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Encyclopedia > Intercultural competence

Intercultural competence is the ability of successful communication with people of other cultures. This ability can exist in someone at a young age, or may be developed and improved due to willpower and competence. The bases for a successful intercultural communication are emotional competence, together with intercultural sensitivity. Communication is a process that allows beings - in particular humans - to exchange information by several methods. ... For other uses, see Culture (disambiguation). ... The grammar in this article needs to be checked. ... Look up competence, incompetence in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Emotional competence refers to a persons competence in expressing or releasing their emotions. ... The sensitivity or insensitivity of a human, often considered with regard to a particular kind of stimulus, is the strength of the feeling it results in, in comparison with the strength of the stimulus. ...

Interculturally competent is a person who captures and understands, in interaction with people from foreign cultures, their specific concepts in perception, thinking, feeling and acting. Earlier experiences are considered, free from prejudices; there is an interest and motivation to continue learning. Interaction is a kind of action that occurs as two or more objects have an effect upon one another. ... For with(out) prejudice in law, see Prejudice (law). ...



Cultures can be different not only between continents or nations, but also within the same company or even family. (geographical, ethnical, moral, ethical, religious, political, historical) resp. cultural affiliation or cultural identity. Animated, colour-coded map showing the various continents. ... For other uses, see Nation (disambiguation). ... Look up company in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... a family of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso in 1997 Family is a Western term used to denote a domestic group of people, or a number of domestic groups linked through descent (demonstrated or stipulated) from a common ancestor, marriage or adoption. ... Map of the Earth Geography (from the Greek words Geo (γη) or Gaea (γαια), both meaning Earth, and graphein (γραφειν) meaning to describe or to writeor to map) is the study of the earth and its features, inhabitants, and phenomena. ... An ethnic group is a group of people who identify with one another, or are so identified by others, on the basis of a boundary that distinguishes them from other groups. ... A moral is a one sentence remark made at the end of many childrens stories that expresses the intended meaning, or the moral message, of the tale. ... For other uses, see Ethics (disambiguation). ... Various Religious symbols, including (first row) Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Bahai, (second row) Islamic, tribal, Taoist, Shinto (third row) Buddhist, Sikh, Hindu, Jain, (fourth row) Ayyavazhi, Triple Goddess, Maltese cross, pre-Christian Slavonic Religion is the adherence to codified beliefs and rituals that generally involve a faith in a spiritual... The Politics series Politics Portal This box:      Politics is the process by which groups of people make decisions. ... The title page to The Historians History of the World. ... Cultural identity is the (feeling of) identity of a group or culture, or of an individual as far as he is influenced by his belonging to a group or culture. ...

Typical examples of cultural differences

The perception is different and often selective [1]:

  • In Arabic countries the odors (of condiments, coffee etc.) are often perceived in more differentiated ways than in, for example, North America.
  • In Asian countries the conception of time is rather past-oriented (ancestors, values), in Latin American countries as well as southern European countries, rather present-oriented, and in western Europe as well as North America rather future-oriented (achieving goals).

Behavior and gestures are interpreted differently: Odor receptors on the antennae of a Luna moth An odor or odour (see spelling differences) is a chemical dissolved in air, generally at a very low concentration, which we perceive by the sense of olfaction. ... Salt, sugar and pepper are the most essential condiments in Western cuisine. ... A cup of coffee. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... This article includes a list of works cited or a list of external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks in-text citations. ...

  • Showing the thumb held upwards in the Americas, especially Brazil and the United States, means "everything's ok", while it is understood in some Islamic countries as a rude sexual sign.
  • "Everything ok" is shown in western European countries, especially between pilots and divers, with the sign of the thumb and forefinger forming an "O". This sign means in Japan "now we may talk about money", in southern France the contrary ("nothing, without any value"), in some Latin American countries, Eastern Europe and Russia it is an indecent sexual sign.
  • In North America as well as in Arabic countries the pauses between words are usually not too long, while in Japan pauses can give a contradictory sense to the spoken words. Enduring silence is perceived as comfortable in Japan, while in India, Europe and North America it may cause insecurity and embarrassment. Scandinavians, by Western standards, are more tolerant of silent breaks during conversations.
  • Laughing is connoted in most countries with happiness - in Japan it is often a sign of confusion, insecurity and embarrassment.
  • In the UK and Commonwealth countries the word "compromise" has a positive meaning (as a consent, an agreement where both parties win something); in North America and Ireland it may, at times, have negative connotations (as both parties lose something) (this phenomenon tends to happen highly competitive atmospheres where consensus has broken down).
  • If invited to dinner, in some Asian countries and Central America it is well-mannered to leave right after the dinner: the ones who don’t leave may indicate they have not eaten enough. In the Indian sub-continent, Europe, South America, and North American countries this is considered rude, indicating that the guest only wanted to eat but wouldn’t enjoy the company with the hosts.
  • In Mediterranean European countries, Latin America, and Sub-Saharan Africa, it is normal, or at least widely tolerated, to arrive half an hour late for a dinner invitation, whereas in Germany and in the United States this would be considered very rude.
  • In Africa, Arab cultures, and certain countries in South America [citation needed] (not in Brazil), saying to a female friend one has not seen for a while that she has put on weight means she is physically healthier than before and had a nice holiday, whereas this would be considered an insult in India, Europe, North America and Australia.
  • In Africa, avoiding eye contact or looking at the ground when talking to one's parents, an elder, or someone of higher social status is a sign of respect. In contrast, these same actions are signals of deception or shame (on the part of the doer) in North America and most of Europe.
  • In Persian culture, if a person offers an item (i.e a drink), it is customary to not instantly accept it. A sort of role play forms with the person offering being refused several times out of politeness before their offering is accepted. This tradition is known as 'tarof' which in Persian literally means 'offer'. A similar exchange happens in many East Asian countries.
  • In African, South American and Mediterranean cultures, talking and laughing loudly in the streets and public places is widely accepted, whereas in some Asian cultures it is considered rude and may be seen as a mark of self-centeredness or attention-seeking.

