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Intercultural Competence and Different Cultural Backgrounds Research HW

Intercultural Competence and Different Cultural Backgrounds Research HW

Intercultural Competence and Different Cultural Backgrounds Research HW



Directions for task:

Part 1:

Intercultural competence – what does it mean?

Intercultural competence enables you to interact both effectively and in a way that is acceptable to others when you are working in a group whose members have different cultural backgrounds. The group may consist of two or more people including yourself. ‘Cultural’ may denote all manner of features, including the values and beliefs you have grown up with, your national, regional and local customs and, in particular, attitudes and practices that affect the way you work.

Three strands of cultural competences include:

• Openness

• Knowledge

• Adaptability

Openness includes respect for otherness and tolerance of ambiguity. > To be open means to be open to the other and to situations in which something is done differently. You can tolerate your partner as being different and doing things differently.

Knowledge includes knowledge discovery as well as empathy. > You not only want to know the ‘hard facts’ about a situation or about a certain culture, but you also want to know, or you know something about, the feelings of the other person. You also know how your interlocutor feels.

Adaptability includes behavioral flexibility and communicative awareness. > You are able to adapt your behavior AND your style of communication

Intercultural competence – what does it consist of?

It has been observed how people in groups of mixed cultural background recognise and deal with the differences that emerge as the group works together. From such observations, it has been possible to identify a number of ‘elements’ of competence that people bring to bear on the situation. These elements are not definitive. Intercultural competence can include other ‘elements’ of competence, but the INCA project ‘elements’ provide a snapshot, useful as an assessment tool, to provide a baseline to inform training programmes. If you are interculturally competent, you may demonstrate the following characteristics:

1. ‘Tolerance of ambiguity’ Tolerance of ambiguity is understood as the ability to accept lack of clarity and ambiguity and to be able to deal with it constructively. In other words, you find the unexpected and unfamiliar an enjoyable challenge and want to help resolve possible problems in ways that appeal to as many other group members as possible.

2. ‘Behavioural flexibility’ Behavioural flexibility is the ability to adapt one’s own behaviour to different requirements and situations. In other words, you adapt the way you work with others to avoid unnecessary conflicts of procedure and expectation. You will tend to adopt other people’s customs and courtesies where this is likely to be appreciated, accept less familiar working procedures where this will raise the level of goodwill, and so on.

3. ‘Communicative awareness’ The ability in intercultural communication to establish relationships between linguistic expressions and cultural contents, to identify, and consciously work with, various communicative conventions of foreign partners, and to modify correspondingly one’s own linguistic forms of expression. In other words, you are alert to the many ways in which misunderstanding might arise through differences in speech, gestures and body language. You may, where this helps, be prepared to adopt less familiar conventions. To be effective, you will always be ready to seek clarification and may need, on occasion, to ask other members of the group to agree on how they will use certain expressions or specialised terms.

4. ‘Knowledge discovery’ The ability to acquire new knowledge of a culture and cultural practices and the ability to act using that knowledge, those attitudes and those skills under the constraints of real-time communication and interaction. In other words, you are willing both to research in advance and to learn from intercultural encounters. You will take the trouble to find out about the likely values, customs and practices of those you are going to work with, and will note carefully, as you interact with them, any additional points that might influence the way you choose to work with them.

5. ‘Respect for otherness’ Curiosity and openness, readiness to suspend disbelief about other cultures and belief about one’s own. In other words, you are ready to regard other people’s values, customs and practices as worthwhile in their own right and not merely as different from the norm. While you may not share these values, customs and practices, you feel strongly that others are entitled to them and should not lose respect on account of them. You may sometimes need to adopt a firm but diplomatic stance over points of principle on which you disagree.

6. ‘Empathy’ The ability to intuitively understand what other people think and how they feel in concrete situations. Empathic persons are able to deal appropriately with the feelings, wishes and ways of thinking of other persons. In other words, you are able to get inside other people’s thoughts and feelings and see and feel a situation through their eyes. While this competence often draws on knowledge of how you would expect others to feel, it goes beyond awareness of facts. It often shows itself in a concern not to hurt others’ feelings or infringe their system of values.

Each intercultural competence framework has three levels. These levels are related to your INCA survey results.

Level 1 – Basic Competence

You are already willing to interact successfully with people of other cultures. You tend to pick things up and learn from them as you go along, but you haven’t yet got the experience to work out any system of dealing with intercultural situations in general. You respond to events, rather than planning for them. At this stage you are reasonably tolerant of other values, customs and practices although you may find them odd or surprising and approve or disapprove.

Level 2 – Intermediate Competence

As a result of experience and/or training, you are beginning to view more coherently some of the aspects of intercultural encounters you used to deal with in a ‘one-off’ way. You have a mental ‘map’ or ‘checklists’ of the sort of situations you are likely to need to deal with and are developing your skills to cope with them. This means that you are more prepared for the need to respond and adapt to the demands of unfamiliar situations. You are quicker to see patterns in the various experiences you have and you are beginning to draw conclusions without having to seek advice. You find it easier to respond in a neutral way to difference, rather than approving or disapproving.

