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Effective communicators understand that they grow up

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Effective communicators understand that they grow up with cultural biases forand against certain modes of communication.Suspending judgments, exercising empathy, and focusing on content rather thanstyle can help overcome cultural barriers to effective communication.Key Termsculture: The arts, customs, lifestyles, background, and habits that characterize aparticular society or nation. The beliefs, values, behavior and material objects thatconstitute a people’s way of life.Keeping an Open Mind to Cultural DifferencesHandshake: Different cultures can have different methods of communication.What defines culture? Culture certainly includes race, nationality, and ethnicity, but itgoes beyond those identity markers as well. When we talk about culture, we arereferring to belief systems, values, and behaviors that support a particular ideology orsocial arrangement. The following are various aspects of our individual identity that weuse to create membership in a shared cultural identity: race, ethnicity, nationality,gender, sexual orientation, and class. Culture guides language use, appropriate formsof dress, and views of the world. The concept is broad and encompasses many areas ofsociety such as the role of the family, the role of the individual, educational systems,employment, and gender.
Different cultures have different modes and patterns of communication that can hindereffective listening if the listener is either unfamiliar with the speaker’s patterns or holds amistaken view about them. These kinds of cultural differences include speakers’ accentsand vocabulary, as well as assumptions about shared information and the roles oflisteners and speakers in conversation.In a broad sense, we all grow up immersed in various cultures all at once—family,country, region, sexual orientation, religion, socioeconomic class, etc.—and sometimesthe specifics of those cultures seem to be hard-wired into our thinking and the ways inwhich we communicate. Without meaning to, we may bring assumptions or judgmentsinto a conversation that don’t actually align with the thoughts or beliefs of ourconversational partner, and this can create a barrier to effective communication.Effective communicators understand that they grow up with cultural biases for andagainst certain modes of communication. Because of this, an open-minded listener willwork hard to focus on what the speaker is actually saying regardless of how they’resaying it. Cultural filters and frameworks may be useful later in an analysis of whatsomeone said, but the starting point of effective listening should be to understand theperspective of the speaker as fully as possible.Maintaining this kind of cultural sensitivity requires some basics of open-mindedlistening: suspending judgment and employing empathy whenever possible. By meetingthe speaker on his or her own grounds and taking care to focus on the content ratherthan the style of the communication, we can best assure more effective understanding.

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