CQ Elements of Intercultural Communication

I have decided on telling you about a very important person in my life, who happens to come from totally different culture than my own. He is of an Asian descent, from the country of Laos. He comes from a family of refugee immigrants, who came to the United States in seek of a safe haven and a way out of the ways of their communist home country. He was only four years old when they made their way across the Pacific, so for the past 43 years of his life he has been living life as an immigrant American. He made the decision to convert over to Christianity from Buddhism at the age of 13, while still living at home with his mother and father. Learning to speak English from the other kids his age in California, his mother was disappointed at the fact that he was loosing sight of his Laotian roots. He eventually moved to the state of Arkansas while he was still in his teens to live with is older sister, where he eventually became a cook at the family restaurant Fried Rice. In 2010, we met for the first time through my mother. They were co-workers at the time. Eventually, we ended up loosing contact, but found ourselves crossing paths once again in 2019. We ended up falling in love and are now planning on getting married sometime in the near future. We decided to move in together not too long after we made things official, giving me a whole new perspective of his Asian culture. Even though he no longer practices Buddhism, there are times I still recognize some of the traditional practices of those like his mother still lives her life by. He has taught me a few key elements of what his culture considers respectful/disrespectful. One thing has stuck with me, and that is never let yourself be seated in a higher seat or position than the elder in the room. He is a converted Christian, who firmly believes in our good Lord and our savior Jesus Christ, and is always open to learn anything new about the story of the Good News. Cultural Systems Out of the six cultural systems found within CQ, the three that I found that closely related to my Laos friend were the Marriage and Family, Religion, and Artistic systems (Livermore, 2015). Since he has been living life as an American, for the biggest majority of his life, very few characteristics of his cultural background are openly present, making it difficult at moments to say the least, while researching for this assignment. Marriage and Family Nearly everyone in my life that I have ever came across in life has came fro the same kind of family system that me and you come from, and my friend is no different. The family system of question is the nuclear family system. He grew up as the youngest of seven sisters, one brother, and both parents. His mother and father decided to move to the United States in hopes of obtaining the unspeakable freedom and to give him and his siblings the opportunity of living the American Dream. In a nuclear family, there is an unspeakable closeness, a bond, between each person of the immediate family (Livermore, 2015). Educational Systems Education is a big deal in a person’s life, especially if they want to make something of their selves one day. In his culture, a big portion of their educational training relies on informal teachings. There is a lot to learn about topics like heritage, ancestral roots, and most importantly moral ethics; all things that is not typically taught in school. It’s the older, adult members in the family that set the bar for the rest of the family for the younger, less experienced members to learn from and follow (Livermore, 2015). Artistic Systems We all love a clean and organized home, right? Well, that is definite yes for the culture my special friend is from. He is most definitely more on the solid side of the artistic scale. He loves for the each and everything to be put up in their own individual spots. His family, those whom I have gotten the pleasure of meeting, are all the same way. A clean home is a happy home, and in the Laos culture, that is very true. As a matter of fact, in the Laos culture, it is seen as respect for one to remove their shoes before entering the home of friends or loved ones (Tours in Laos, 2021). Cultural Value Orientations Out of the ten cultural value orientations, the five I chose to discuss today about my Laotian friend, Collectivism, Cooperation, Neutral, High and Low Power Distance, and High Uncertainty Avoidance. Within the Laos Culture, value is a thing they hold near and dear to their hearts. They all strive for freedom with responsibility, harmony, collectivism, tolerance for others, and respect for order and authority (Xiaoge, 1998). Collectivism In over most of the continent of Asia, collectivism is widely practiced as one of the cultural values (Livermore, 2015). The members of a collectivism culture, are taught early on in life to blend with the crowds of the world around them and to never do anything to cause shame onto the family (Livermore, 2015). They want their surrounds and everyone around them to be in perfect harmony placing it as a one of the priorities tops on the list (Laos Belief and Value, 2021). I see this in tremendous amounts in my friend’s family. If one family members makes the tiniest mistake, they are shunned, so to speak. Cooperative Laotians are some of the most cooperative groups of folks you could ever meet. In their culture, you will see that they firmly believe in