What is Intercultural Communication?
Sometimes, the most difficult speech is when I’m writing for someone demographically similar to me. With someone different, listening and then, writing, is easier because I know what to expect.
I often write for an international audience. My speaker might speak English, but as a second language to listeners whose second language is likewise English. Multiple countries are at play, with an array of intercultural issues. You may be dealing with related challenges.
We use our skills and experience to navigate, albeit imperfect these complexities. Do we work in a domestic-only firm, or just with native speakers of locally? We are still working cross-culturally.
No one is born in, and then lives in a vacuum. We absorb a myriad of influences.
One of my speakers last year in Singapore was an American-born Chinese woman. Her audience was pan-Asian. Each person reached success differently and bore different agendas. My client’s speech had a singular goal but it required layers and textures that needed to feel seamless. As we worked together, our commonly was evident, though so was our diversity.
I grew up in a middle-class suburb southwest of Chicago with parents of Irish and Hungarian descent, but neither was an immigrant. My paternal grandparents, especially my grandmother, had accents. Among my best friends as a child was a Chinese. My high school was 49% white. However, the school, and the communities which fed into it, weren’t well-integrated. Then, I went to a large state university south in a city surrounded by cornfields, only to move back to attend a small international grad school in an affluent Chicago suburb.
I could continue but you get the idea. Who am I? It gets complicated, particularly in this age of easy communication across the globe and relatively inexpensive flights. Who is everyone else is no less convoluted. Any two people in conversation is an intercultural communications event.
As such, we need to remember how those who grew up next door, who look like us, whose accents come from the same root, may, in fact, but just as dissimilar communicationally as the person a 15-hour plane flight away. Intercultural communication is part of our lives.
Read what I can do for international clients.