Worldview causes communication to get complex when we add cross-cultural dimension. This is true because a person acts according to the values and norms of her culture, and the person receiving the message interprets it through the grid of his own values and culture.
Here are some insights to consider in communicating cross-culturally:
Recently I was reading a book about cross-cultural competency and when it comes down to communication they use an iceberg analogy that I would try to explain. They suggest that the top of the iceberg is what we see, hear and touch (those external factors that are explicitly learned, conscience, objective knowledge and that can be easily change). Then, the bottom of the iceberg (which is usually 3-4 times the size of the top) is those beliefs, values, thought patterns and myths (those internal factors that are implicitly learned, unconscious, subjective knowledge and that that can be difficult to change).
In that illustration they were trying to point out that all that we can see is external. In communication, this would include someone’s words, tone and body language. But what we perceive is based on our own beliefs, values, and thought patterns, beneath the surface; that is, those things that form our worldview. In cross-cultural communication, it’s often the items that lie below the surface that differ dramatically enough to cause misunderstandings. Without taking the time to explore what’s below the surface in a person’s life, we will find ourselves confused or frustrated at points. Confusion and frustration, if left unchecked, will lead to further misunderstandings and a breakdown of trust. Once this occurs, it’s very hard to rebuild it.
Questions to reflect: