Sunday, December 16, 2012

Patterns of Communication

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. 

Pearson 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: 10.1037/0022-0167.24.5.420 

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