Laughing Child Laughter is the biological reaction of humans to moments or occasions of humor: an outward expression of amusement. ... Look up Compromise in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...


Basic needs are sensitivity and self-consciousness: the understanding of other behaviors and ways of thinking as well as the ability to express one’s own point of view in a transparent way with the aim to be understood and respected by staying flexible where this is possible, and being clear where this is necessary. See: Sensitivity (electronics) Sensitivity (human) Sensitivity (tests) For sensitivity in finance, see beta coefficient This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... For the understanding that one exists, see Self-awareness. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ...

It is a balance, situatively adapted, between three parts:

  1. knowledge (about other cultures, people, nations, behaviors…),
  2. empathy (understanding feelings and needs of other people), and
  3. self-confidence (knowing what I want, my strengths and weaknesses, emotional stability).

This article needs additional references or sources for verification. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Not to be confused with Pity, Sympathy, or Compassion. ... Confidence is trust or faith that a person or thing is capable. ...

Cultural differences

Cultural characteristics can be differentiated between several dimensions and aspects (the ability to perceive them and to cope with them is one of the bases of intercultural competence), such as:

It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Geert Hofstede. ... Uncertainty avoidance is a cultural index developed by Dutch sociologist Geert Hofstede. ... Power distance is a cultural index derived by sociologist Geert Hofstede. ... “Value” redirects here. ... A pocket watch, a device used to tell time Look up time in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Space has been an interest for philosophers and scientists for much of human history. ... In psychology and the cognitive sciences, perception is the process of acquiring, interpreting, selecting, and organizing sensory information. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ...


For assessment of intercultural competence as an existing ability and / or the potential to develop it (with conditions and timeframe), the following characteristics are tested and observed: ambiguity tolerance, openness to contacts, flexibility in behavior, emotional stability, motivation to perform, empathy, metacommunicative competence, polycentrism. It has been suggested that Course evaluation be merged into this article or section. ... Ambiguity tolerance is the ability to perceive ambiguities (contradictory issues which may be difficult to understand) in social and cultural behaviors as well as information with equivocal (several) meanings in a neutral and open way. ... Not to be confused with Pity, Sympathy, or Compassion. ... Metacommunicative competence is the ability to steeringly intervene within difficult conversations and to correct communication problems by utilizing the different ways of practical communication: verbal communication: by words or their meaning paraverbal communication: loudness of speaking, manner of speaking, when keeping silent, meaning of interrupting or interfering the conversation nonverbal... Polycentrism is the principle of organisation of a region around several political, social or financial centres. ...


It is important that intercultural competence training and skills not break down into application of stereotypes of a group of individuals. Although the goal is to promote understanding between groups of individuals that, as a whole, think somewhat differently, it may fail to recognize the specific differences between individuals of any given group. These differences can often be larger than the differences between groups, especially with heterogeneous populations and value systems (such as found in the USA.)

External links

See also

This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... Cross-cultural communication (also frequently referred to as intercultural communication) is a field of study that looks at how people from differing cultural backgrounds endeavour to communicate. ... Cultural assimilation (often called merely assimilation) is an intense process of consistent integration whereby members of an ethno-cultural group, typically immigrants, or other minority groups, are absorbed into an established, generally larger community. ... Cultural competence is a term used for the ability of people of one culture to understand and feel comfortable with the cultures of other people. ... This article does not cite its references or sources. ... Main articles: Pluralism and Multiculturalism Cultural pluralism exists when all groups within a larger society maintain their unique cultural identities. ... Ignorance about African cultures can lead to accidental breeches of etiquette. ... In Asia, many points of good etiquette are derived from religious beliefs. ... As expectations regarding good manners differ from person to person and vary according to each situation, no treatise on the rules of etiquette nor any list of faux pas can ever be complete. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... As expectations regarding good manners differ from person to person and vary according to each situation, no treatise on the rules of etiquette nor any list of faux pas can ever be complete. ... The Middle East contains a multitude of societies with different traditions regarding etiquette. ... Look up faux pas in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Interaction is a kind of action that occurs as two or more objects have an effect upon one another. ... Intercultural communication principles guide the process of exchanging meaningful and unambiguous information across cultural boundaries, in a way that preserves mutual respect and minimises antagonism. ... Interculturalism is the philosophy of exchanges between cultural groups within a society. ... Intercultural relations is a relatively new formal field of social science studies. ... Interpersonal communication is the process of sending and receiving information or communication with another person. ... There are very few or no other articles that link to this one. ... Moral syncretism consists of the attempt to reconcile disparate or contradictory moral beliefs, often while melding the ethical practices and of various schools of thought. ... The multicultural national representation of the countries of origin at the student union of San Francisco City College. ... It has been suggested that Convention (norm) be merged into this article or section. ... Bus shelter with seats with armrests, designed to deter proximity, as well as sleeping. ... Social Identity Theory is a theory formed by Henri Tajfel and John Turner to understand the psychological basis of intergroup discrimination. ... Transculturation is a term coined by Fernando Ortiz in 1947 to describe the phenomenon of merging and converging cultures. ... As expectations regarding good manners differ from person to person and vary according to each situation, no treatise on the rules of etiquette nor any list of potential faux pas can ever be complete. ...




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