Diverse Collection of Religious Cultures
In America, we have a very wide and diverse collection of religious cultures, beliefs, and
backgrounds. Intercultural Communication, as cited by Beven (2020) and stated by Kim(2010) is
“…the communication process in which individual participants of differing cultural and
subcultural backgrounds come into direct contact with one another” (p.3.1). In order to be
competent communicators with people with different cultural backgrounds, one must be patient,
understanding and show interest and respect for the other person’s feelings and cultural
There are a few reasons that explain why it is important to be aware of someone else’s
culture when attempting to communicate. One reason is to avoid being ostracized. According to
Beven(2020) to be ostracized is to be“…removed from a group or from society at large if you
violate the formally stated laws of the land or traditions of the areligious group”(p. 3.1). It is
never a good feeling to be avoided or looked at like an outcast. Another reason it is so important
is to clarify communication. When there is not a central understanding of what is being
communicated, interpersonal communication can be misinterpreted in the decoding process.
When this happens, it could take much longer to send a message to the receiver, than it would
with mutual understanding.
Culture has a huge impact on nonverbal communication. In the textbook Making
Connections: Understanding Interpersonal Communication , Beven(2020) mentions several
instances that would be considered nonverbal communication that is influenced by culture. One
instance she discusses is how in the United States it would be considered rude to not shake
someone’s hand in a professional setting, whereas Muslim men and women tend to not engage in
physical contact of the opposite sex. In order to show respect for this cultural difference, one
would have to learn about another culture and find a greeting that did not violate either side’s
Commented [KC1]: Per APA style guidelines, indent the first line of each paragraph 5 to 7 spaces.
Commented [KC2]: Watch spelling (it’s Bevan) and spacing (need a space after the name Kim.
Commented [KC3]: Good point on the practical implications of clarity. If we are clear, interactions can take less time.
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cultural norm and comfort. Beven(2020), cites ( Gibbs, 2017; Jafar, 2017) in stating that an
alternative would be to put your hand over your heart or bowing.
Culture also has a huge impact on verbal communication. One example of verbal
communication that can have a negative impact on interpersonal communication, Beven(2020)
states, as cited by (Kemper, Ferrell, Harden, Finter-Urczyk, & Billington, 1998)“..elderspeak” in
which younger individuals speak slowly to aging adults, repeating themselves and using fewer
words”. This makes the older generation feel dehumanized and patronized as mentioned by
Beven(2020) as cited by Simpson (n.d.).
Being from a High context culture can be a benefit to understanding nonverbal
communication. According to Beven(2020) “A high-context culture, …, emphasizes the implicit
and indirect meaning of messages, and thus communicators rely more on nonverbal elements”(p.
3.3). In this culture, words do not have a solid meaning. It is more important to note context,
gestural communication, facial expressions, paralanguage, and touch as these are all nonverbal
forms of communication. Another defining aspect of a high context culture is their reluctance to
conflict. Beven(2020) gives an example where, in a high context culture, if someone was to ask
another to do something for them and they did not want to they would say something like
“maybe” or “if I can get to it”, rather than saying no and facing the chance of a repercussion.
A Low Context culture has very literal verbal communication traits. According to
Beven(2020) “…low-context culture tends to be clear, direct, and is typically derived from
words”(p. 3.3). This means that people from a low-context culture value words as high meaning.
For example, from the same instance as before, if one was to ask someone if they would do
something and they said “yes” or “maybe” or “if I can get to it”, it would never be understood as
anything but exactly what is said. When the person asked did not do what was asked this could
Commented [KC4]: That’s a great example and resolution! It speaks to the principle of respect and points out how both parties should make an effort to understand each other and respect each other as well.
Commented [KC5]: This student makes a great link to the earlier point about ostracization. It is always good to make these types of links to previous points.
Commented [KC6]: This is another nice point. When these two cultures meet, it can be deadly. So, one should comment on the implications of this as well.
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again cause this person to be ostracized. People from a low- context culture, not understanding
cultural differences, would become angry and feel like they have been lied to.
Some cultures prefer individualism and some collectivism. In the dimensions of culture,
Beven(2020) states “ Individualism/collectivism, Hofstede’s first dimension, considers the extent
to which countries value the individual and personal rights versus the community and the public
good”(p. 3.1). In the U.S. we tend to fall under an Individualism culture. An individualistic
culture has a strong sense of self, and values one’s own goals, choices, rights, and freedoms ,
whereas, a collectivistic culture, values close ties, harmony, and conforming(Beven, 2020). I do
believe that even one growing up in an individualistic culture you would have traits of both.
When describing oneself, one might say they are an American (this is a group, that stands
together, with shared values and beliefs). This should be a collectivistic example. If one said
that they wanted to be number one on the charts for a performing musician, this would be
considered an individualistic goal. However, people tend to group with like-minded people.
Musicians would surround themselves with other musicians, while in that group, this should be
considered a collectivistic goal.
Culture has a huge impact on the way we look at ourselves and others. Culture can
change the way we communicate. Understanding each other’s cultural differences is the only
way to effectively close the gaps in communication for competent interpersonal communication.
Commented [KC7]: Yes. There can be elements of both. Though the way we are so divisive right now in this country politically, I’m struggling to see even one common devotion to “America” that we can agree to. But it is an important point worth making here.
Commented [KC8]: It would have been nice to have seen one more wrap-up of how paying attention can help us improve as communicators. It is implicit to the student’s earlier points but could have been made more overt and precise here. Still, this is a solid paper overall.
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Bevan, J. L. (2020). Making connections: Understanding interpersonal communication
(3rd ed.). https://content.ashford.edu/
Commented [KC9]: Use the term “references,” and center this line.
Commented [KC10]: Per APA style guidelines, students must indent the second line and all remaining lines of all references. If you right click and select “paragraph,” you can go over to indentation and click “special.” Select “hanging” from the options and Word will do this for you automatically.