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Suppose that youre planning to visit a part of the world about which you know very little-except that it is quite different from your own country. You are sophisticated enough to expect that the spoken language and probably some gestures will be different. You know, too that customs will be different, but you are not sure exactly what this will mean. At least there will be interesting thing to take pictures of or write home about. The climate and food will be different of course, but these differences are attractions and are not really problems. Such is the would-be tourists view of foreign culture. ......From the moment you arrive, your [cultural and personal] background. . . will influence everything you expect [and] a great deal of what you do and do not do. . . . Most of the people you meet will be similarly influenced by their own backgrounds, culturally, socially, and personally. If some of the people you meet think you act a little strangely, they may never know whether you are peculiar, or whether most people from your country are strange, or whether all foreigners are strange. . . Most of what you do [in a foreign country] will be what comes naturally-which means what you have always done or seen others do back home. Most of our behavior is outside of our awareness so that normal behavior means behavior according to norms of our culture and not what is done everywhere or done naturally. Still, to the extend that you are aware possibilities of different behavior in the land you are visiting, you may be unusually self-conscious of some or this normal behavior.


A. Communication and culture Intercultural communication is communication between members of different cultures. This definition is simple, but the process is complex. Intercultural communication involves differing perceptions, attitudes, and interpretations. We know that even two people from the same culture can have communication problems. People can intentionally hurt each other by something they say or do. Isnt it logical, then that communication problems can be compounded amoung people who do not have benefit of shared experiences (i.e., language and culture)? Cultures do not communicate; individuals do. Everyone has a unique style of communication, but cultures determine a general style for their members. The relationship of the individual to his culture is analogous to an actor and his director. The actor puts his own personality into his acting but is nevertheless influenced by the director. We are not always aware of the subtle influences of our culture. Likewise, we may not perceive that others are influenced by their cultures as well. B. Misinterpretation Problem and misinterpretations do not result every time members from two cultures communicate. However, when cultural conflicts do arise, they may be perceived as personal rather than cultural. In the following example it is a cultural misunderstanding that creates negative feelings and confusions: A young woman from one culture is looking out of the window and sees a male acquaintance from another culture. He signals to her by puckering his lips. She quickly looks away from the window. Later she ignores him. He is confused and she is angry. The misunderstanding was due to the womans failure to understanding the mans nonverbal signal. In her culture, his gesture conveys a sexual advance. According to his culture, he was only saying (nonverbally Oh, there you are. Ive been looking for you. The womans misinterpretation resulted in her angry reaction and his confusion. If the two had known more about each others nonverbal cues, they could have avoided the cultural conflict. Some misunderstandings are insignificant and can be easily ignored or recomended. Other conflicts are more serious in that they can cause misinterpretations and create persistent negative toward foreigners.

The following are the examples of non-verbal gestures which have the same and different meaning in the United States and Indonesia (Pease:1990, and Adelman:1993) a) When we are happy, we usually smile. In other words, smiling is typically an expression of pleasure. It can also show affection, convey politeness or even disguise true feelings. But, it depends on the situations and relationships. A womans smile at a police officer does not carry the same meaning when she smiles to a young child. In Asian cultures including Indonesia, smiling is also used to cover emotional pain or embarrassment. When the students are late to come to the class or they cant answer the questions from the teacher, they are possible to smile to cover their embarrassment. b) When we are sad or angry, we can frown, scowl, or even cry. In Arab and Iranian cultures, people express grief openly. They mourn out loud, while people from China, Japan, and Indonesia are more subdued. c) When we indicate no or negation, we usually shake our head from side to side. Shaking head from side to side is also used to show disagreement or have negative attitude. If we have a friend who is arrested by the police officer for the third time because of his crime, we may shake our head from side to side to show the disagreement or negative attitude towards his crime. d) When we do not know or understand what people are talking about, we usually shrug our shoulders. e) The Ring or OK gesture has different meaning in different countries. In the USA and in English speaking countries, the ring or OK gesture means Everything is OK. In France it can also mean zero or nothing. In Japan it can mean money, in some Mediterranean countries, it is used to infer that a man is homosexual. In Indonesia, the ring gesture means zero. f) The thumb-up gesture has three meanings in Britain, Australia, and New Zealand. It is commonly used by hitch-hikers who are thumbing a lift, it is an OK signal, it is probably an insult signal meaning up yours or sit on this when the thumb is jerked sharply upwards. In Greece, its main meaning is get stuffed. In Italy, when people count from one to five, they use the thumb to mean one and the index finger becomes two. In Australia, America, England and Indonesia, people count one on the index finger and two on the middle finger, hence, the thumb will be number five. In Indonesia, the thumb gesture means good job or response to someone who has completed an excellent job. It also means delicious when we taste delicious food. In Indonesia, if we want to stop the public transportation to take us to a certain place, we use the index finger to stop it, not the thumb. g) The V sign has an up yours interpretation in Australia, New Zealand, and Great Britain. The palm faces towards the speaker for the insult version. In USA, the V sign means victory but the two fingers and the palm face out. In Indonesia, whether the palm faces towards the speaker or the palm faces out, the V sign means number two.

h) Scratching the head can mean a number of things-dandruff, fleas, sweating, uncertainty, forgetfulness or lying. It depends on the other gestures or the situations that happen at the same time. If the student scratches his head when he answers the question given by the teacher, scratching the head can mean that he forgets or he is not sure about the answer. i) Someone is sitting at a bus terminal with arms and legs tightly crossed and chin down and it is raining, it may mean that he feels cold, not defensive. If the person uses the same gesture while we are sitting across a table from him trying to sell him an idea or product, it can mean that he is negative or defensive about the situation. j) If a boy is introduced to a pretty and charming girl and he winks one of his eyes, it can be interpreted that the boy likes her or the boy is interested in further relationship with her. k) If we feel disappointed, we usually put our fist under our chin. l) If we want to get the attention of a pretty or charming girl who passes in front of us (a group of boys), we can whistle. m) In USA, beckoning people to come with the palm up is common or acceptable, however, in the Philiphines, Korea, and parts of Latin America as well as other countries the same gesture is considered rude. In some countries, only an animal which can be beckoned with the palm up. In Indonesia, when we want to beckon someone we extend one arm in front of us and, with the palm down, wave to the person to come. n) Eye contact is important because it shows intimacy, attention, and influence. In general, Indonesian makes less eye contact with strangers in big cities than in small towns. In Indonesian small town, it usual for two strangers walking each other to make eye contact, smile and perhaps say Hi !, Good Morning or even Where are you going.

C. Ethnocentrism Ethnocentrism is making value judgments about another culture from perspectives of one's own cultural system. The ethnocentric individual will judge other groups relative to his or her own particular ethnic group or culture, especially with concern to language, behavior, customs, and religion. ( From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia). Dificulties in intercultural communication arise when there is little or no awareness of divergent cultural values and beliefs. In cross-cultural interaction, speaker sometimes assume that what they believe is right, because they have grown up thinking their way is the best. This ethnocentric assumption can result in negative judgements about other cultures. Another manifestation of ethnocentric attitude is that people become critical or individuals from different cultures.

In the following example, Rosamine and Merita demonstrate that they can not understand each others point of view. Rosamine and Merita are talking to each other about relationship between children and parent. In Rosamines culture children live with their parent untill marriage because dependece on parents is considered positive. In Meritas culture children leave home when they are eighteen because independence and self-reliance are considered positive. ROSAMINE :I think its terrible that in your country children leave their parents when theyre so young. Something that shock me even more is that many parents want their children leave home. I cant understand why children and parent dont like each other in your country. MERITA : In your country parent dont allow their children to become independent. Parents keep their children protected until that children get married. How are people in your country supposed to learn about life that way? Both women are insensitive to each others values concerning family life. They have been raised and conditioned according to cultural norms. Therefore, each has different view of what is right. D. Stereotypes and Prejudice A stereotype is a popular belief about specific types of individuals. The concepts of "stereotype" and "prejudice" are often confused with many other different meanings. Stereotypes are standardized and simplified conceptions of groups based on some prior assumptions.( From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
Prejudice (or foredeeming) is making a judgment or assumption about someone or something before having enough knowledge to be able to do so with guaranteed accuracy, or "judging a book by its cover". The word prejudice is most often used to refer to preconceived judgments toward people or a person because of race, social class, ethnicity, age, disability, obesity, religion, sexual orientation, or other personal characteristics. It also means beliefs without knowledge of the facts and may include "any unreasonable attitude that is unusually resistant to rational influence. ( From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia).

Sometimes negative reactions do not result from actual interaction but rather from the fixed, preconceived beliefs we have other people. This over generalized beliefs or stereotypes frequently shape peoples perception of each other. Stereotypes originate and develop from numerous sources such as jokes, textbooks, movie, and televison. Movies about cowboys and Indians portray cowboys as civilized and Indians as wild and primitive. A child who knows about the American Indian only through watching these movies will have distorted and false image of this

group of people. Stereotypes perpetuate inaccuracies about religious, racial, and cultural groups. Stereotypical beliefs prevent us from seeing as individuals with unique characteristics. Negatives stereotypes lead to prejudice suspicion, intolerance, or hatred of other cultural groups. The close relationship between prejudice and stereotypes is illustrated in the following example. Mr. Bias... Ambitious applicant. Later , he discovers that this applicant is from the country of levadel ( a rictitious nation). Since he thinks that all levadelians are stupid and lazy, he decides to select someone else for the position. Unfortunately there was nothing that this applicant could have done to prove that he was indeed qualified for the job. Rejected on the basis of his nationality, the applicant was a victim of an irrational belief. Stereotypical remarks can be made casually in daily conversations and may or may not have serious consequences. Nevertheless, peoples initial impulse is to become angry rather than to clarify the distortion. Educating others is one way to try to correct misperceptions. At the same time, individuals need to become fully aware of their own preconceptions. Establishing personal relationship with individuals from different religions, cultures, or races may be the best way to break down stereotypes and prejudice.


A. Conclusion We can make a little conclusion, cultural conflict occur as a result misinterpretations, ethnocentrism, stereotypes, and prejudice. Preventing these conflicts is possible with increased awareness of our own attitudes as well as sensitivity to cross cultural differences. Developing intercultural sensitivity does not mean we need to lost our cultural identities but rather that we recognize cultural influences within ourselves and within others.

B. Suggestion We are aware of this paper is still far from perfection, so from that advice and constructive criticism so we still expect our next order of writing paper to make it better.


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