Patterns of Communication vary between cultures, and it is essential when communicating with members of diverse populations to implement cultural and contextual sensitivity. This struck a chord with me because of the diversity we have here in Hawaii. Over 45% of the population is Asian (Pearson Education, Inc., 2000), and one segment of that population is the Japanese, who are quite different in the way they communicate. For example, they use eye contact rarely, and as an American who has been taught that eye contact is important in communication, it can be unnerving. Working with patterns such as this, especially when they are radically different from one's own, can be an impediment to communication, and anyone in the psychological professions must work toward understanding these differences (Sue & Sue, 1977).
One idea I like to keep in
mind was presented by Stewart and Bennett (2006). They found, in most
cases, people have a natural tendency to judge others according to their
personal expectations, which are a direct result of their culture (or
context). What's more is that most people presume the superiority of
their own culture. I have wondered if, perhaps, this presumption is
even more common in Americans. In any event, because these natural
tendencies are ingrained, it seems important to remain aware of them.
Education, Inc. (2000). Demographic Statistics Hawaii. Infoplease.
Retrieved December 11, 2012, from
Stewart, E. C., & Bennett, M. J.
(2006). American cultural patterns: a cross-cultural perspective. Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural Press.
Sue, D. W.,
& Sue, D. (1977). Barriers to effective cross-cultural counseling. Journal
of Counseling Psychology, 24(5), 420-429. doi: