliable researches on other cultures rather than staying with a single
story from documentaries and fictional novels will minimize the effects on our
communication process. Also keeping an open and acknowledging the differences
that other cultures have from ours will reduce our expectation of each gender
from other cultures. Following these few solutions stated above will go a long way
to help us communicate competently.  

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I'm Colleen!

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