Communication across people and cultures

Having reflected on my communication with others from variety of cultures and backgrounds, I certainly do communicate differently. Just as I communicate differently to the people in my work place and in my personal life. In China I find myself communicating a lot through body language, facial expressions or short, simple, verbal sentences to those who have a low level understanding and communication skills in English. Or at times, I speak some Chinese words I know in order to show respect to the Chinese people I interact with. However in my work place, there is a more professional communication tone and jargon used by myself and my fellow colleagues , which many of the Chinese co-teachers or classroom assistants have learnt and understand now. With my family, communication is with love, respect and care, whereas communication with friends is more relaxed, jovial and some slang can be used in conversations.

Upon reading and learning more about effective communication, there are three communication strategies that I was reminded of:

The first is to be mindful of the communication that is taking place around you, how you communicate with others and how they communicate with you. Secondly, to try your best to communicate in a balanced and respectful manner, not only requiring effective communication from others, but making sure you communicate effectively and respectfully to others by understanding and getting to know them, instead of assuming you know who they are, what they want, need or deserve. Lastly, I learnt that one needs to be culturally sensitive, where your personal or cultural perspectives are neither true or right for all situations and people, as others hold different personal or cultural perspectives, which are neither true or correct either for you or others.

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Verbal and Non-verbal communication video

1The video I decided to watch is an old sitcom that I have never come across or even watched before and it is called “Still Standing” I watched Season 1 and the very first episode. Upon watching this episode without sound, I was amazed as to how much one could read about people by looking at their non-verbal communication and this sitcom was about a family that consisted of parents, older son and daughter and younger daughter. The relationships seemed both happy, yet sarcastic, I saw a lot of masking that took place, where it looked like the oldest daughter in the beginning was overly kind to her mother and the mother looked at her with a smile but you could see, she knew her daughter was up to something. The relationship between the parents and the older children, looked like a typical teenage and parent relationship of ups, downs and distance, however the relationship with the younger daughter with her parents, was warm and loving, which the oldest daughter seemed jealous, as at one stage she towered over her little sister and pointed her finger.

When I watched the video with sound I did not assume too many things incorrectly, however I did assume incorrectly a part of the video, when they had visitors over, I thought they were friends, however it was the mothers sister who brought over her new boyfriend. I could see the relationship between the husband and the sister in law was strained and there was a lot of bantering back and forth between them. I did assume correctly that the relationship between the father and older son was strained and that the son was a bit of a ‘nerd’ and the father battled to identify with him, as the father seemed rough around the edges ‘a man’s man’.

To conclude I certainly thought this was an interesting experiment. If it was a sitcom that I watched often, I would obviously know the characters a bit more and assumed a lot more correctly if the sound was off. I was reminded that you can certainly tell a lot by looking at people’s body language and facial expressions, yet I also became empathetic, as I knew I was not assuming everything correctly and wondered how a person who has no hearing must feel. As perhaps they too assume things incorrectly and wondered how they must feel when they realise their assumptions are incorrect and may hurt someone in the process. I would not say I had an ‘aha’ moment as currently living in a country that does not speak English, I believe I have become better at watching non-verbal communication, as many of the children I teach are Chinese and I have had to learn to gauge their interactions relatively well without understanding them verbally.

Competent Communicator

1The person I have chosen that I think is a competent communicator in his profession would be my father. My father is a Technical Sales and Marketing Manager. He is a competent communicator because;

  • He has what they call ‘the gift of the gab’ his ability to make conversations with customers about a variety of topics and issues in the world is astounding and more often than not he gets business not by talking about work but about sports.
  • His knowledge of the industry he works in is amazing.
  • He took to heart what his father taught him, that there is an art to conversation and to form relationships and listen to his customers.
  • He is warm, calm, clear, sincere, respectful and has a sense of humour that customers after a long day of work appreciate.
  • He also cares for his customers and deals with complaints immediately.

I believe I do model and take after my fathers’s communication skills, as from a little girl he taught me how to communicate with others on a personal level and a business level, as I consider parents in my classroom as my “customers” because many schools are businesses and if their children are happy they will be happy too. I am calm, sincere, I consider myself to have an open and warm relationship with my children and parents and often told they appreciate that.

I continue to learn from my father and strive to be an effective communicator.

Professional hopes and goals

My hope is that I continue to be mindful and culturally-sensitive of what I think, say and do when working with children and families, as I believe that you can make or break children and families in an instant, especially when you knowingly or even unknowingly disrespect their family culture and their broader culture as a whole.

The goal I would like to set for early childhood educators around the issues of diversity, equity and social justice are to continue to work towards equity, fairness and justice and continually push against inequality and push for positive change.

To my fellow colleagues who have been with me in this module the last eight weeks, we made it, more dendrites in our brain grew, as our knowledge, empathy, understanding around the issues of diversity, equity and social justice grew. Keep on bringing about change in your personal and professional life in order for us to encourage the growth of a better and brighter society.

Most importantly I leave you with this, as I believe in this module were were given the:

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SO

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BECAUSE

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