Intercultural Communication Competence

This is the ability to interact effectively with members belonging to another culture. The following are the five components of intercultural communication competence outlined by Samovar, Porter, and McDaniel (2009):

  1. Motivation refers to the desire to communicate and understand the culture of others.
  2. Cultural knowledge is one’s awareness and understanding of another culture’s rules, traditions, and behavior, as well as how to communicate appropriately in different contexts.
  3. Communication skills involves the ability to listen, observe, and comprehend nonverbal and verbal symbols used in communication by people of a different culture.
  4. Sensitivity is characterized by being open to other cultures, demonstrating empathy, and having the ability to adapt to certain situations.
  5. Character is evaluated through trustworthiness, respect, and honor, among others. How one evaluates another’s character affects one’s reactions to communication.

Improving Intercultural Communication Skills

The following are suggestions that may help you to improve your intercultural communication skills:

  1. Be open to new ideas, beliefs, experiences, and ways of living.
  2. Avoid dogmatic thinking. Reflect on your personal ideas or beliefs held by your culture in terms of what is wrong or right, moral or immoral, etc.
  3. Ask yourself whether you practice discrimination, racism, prejudice, stereotyping, or ethnocentrism. Ask yourself if there is any objective evidence that would justify your thoughts or feelings towards a particular social or cultural group. If there is none, try to change your thinking.
  4. Be aware of how identities shape behaviors.
  5. Avoid stereotypes, totalization, and generalizations.
  6. Develop sensitivity towards other cultural beliefs.
  7. When communicating, avoid thinking that you are superior or inferior to others by belonging to a particular cultural group (based on social class, religion, nationality, gender, age, etc.)