Which Of The Following Is True About The Relationship Between Culture And Listening

Understanding Listening

Hearing is a process in which we actively try to make sense of what we are hearing, judge it, and respond to it.

Learning Objectives

Define active listening and identify the five steps of the listening process to demonstrate your understanding.

Key Takeaways

  • The listening process is divided into five stages: receiving, comprehending, assessing, remembering, and reacting
  • Receiving is the first stage. Listening actively is a type of communication method in which the listener is tasked with providing feedback to the speaker on what he or she has heard. Repetition, paraphrasing, and pondering are the three primary degrees of active listening to which one might go.

Key Terms

  • Making sense of, assessing, and responding to what we hear is an active activity that requires attention and concentration. An active listening approach is a type of communication strategy in which the listener is required to offer feedback to the speaker on what he or she has heard

Listening Is More than Just Hearing

Maygrove Peace Park’s “Untitled” sculpture by Antony Gormley teaches us to pay attention. When it comes to all facets of our lives–from maintaining our personal connections to getting our jobs done, to taking notes in class, to figuring out which bus to take to the airport–listening is a talent that cannot be underestimated. Irrespective of how we are involved in listening, it is critical to recognize that listening entails more than simply hearing the words that are aimed at us. Hearing is a process in which we actively try to make sense of what we are hearing, judge it, and respond to it.

Receiving is the first stage.

A good listener must, in general, be able to hear and identify the speech sounds directed toward them, comprehend the message conveyed by those sounds, critically evaluate or assess that message, remember what has been said, and respond (either verbally or nonverbally) to the information they have received.

Active Listening

Active listening is a communication method that demands the listener to offer feedback to the speaker on what he or she has heard by restating or paraphrasing what they have heard in their own words, as opposed to passive listening. The purpose of this repeat is to reinforce what has been heard by the listener as well as to ensure that all parties have understood what has been spoken. The capacity to actively listen indicates sincerity, as well as the fact that nothing is being inferred or presumed to be true.

When communicating with a specific speaker, a listener can employ a variety of levels of active listening, each of which results in a different level of communication quality with the speaker in question.

It also includes a section on active listening techniques.

Active listening can also entail paying close attention to the actions and body language of the person speaking.

Listening and Critical Thinking

A person’s capacity to listen properly and digest the information that they hear is vital, and critical thinking abilities are closely related to this ability.

Learning Objectives

Make a visual representation of the link between critical thinking and active listening

Key Takeaways

  • Critical thinking is the process through which people evaluate the information they gather on a qualitative and quantitative level. Critical thinking skills include the abilities to observe, interpret, analyze, infer, evaluate, explain, and engage in metacognition, among others. In each situation or scenario, the concepts and principles of critical thinking may be used, and this includes the act of listening. People who listen well can gather information in a way that encourages critical thinking and effective communication.

Key Terms

  • Critical thinking is defined as the process through which people evaluate the knowledge they have gathered on a qualitative and quantitative level. It is also known as “knowing about knowing,” or “cognition about cognition,” or “knowing about knowing.” Knowing when and how to apply certain techniques for learning or problem solving can be expressed in a variety of ways, including knowledge of when and how to utilize specific tactics for learning or issue solving.

Critical Thinking

It is the process through which individuals evaluate the information they have gathered, both subjectively and statistically; it is also known as critical reasoning. It is also known as “knowing about knowing,” or “cognition about knowing.” Knowing when and how to employ certain techniques for learning or issue solving may be expressed in a variety of ways, for example, knowledge of when and how to utilize specific tactics for problem solving.

Connection of Critical Thinking to Listening

Whenever people come to a decision about what to believe or how to act, they are engaging in critical thinking in a rational and thoughtful manner. The concepts and principles of critical thinking may be applied to any context or issue, but only after carefully considering the nature of the context or case in which they are being applied. Critical thinking may be defined as “a means of approaching the challenges of life” in the broadest sense. The following are some examples of critical and uncritical thinking activities: reading and writing; speaking and listening; all of which may be done critically or uncritically depending on whether or not the essential critical thinking abilities are used to the activity.

A critical thinker is someone who is competent to do the following tasks:

  • • Recognize difficulties and devise viable solutions for those challenges. • Recognize the significance of prioritizing in the hierarchy of problem-solving tasks
  • Obtain the necessary information
  • Recognize what is not expressed or said by reading between the lines
  • Make use of terminology that is clear, efficient, and effective. Data must be interpreted, and conclusions drawn as a result of the data. Determine whether or if there are any logical linkages missing
  • Make sound judgments and/or generalizations based on the information you have received. Conclusions and generalizations should be tested. Develop a new understanding of one’s patterns of beliefs on the basis of new information. To make correct assessments about specific items and attributes that one encounters in everyday life

As a result, critical thinkers must engage in very active listening in order to improve their critical thinking abilities further. It is possible for people to employ critical thinking abilities to comprehend, analyze, and evaluate what they hear in order to generate acceptable reactions or answers. The ability to organize information that they hear, grasp its context or significance, detect implicit assumptions, develop logical connections between ideas, assess the truth values, and draw conclusions are all examples of these talents.

