Intercultural communication competence (ICC) is defined as the ability to interact effectively and efficiently across cultures, as well as the ability to connect properly in a variety of cultural contexts. It is a method of carrying out communication activities in a given context in order to evoke the desired response. Competent communicators should be able to communicate effectively with others and with their surroundings.
To allow effective communication in the global context, ICC requires the ability to understand one’s own culture as well as the cultures of others. Intercultural communication competence consists of a range of behavioral skills and cognitive effectiveness that facilitate and promote appropriate and active communication among people of different cultures (Fantini 458). Effective intercultural communication is stemmed by behaviors that culminate with having the desired goals of the interaction accomplished. Appropriate ICC includes behaviors which meet the needs and suits the expectations of a specific culture, the relationship between the communicators, and the characteristics of the situations.
Intercultural Communication Competence is necessary because it facilities individuals to cope with the unexpected, connect to the frameworks that are uncommon, and adapt to the non-routine situations. In addition, ICC helps in the development of vital skills which encompass the ability to listen, accumulate and emphasize cultural information, manage anxiety, and solve conflicts (Jandt 11). To develop intercultural communication Competence, there is need to adapt to new and indeterminate situations and not just staying in comfort zones. Conversely, personal change is necessarily required to enhance learning about oneself and others and in establishing a basis from which to build relevant skills, attitudes, and competence. Besides looking at the definition and the importance, this paper also focuses on the components of Intercultural Communication Competence which encompass motivation, knowledge, behaviors, attitudes, and skills.
Components of intercultural communication competence
There are many mechanisms of intercultural communication competence. Some of the main parts include knowledge, motivation, attitude (Tolerance for uncertainty), skills, and behaviors.
Motivation refers to the needs, feelings, and intentions related to actual engagement in or anticipation of intercultural communication and can be intrinsic or extrinsic. A persons motivation to communicate with people is crucial if he or she is driven by a healthy curiosity towards intercultural encounters to learn about self and others and establish a foundation from which to build a significant competence, relevant attitudes, and skills. Intrinsic motivation makes ICC a voluntary, rewarding and lifelong learning process. Extrinsic motivation, on the other hand, is driven by an external reward such as money, recognition, or power. Individuals will probably be more motivated, intrinsically and extrinsically, towards intercultural communication when in dominant groups as compared to when they are in non-dominant assemblies.
Knowledge is a supplement to motivation, and it forms a significant part of building ICC. It involves cognitive flexibility, self-awareness and of others, and mindfulness. To develop knowledge of personal identity, communication patterns, and culture takes more than a passive experience, in fact, people learn who they are by interacting with others (Moon 42). Self-knowledge is primarily cultivated through communicating and listening to different individuals and not just sitting in comfort zones. Conversely, other knowledge can be efficiently developed by directly and thoughtfully encountering other cultures. These efforts can be achieved through education in learning institutions. Furthermore, ICC can be realized by learning different languages. However, it is worth noting that knowledge of other language does not automatically equate to intercultural Communication Competent. Similarly, cognitive complexity and mindfulness play significant roles in building ICC.
As attentive communicators, there is need to focus on the interactive process. Intercultural communication competence requires one to adapt to his or her communication situations, based on skills that are effective and appropriate at a given moment, and later reflect on the encounters to determine what can be learned from them to be incorporated in his or her communication framework. Cognitive flexibility, the ability to revise and supplement the existing knowledge to generate new ideas, helps in prevention of stereotypes, averting old thoughts, and discourage prejudging other people to a conclusion. Therefore, it is essential for one to understand about ones self as well as others and develop the ability to reflect on and adapt to knowledge and gain new experience.
Attitude refers to the way individuals perceive information about others and the comfort level in uncertain situations. People usually have different responses depending on whether they are communicating with persons of mixed race, gender, or nationality. Conditions of uncertainty become apparent most often as they progress. However, an individual with low tolerance perhaps is incompetent in communication. Positive attitudes towards ICC exhibit patience in seeking information, which increases situational understanding leading to successful outcomes. High tolerance of uncertainty is steered by intrinsic motivation towards intercultural communication competence, and the curiosity promotes engagement of individuals, who may be different because the self and other knowledge gained is found rewarding.