putting others first (Asian Communication Modes.). Cooperation seems to flow in their blood, that is to a certain extent though. They will give the shirt off their back to someone in need, but do not ever ask them for money. Another thing is they think intimacy, competition, and personal credit as conflicting priorities (Livermore, 2015). They definitely are not fans of P.D.A. (public display of attention), they get extremely embarrassed, and what seems to me like a sense of shame that comes over them. Neutral In the Laos culture, face value is of the utmost importance. They feel that it is important to do all the can, in efforts of building and maintain “face” in order to shape a powerful and influential image (Laos Beliefs and Value, 2021). They are often viewed as being cold or even rude, as they tend to conceal their feelings (Livermore, 2015). Don’t get offended if your encounters with those from the Laotian culture are quite with little small talk, that is because in they’re culture silence is more than welcomed (Livermore, 2015). Power Distance Laotians are known more for being from a high power-distance cultural background. They are very submissive to authority figures, usually the most respective team members in the office (Livermore, 2015). Don’t expect them to make any major decisions either, because they firmly stand in their beliefs of letting their superior be the decision maker in all situations (Laos Beliefs and Value, 2021). Uncertainty Avoidance The Laotian culture are very keen to structure and punctuality in their lives (Livermore, 2015). The are so weary of the unknown, that it takes them an extremely long amounts of time to make up their minds about anything. They carefully calculate every possibility to every possible solution. So, when relying on them to make any type of decisions be ready for the wait. Also, if you happen to be close to anyone in the culture, and they are positively sure they can put trust into your thought process, be ready to be one of their consultants in helping them make up their minds (Tours in Laos, 2021). Elements of Communication Communication is an important aspect in all of our lives, both in the formal and non-formal settings, as well as in the verbal and non-verbal forms. You can learn a lot about anything if you are willing to listen and communicate with one another. There are certain behaviors one should be aware of in communication, they all affect the way we use and interpret our words (Livermore, 2015). Those behaviors you should beware of are; topics, request, apologies, and completes. As with everything else concerning CQ, being aware of these behaviors are crucial in being successful in cross-cultural communication. Verbal Laos individuals are at times viewed as being rude and judgmental, all due to the fact they more vocal in comfortable in familiar settings, around folks they trust (Tours in Laos, 2021). Indirect In most Asian cultures, there is a lot of in-direct communication that goes on within everyday, normal interactions (Livermore, 2015). As a matter of fact, in-direct verbal communication makes up for about 33% of the communication within the culture (Xiaoge, 1998). Non-Verbal Non-verbal communication is used more than most would like to think. In fact, its how most of our communication actually occurs (Livermore, 2015). As with the other topics we have discussed, culture also has it’s way of affecting our non-verbal words. Those would be by behavior, distance, touching, body position, gestures, facial expressions, and eye contact. If slow down and really just pay attention, you will learn so much about the people around you. Distance Culture plays a huge role in how we view the way we perceive appropriate in the terms of distance (Livermore, 2015). In the Laos culture, the acceptable amount of distance is normally just an arm’s length away from one another (Tours in Laos, 2021). I can confirm, for a fact, that Laotians are for sure up-close-and-personal type of people. Touching Just like here at home in the States, Asia is also on the list of the countries’ with the lowest amount of touching within communication, other than the widely accepted handshake (Livermore, 2015). My Laos friend has filled me in with a few pointers when it comes down to communication and touching within his culture. During any conversation with any Laos individual, you should always limit all urges to use touch as communicating. It’s offensive to some. One major thing he taught me, concerning the elderly community and especially the Buddha, is to NEVER and I repeat NEVER touch their heads! It is not only offensive, but a form of disrespect as well.  

References

Asian Communication Modes. communication.iresearchnet.com/intercultural-and-intergroup-communication-modes/ Laos Belief and Value. (2021). https://www.toursinlaws.com/travel-guide/laos-belief-and-value.httml. Livermore, D. A. (2015). Leading with cultural intelligence (Second edition ed.). American Management Association. Mosely, A. (2009). Improving Cross-Cultural Communication Skills: Ask-Seek-Knock. Leadership Advance Online, (XVII) Xiaoge, X. (1998). Asian Values Revised.https://doi.org/10.1080/01296612.1998.1176548

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Psychology student at Liberty University. 2021 was my first year. I hope to become a recovery/addiction counselor in the near future.

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