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An introduction to intercultural competence in the workplace
An introduction to intercultural competence in the workplace

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5 Communication is a process

As you’ll be analysing communication strategies throughout the course, it is worth taking a closer look at some of the proposed properties of communication outlined previously. The next activities will unpack properties that are quite complex and ambiguous. Most of the activities will be based on interactions that you’ll be very familiar with, as you are faced with them on a daily basis. The aim is of these little exercises is for you to become more consciously aware of the aspects of communication that you can influence to minimise misunderstandings.

Consider the following two assumptions:

  • a.An interaction has a beginning and an end. Communication as a process does not.

A conversation might start when people greet each other, but it relies on a foundation that is built over time, based on previous interactions with that individual. Interlocutors refer back to topics they have spoken about before or continue previous discussions. When you meet somebody for the first time, communication might have started prior to this point. You might have heard about them from others, or the context in which you meet them might tell you something about them before an interaction starts.

  • b.Communication is irreversible.

Remembering what other speakers have said in the past also bears a risk, as we cannot take back what has been said. We can apologise for it, but it might have a lasting negative impact on the relationship that we are trying to build.

Activity 6

Timing: 10 minutes

These two assumptions highlight how people build relationships with others. Take a few minutes to reflect on a professional relationship that you have: Has there been an interaction in the past that has shaped how you communicate going forward? Have certain statements (written or verbal) made a lasting impression and changed the way in which you communicate?

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