Cultivating intercultural communication competence
Experimental learning and reflective practices are the primary ways through which intercultural communication competence can be built. Being competent implies the ability to assess situations at hand, make judgments and apply the knowledge gained to new contexts. Conceptualization of competence varies depending on the individuals roles (professional or personal) and their stages of life. Sometimes people can figure out what they are expected of them in particular situations; however, they perhaps act unexpectedly to satisfy the requirements of the circumstance (Moon 50). Competence promotes the ability to significantly cope up with the unexpected, connect to different frameworks of communication, and adapting to the non-routine.
Intercultural communication competence can be cultivated through fostering attitudes that prompt motivation, discover informational knowledge, and develop the required skills to realize the expected outcomes. Moreover, there is need of developing a sense of wonder about the culture which can lead to feeling overwhelmed, humbled or owed. This feeling may correlate to a high tolerance for uncertainty and can help in turning potentially frustrating experiences into existence into teachable moments. Another step that can boost motivation among communicators is discovering knowledge that informs. Furthermore, cultivation of ICC involves an understanding of personal cognitive styles and how people learn. Consequently, individuals can gather information, organize and construct meaning, and apply the knowledge gained to ensure that the desired outcomes of communication are achieved.
As cognitive styles are explored, the difference in how to perceive and respond to information can be discovered improving the way events are explained, organizing the world and use of logging rules. Some cultures put more focus on tasks, objective and analytic thinking, precision and detail, independence and inner direction while others emphasize on people and relationships, metaphorical and concrete thought, and a group harmony and consciousness. Seemingly, development of intercultural communication competence in individuals is a complicated learning process. Knowledge is accumulated and assimilated into the existing communication frameworks at the basic education levels. At higher levels, people transformative learning takes place where situations that challenge the individuals accumulated knowledge and their capability to accommodate it is tested (Fantini 469). Also, developing skills essential in effective communication is another part of Intercultural Communication Competence. These skills encompass the ability to listening, accumulating, analyzing and processing information, solving conflicts, and managing anxiety.
In addition, reflective practices help in addressing the challenges which are associated with intercultural communication competence. As people are exposed to new experiences, they perhaps have both negative and positive reasons however it essential to note their defensive reactions. As a result, the triggers which likely create barriers to efficient and effective intercultural communication and interactions can be identified. Intersectional reflexibility is a more complicated reflection method through which intersecting identities, both disadvantaged and privileged, are acknowledged, and communicators can implicate themselves in social inequalities and hierarchies.
To become an active intercultural communicator, it is vital to recognize the significance of individual skills and the constraints of various contexts. There are several ways through which ICC knowledge can be applied in the contemporary world. First and foremost, people ought to engage in a dialogue which helps in building a foundation for curiosity, openness, and empathy. Also, an interpersonal ally can be created to develop essential intergroup relations among individuals with different cultures. The goal is trying to find a way of achieving an equitable unity despite people having contradictory truths (Fantini 472). Moreover, social justice and transformation should be promoted by first acknowledging that inequalities and oppression exist and device ways of curbing the issues.
In conclusion, intercultural communication competence involves several behaviors, skills and attitudes which promotes and facilitates efficient and appropriate conversation across various cultures in a global world. ICC is necessary as it establishes significant connections among people from diversified social, ethnic, and racial origins. Also, it is essential for induction and development of required skills in listening, accumulating information, solving conflicts, and managing anxiety. The primary components of intercultural communication competence are motivation, knowledge, attitudes, behavior and skills. ICC is inherently cultivated through practical learning and reflective practice. Apparently, the development of pragmatic intercultural communication competence fosters significant skills which prompt motivation among communicators promoting the efficiency of the process.
Fantini, Alvino E. “Assessing intercultural competence.” The sage handbook of intercultural competence (2009): 456-476.
Jandt, Fred E. An introduction to intercultural communication: Identities in a global community. Sage Publications, (2012): 3-14.
Moon, Dreama G. “Critical reflections on culture and critical intercultural communication.” The handbook of critical intercultural communication (2010): 34-52.