How do appropriateness and effectiveness relate to intercultural communication competence?

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The problem with the idea of appropriateness in the context of intercultural communication is that if we are not familiar with the culture of the person to whom we are speaking, we may not know what is or is not appropriate. In fact, it is possible to be rude or...

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The problem with the idea of appropriateness in the context of intercultural communication is that if we are not familiar with the culture of the person to whom we are speaking, we may not know what is or is not appropriate. In fact, it is possible to be rude or insensitive in ways you could not possibly have predicted as an outsider to that cultural group. In certain cultures, for example, it is seen as extremely rude to offer a firm handshake, while in the USA and other western countries, it is considered a sign of weakness to offer a handshake that is not firm.

When it comes to effectiveness, it is important to understand that it is only by being open-minded, friendly and culturally aware that we can improve our intercultural communication skills. By learning as much as we can about the cultures of other groups in our communities, we can be more appropriate and effective as communicators.

In order to be effective intercultural communicators, it is important to understand that culture can have a profound impact on the way in which people speak and not just the words that they use. For example, in certain African cultures it is considered extremely impolite to speak softly, as it implies that you are gossiping. Some cultures place great value in words like “please” and “thank you,” while other cultures place greater value in directness and succinct speech. In a nutshell, knowledge is the key to effective intercultural communication.

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