© Article translated from the book “Negoziazione interculturale. Comunicazione oltre le barriere culturali” (Intercultural Negotiation: Communication Beyond Cultural Barriers) copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available. If you are interested in publishing the book in English, or any other language, or seek Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching, Mentoring and Consulting, please feel free to contact the Website on Intercultural Negotiation
Intercultural Levels and the Limits of Communication
The accuracy of the information exchange can be improved by reducing the distance along the “code” dimension, which is equivalent to reducing the linguistic distance. In some cases this means learning a foreign language, a dialect or subdialect within a nation, but also learning a professional language, a non-verbal code that characterizes other cultures, proxemic gestures and modalities, cadences and paralinguistic aspects of communication.
The agreement can be improved by decreasing the degree of difference between communicators in values, myths, beliefs, attitudes and ideologies – differences that can have negative consequences in the communication process. Furthermore, as the two are highly interrelated, an increase in code understanding will increase the ability of worldview understanding, and vice versa.
The 2V model can be a useful tool for analyzing hypothetical types of communications. However, the code and worldview dimensions should not always be considered completely different or completely the same, as they vary along a continuum of differences / similarities. Intercultural levels depend on the quantity and quality of difference in the world view and in the communicative code.
On this scale of communication differences, we believe that the ends of the two continuums (the COMSITS presented) represent only hypothetical points and that no real communication event can ever be located in one of the four “pure” COMSITS. In a visual way, this concept of “gradualness” in the differences can be represented by erasing the separations between the 4 quadrants and instead inserting a rating scale.
A further relevant reflection consists in evaluating whether all the points in the table could be realistically represented by a possible communication event.
Indeed, we believe that no real communication event can be located exactly on the edges (the perimeter of the table).
The underlying hypothesis depends on four axioms of communication that we formulate below:
- COMCOND 1) impossibility of having a completely identical communication code between two individuals;
- COMCOND 2) impossibility of having a completely equal worldview between two individuals;
- COMCOND 3) impossibility of having a completely different communication code between two individuals;
- COMCOND 4) impossibility of having a completely different world view between two individuals.
Some research perspectives on communication support these hypotheses.The genetic codes that govern the biological foundations of non-verbal and paralinguistic communication are similar for every human being.Human beings, like primates, always share a certain degree of similarity and are able to encode and decode signs and signals in some circumstances (eg: physical aggression) without differences between cultures.
In general, the ability to interpret human behavior increases in situations in which cultural codes are less relevant and biological codes take over, such as situations involving survival (aggression) and other more instinctive behaviors (such as eating or sex) .
Furthermore, the research results of Eckman and Friesen (1987) revealed a high level of agreement between cultures in their interpretation of facial expressions of emotions.Saral (1972) also highlighted the transversal and cross-cultural nature of facial communication and expressions.A decrease in the relevance of the cultural code and an increase in the relevance of the instinctive code can also be observed in human-animal communication and in general in communication between species, particularly in conditions of danger.
In other words, people of different cultures or creatures belonging to different species have the ability to perceive the aggressive or non-verbal friendly behavior of a member of another culture or species, while more cultural behaviors will be less interpretable. Biological constraints also have an influence on the impossibility of having a complete difference in the world view (COMCOND 4).
Every human being shares at a basic and instinctual level the tendency to reproduce the species, the attempt not to die of hunger or cold, the protection of children, and in general the behavior of biologically evolved living beings.The evolution towards self-realization is then one of the states that most characterizes every human being, as Carl Rogers points out, and cultures and religions only establish different modalities or “variations on the theme” of this underlying tendency towards self-realization.
The pursuit of self-destruction, the deliberate pursuit of hunger and suffering for oneself and one’s children, the pursuit of non-self-realization (whatever that means for a person) are extremely anomalous and deviant characteristics of the child’s behavior. ‘human being.
Statistically these cases represent outliers, that is cases extremely out of the norm.What we have in common biologically as human beings is vastly superior to what divides us culturally. Empathy techniques (learning to understand the world view of others) and greater attention to the optimization of communication codes can make an enormous contribution to the development of intercultural communication.
The improvement of intercultural communication, in turn, generates an enormous impulse to the realization of common development projects between states, cultures and countries – projects that do not have geographical barriers and borders, but unite people towards a common tendency to personal, social self-realization. and economical.
Human behavior is determined by two types of forces: from cultural conditioning (ontogenetic, learned during growth) and from hereditary biological conditioning (phylogenetic, received from DNA), and ontogenetic (cultural) learning is always grafted onto a phylogenetic basis, which constitutes our common heritage, and no culture will ever be able to scratch, but at the most it will be able to cover, to make people forget.
At the same time, the impossibility of a completely equal code derives from the great depth and semantic variety of signs (the semantic field is the extension and range of possible meanings of a sign).The meaning attributed to the signs is not a stable or “given” element, but is the result of a symbolic agreement between individuals, that is, it is the product of socializationand interpersonal and intergroup agreements, but socialization varies continuously over time, space, and between individual and individual, group and group, and therefore the meanings of the signs also continuously vary.
The signs, and the codes, are alive, and they change. Each dyad of individuals, each group, creates its own communication code over time, attributing particular meanings to the signs used.
This happens, and often unconsciously, within companies. The error determines how much it is taken for granted that the interlocutor of the counterparty company has a shared code. This problem requires a great work of metacommunication, that communicative activity that serves to explain the meaning attributed to the signs emitted and verify the accuracy of the meaning perceived in the signs received.
As with the code, no individual, no organized group, possesses exactly the same range of values, behaviors, attitudes, worldviews, beliefs, ideological positions, over the whole range of objects and situations that become objects of communication. Recognizing diversity is the first useful tool to be able to face it.
© Article translated from the book “Negoziazione interculturale, comunicazione oltre le barriere culturali” (Intercultural Negotiation: Communication Beyond Cultural Barriers) copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available for any Publisher wishing to consider it for publication in English and other languages except for Italian and Arab whose rights are already sold and published. If you are interested in publishing the book in English, or in Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching and Consulting, please feel free to contact the author from the webstite www.danieletrevisani.com
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