Discuss about the Stereotypes on Intercultural Communication.
The spread of globalisation has changed the world of business to a great extent. Globalisation has enabled people and organisations from all corners of the world to interact with each other, form business relations and expand their market reach, which can help them in achieving a competitive edge in the market. The spread of globalisation has also made it difficult for business organisations to survive in the market because of the exponential increase in competition. As a result, business organisations are looking forward to expand their businesses overseas in order to achieve market competencies and ensure a long term survival in the market. Overseas expansion involves interacting with individuals that belong to different cultural backgrounds and have their own morals, ethics, values, language, etc., which governs their behaviour during business interactions (Kreuz & Roberts, 2017). Therefore, understanding the culture of an overseas partner is considered to be crucial for those organisations that are looking forward to expand their business management overseas.
Culture is defined as the set of morals, ethics, values, language, cuisines, etc. that governs the social conduct of an individual or a group of people (Heine, 2015). Cultural stereotyping is referred to the condition when one person forms an opinion about another person on the basis of who that person is, where is the person from, which language does that person speaks, etc., without actually getting to know the person, etc. (Schnurr, et al., 2017). There are a number of cultural stereotypes that exist till date, such as all people with a Jewish background are greedy, Mexican people are lazy and migrate into America illegally, all black people outside of the United States are poor, etc. There are a countless number of stereotypes associated with different cultures in the world, out of which, some are valid while some are completely invalid and have originated as a result of false perceptions of people.
“It is better to rely on stereotypes than to enter into a relationship with someone from another culture without any idea of what they believe in.”
To conclude whether the statement is correct or not, it is important to discuss the merits as well as the demerits of the statement. Let us start by discussing the merits of cultural stereotypes in cross cultural communication management:
First of all, relying upon stereotypes while entering into a relationship with someone from a different culture can be beneficial for a person that has negligible knowledge about the cultural preferences of the other person. There can be certain situations where a person might not have the time to study the culture of another person in depth. In such cases, relying on cultural stereotypes can shape the way for communication to a certain extent. Further, relying upon cultural stereotypes can sometimes be helpful in making quick judgements and fast decisions (Peng, 2010). Secondly, cultural stereotypes can help in identifying people into groups and predicting their reactions and decisions. It can help a person in forming expectations and making communication more predictable and easier to understand. Thirdly, stereotypes in cultural communication is sometimes considered to be an equalizer because people belonging to a particular group definitely have something in common. Stereotypes can thus be used to face issues related to intercultural communication rather than running away from them. Cultural stereotypes can definitely have certain truth attached to them and by addressing these issues, stereotypes can be used to eliminate barriers to communication Fourthly, cultural stereotypes can sometimes be used by individuals to explain social events as stereotypes can help in identifying certain typical characteristics of a cluster.
On the other hand, most of the people believe that cultural stereotypes can cause more harm in cross cultural communication than their potential benefits. Some of the negative aspects of cultural stereotypes are discussed below:
First of all, cultural stereotypes can have a great impact on the organisational behaviour of the employees. In cross-cultural communication or in multinational organisations, it is often observed that certain employees have a tendency to shape their behaviour with other employees on the basis of stereotypes that they have regarding a particular group of people. This can make them bully others if they perceive their culture as recessive or less assertive. According to the socio-technical approach and the situational approach under the administrative theory of organisational behaviour, an organisation is composed of a social system, technical system and an environment and for the success of an organisation, it is crucial that there is a strong relation between all these systems (Bin, n.d.).
Stereotypes can instil a feeling of inferiority or superiority in the system and it can become difficult to establish a strong relation between these systems. Relying upon cultural stereotypes while entering into a relationship with a person belonging to a different culture can prove to be a failure because the judgement about his or her culture can be completely misguided and incorrect. In such cases, there are greater chances that one might end up offending the other person, which makes it difficult to establish a strong and long lasting relation with the person. Further, stereotypes can also result in employees mistreating or abusing those whom they perceive to be inferior to them, based on stereotypes (Lyons & Kashima, 2001). Secondly, according to most of the cultural stereotypes, people belonging to a particular culture have a similar dressing sense, values, beliefs, preferences, social conduct, etc. This belief can act as a barrier in cross cultural communication because people having the same dressing sense can feel differently towards different situations and actions (Lyons & Kashima, 2001). As a result, relying upon stereotypes can decrease the effectiveness of cross cultural communication. Furthermore, a popular notion saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover” stresses on the face that appearance cannot be enough to completely understand who a person really is. Thirdly, cultural stereotypes can sometimes act as the biggest barriers to communication and might prevent two people belonging to different cultures from interacting at all. A person might not want to interact with another person because of his or her assumption about the other person, which is obviously based upon cultural stereotypes that she or he might have read or heard about. Fourthly, cultural stereotypes can sometimes result in prejudice. Cultural stereotypes can sometimes make people protect their self-esteem by making them feel that they are a part of a superior group of people (Bin, n.d.). As a result, such people, in order to satisfy their feeling of superiority, can apply negative stereotypes while communication with others. For example, American managers believe that their Asian colleagues do not possess leadership skills and are not assertive while at work while the Israelis think that businessmen from India are not trustworthy and do not provide the correct information during business dealings. Basing one’s behaviour or social conduct on such negative stereotypes can offend the other person, who might be trustworthy and is sharing all the information in a business deal management.
Coming to the statement, having no knowledge about a person’s culture or belief and still entering into a relationship with that person is a tricky situation because establishing a relation without having knowledge about each other’s cultural values is not possible in the first place. Even if somehow it does become possible, the foundation of relation established between the two parties will not be solid enough to make it a long lasting one as they would definitely end up offending each other because of the lack of understanding. On the other hand, relying upon stereotypes while entering into cross cultural communication can definitely help a person in identifying certain do’s and don’ts, which would ultimately reduce the chances of offending the other person as a result of the lack of cultural knowledge (Ting-Toomey, 2012). Further, the foundation of the relation can be stronger in this case and as the relation becomes stronger, each of the party will have opportunities to learn more about each other and their beliefs, which would further reinforce their relation.
Cultural stereotypes receive different reviews from different people and their reliability in cross cultural communication and establishing business relations is highly debatable. Where some people are of the belief that cultural stereotypes can act as a barrier to cross cultural communication and are trying their best to discover methods that can help in eliminating cultural stereotypes, others believe that cultural stereotypes have been formed over a period of time by closely observing the social conduct of a group of people and can be reliable in cross cultural communication as they help in making quick judgements and decisions (Spencer-Rodgersa & McGovern, n.d.). To conclude, it is actually beneficial to rely on stereotypes rather than entering into a relationship with a person from another culture with no knowledge about his or her beliefs or preferences because stereotypes cannot just help in making a judgement about the other person, but can also help in shaping one’s own behaviour and communication style while interacting with others. Having some knowledge about the culture of another person, even if it is based on cultural stereotypes, can actually help a person in gaining confidence and actually initiating a conversation. On the other hand, entering into a relationship with another person without having any knowledge about his or her beliefs cannot help a person in taking a conversation much far. Therefore, it is definitely better to rely upon certain stereotypes during cross cultural communication rather than entering into a relation with someone without actually having any knowledge about his or her culture and beliefs.
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