Considering degrees of interculturalness
Cultures can at times be compared across scales. Consider what degree of shared culture you might have with others in intercultural interactions. To the degree we note differences between us, we might expect more potential for misunderstandings.
One of our institute’s invited colleagues Prof. Myron Lustig and his wife, Prof. Jolene Koester, have a very useful perspective on how best to apply intercultural communication concepts to everyday life. You can find this in their book Intercultural Competence: Interpersonal Communication across Cultures.
They note that Intercultural communication is considered different from other types of communication not because of its type, but by the degree of shared cultures between communicators. Most encounters occur somewhere between the two ends marked as “the most intercultural” and “the least intercultural”.
Depending on how you draw boundaries for cultural groups, whether by shared demographics or common beliefs and interests, each communication event can be marked on this “interculturalness” scale. We recommend you try to map out your own personal scale – which cultural groups do you think are most like you or least like you on a continuum? How do you think these possible distances or differences might contribute to difficulties in intercultural communication?
© Shanghai International Studies University