Level 3 – Full Competence

Many of the competences you developed consciously at level 2 have become intuitive. You are constantly ready for situations and encounters in which you will exercise your knowledge, judgement and skills and have a large repertoire of strategies for dealing with differences in values, customs and practices among members of the intercultural group. You not only accept that people can see things from widely varying perspectives and are entitled to do so, but you are also able to put yourself in their place and avoid behaviour you sense would be hurtful or offensive. At this level of operation you are able to intercede when difficulties arise and tactfully support other members of the group in understanding each other. You are confident enough of your position to take a polite stand over issues, despite your respect for the viewpoint of others.

Please write a one-page reflection summarizing the results of the attached INCA Survey Student Version with the INCA Survey table of results at the bottom of the page. You are encouraged to include additional resources to support your reflection.

Answer the following questions in your reflection:

1. Describe the results for each of the 6 Intercultural competencies.

2. What does the data tell you?

3. Do you agree with the results? Why/why not? Explain your answer in detail.

Part 2:

Select 3 of the critical incidents below and analyze them. Your analysis should contain at least three scholarly references each that pertain directly to the incident. Your analysis should be completed as formal written report in APA format. You can take the format of an executive briefing or a training session. The analysis should be complete and supported by literature, not an opinion piece. You are being evaluated on your ability to communicate a statement and support it with facts, or in other words, create an argument.

Critical Incidents

What are critical incidents?

Critical incidents are tools for increasing our awareness and understanding of human attitudes, expectations, behaviors, and interactions. They are intended to engage participants at a meaningful, personal level as they examine attitudes and behaviors that might be critical to their effectiveness in the roles they are already performing or preparing for (in the workplace, in educational settings, and in society at large).

Critical incidents in intercultural communication training are brief descriptions of situations in which a misunderstanding, problem, or conflict arises as a result of the cultural differences of the interacting parties, or a problem of cross-cultural adaptation and communication.

Choose 3 of the following critical incidents for this assignment:

1. A student was not satisfied with her new class. She wanted to move to a higher class. First, she consulted the student advisor who said that she could not move up at this time. The student, still unsatisfied with this answer, asked the other student advisor. The second student advisor gave her the same answer. Next, she made an appointment to see the coordinator of the Language Training Program. The coordinator consulted the student’s teacher and the student’s test scores and explained to the student that, according to the guidelines, she was unable to move to the next level at that time. The student was still not satisfied and made an appointment to see the dean and then intended to talk to the president of the college. Meanwhile, the teacher couldn’t understand why the student did not just accept her decision. She also could not understand why the student could not see that there were policies in place so that no matter how high up she went in the college hierarchy, it would not change the outcome for her. What does this scenario tell us about the student’s assumptions and the teacher’s assumptions?

2. Samantha liked her new job, but she felt that the environment was very cold. Samantha said that no one talks about their family or their personal lives, only about work. She feels it is very difficult to work in such an environment and she wishes her colleagues would share more with her. What kind of culture is Samantha in and how is she responding?

3. One of Tim’s employees is always late. Besides being late, he tends to go on and on when talking and wastes valuable time at work. Sometimes Tim has to cut him off. The employee seems to feel offended and thinks Tim is being rude. Tim believes that they are on a strict schedule and things have to be done by a certain time; as well, things are scheduled to take a certain amount of time.

4. The new manager had a meeting with Sunny where he praised her work and made good comments on her effectiveness and timeliness. When Sunny received her formal evaluation, she was surprised to see that she had scored a 9 out of 10. Sunny was upset with the manager and could not understand why he didn’t tell her the truth. She also was surprised to see that there was no way to compare herself with the other employees, since their evaluations were confidential.

5. Peter went downtown to an office to pick up some documents. When he arrived, he went to the front desk and talked to the receptionist. The receptionist was very helpful and seemed to go out of his way to make sure Peter wouldn’t have any trouble getting what he needed. Peter was very happy with the service and thought about how different it was from the service in his country. About half an hour later, he was just getting ready to leave the office when he realized that he had one more question. The receptionist was not at his desk, but Peter saw him in the hallway so he rushed out to catch him. Instead of helping Peter, the man told him that he was on his break and that Peter would have to wait until he got back. Peter was surprised by the receptionist’s response, it would only have taken a moment of the man’s time.

6. Robert has been sent overseas to a new office. When he arrives at the office, one of his first tasks is to select some local hires for office positions. Robert is looking for people who are bilingual and have office experience, especially is customer service. However, he is told that one of the applicants is the manager’s nephew and should be given special consideration. Robert is offended and does not want to even interview that person. The manager reports back to the parent company that Robert is inflexible and disrespectful. What is going on?

7. Sara is a new employee and has a colleague who frequently comes by her desk and stops to talk. He leans in and shares stories of his life outside of work. Sara feels uncomfortable and is beginning to think that she needs to report him for sexual harassment, especially since she is uncomfortable with the distance between them. Why does Sara feel this way? What might the colleague be thinking?

8. Jay was surprised to come into his new workplace and find a framed picture of himself entitled “Employee of the month”. Jay felt extremely embarrassed and could hardly work that day, especially when clients came into the store and recognized him in the picture. Jay finally ended up going to his manager and asking him to take down the picture. What are the values at Jay’s workplace and how are they conflicting with Jay’s own values?


APA style with double-spacing, Times New Roman, 12 point font, in-text citations when using the chapters attached below, and references page.

****All questions/statements must be answered directly.****

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