Causes of Poor Listening

Low attention, striving too hard, leaping ahead, and/or concentrating on style rather than substance have all been shown to have a poor impact on listening.

Learning Objectives

Give some examples of the four most significant obstacles to good listening.

Key Takeaways

  • Low attention can be caused by a variety of psychological or physical factors, including visual or auditory distractions, physical discomfort, insufficient volume, a lack of interest in the subject matter, stress, or personal prejudice. Due to the fact that listeners assign equal importance to everything they hear, it becomes more challenging to organize and remember the information they require. When an audience is straining to hear what is being said, they are more likely to miss out on the most critical information that they require. It is possible to detract from the listening experience by skipping forward
  • When listening to a speaker’s message, the audience may ignore important portions of the dialogue or make snap judgements before all of the material has been provided. It is the propensity to select out portions of a discourse that reflect one’s own preconceived opinions and ideals, which is known as confirmation bias. Rather than benefiting from it, a flashy speech can actually be harmful to the overall effectiveness and comprehension of the message since a speech that is primarily concerned with style gives nothing in the way of content. Recognizing and anticipating difficulties may be quite beneficial in conquering them.

Key Terms

  • Confirmation bias is the propensity to select out portions of a discourse that reflect one’s own preconceived opinions and values
  • It is defined as follows: The phenomenon of how vivid or extremely graphic and dramatic events impact an individual’s perception of a situation is referred to as the vividness effect.

Causes of Poor Listening

Poor Listening Can Be Caused by a Variety of Obstacles: There are several obstacles that can prevent good listening. A barrier that prevents information from flowing freely may have an impact on the process of “hearing.” Distractions, an inability to prioritize information, a tendency to presume or judgment based on little or no knowledge (i.e., “jumping to conclusions”), and a general lack of understanding of the issue under discussion are all examples of roadblocks. It is possible that listening obstacles are psychological in nature (e.g., the listener’s emotions) or physical in nature (e.g., noise and visual distraction).

The most prevalent challenges to good hearing, on the other hand, are a lack of attention, a lack of prioritizing, poor judgment, and a preference for presentation over substance.

Low Concentration

Some of the reasons for poor listening are as follows: There are a variety of obstacles that might prevent you from hearing well. The act of “hearing” may be compromised by obstacles that prevent information from flowing freely. Distractions, an inability to prioritize information, a tendency to assume or evaluate based on little or no knowledge (i.e., “jumping to conclusions”), and a general lack of understanding of the issue under discussion are all examples of roadblocks to learning. Listening obstacles can be either psychological (e.g., the listener’s emotions) or physical in nature, depending on the situation (e.g., noise and visual distraction).

Lack of Prioritization

In the same way that paying insufficient attention to details in a discussion can result in inefficient listening, concentrating too much attention on the least significant information can result in unproductive listening. Listeners must be able to recognize social cues and prioritize the information they receive in order to determine the most relevant elements within the context of the discussion. Frequently, the information that the audience needs to know is presented in conjunction with less relevant or irrelevant information.

For example, students who take notes in class must be aware of which material to write down in the context of the full lecture before they may do so.

Poor Judgement

In the course of listening to a speaker’s message, it is normal for people to ignore some portions of the discussion or to make snap judgements before all of the material has been delivered fully. Participants in a discussion frequently participate in confirmation bias, which is defined as the propensity to isolate portions of a discourse that reinforce one’s own underlying ideas and values For a variety of reasons, this psychological process has a negative impact on one’s ability to listen. First and foremost, confirmation bias tends to induce listeners to engage the conversation before the speaker has finished her message and, as a result, create views without first acquiring all relevant information and evidence.

During a speech, for example, a listener may hear something that causes them to feel a certain emotion at the beginning of the speech.

Focusing on Style, Not Substance

The vividness effect is a psychological phenomenon that describes how vivid or graphically detailed an individual’s perception of a scenario is. When seeing an event in person, the observer’s attention is instinctively pulled to the portions of the discussion or speech that are exciting, vivid, or memorable to them. For those who are actively listening, distracting or larger-than-life components in an oral presentation might draw the listener’s attention away from the most crucial information included within the discussion or presentation.

Suppose a Shakespearean professor gave a whole lecture in an exaggerated Elizabethan accent.

Interference with the listening process can be caused by cultural differences (including variances in speakers’ accents and vocabulary, as well as misconceptions caused by cultural preconceptions).

The physical appearance of the speaker is subject to the same prejudices. Listeners should be conscious of their own prejudices and concentrate on the content rather than the delivery style, as well as the speaker’s voice and appearance, in order to avoid being obstructed by them.

Multiple Choice Quiz

  • However, humans are capable of comprehending speech at speeds of up to words per minute, which is faster than the average rate of 100 to 140 words per minute.
  1. A. attending.b. understanding.c. responding.d. activating
  • As mentioned in your text, which of the following is an incorrect assumption?
  1. A. “This is something I’ve heard before.” b. “This is much too difficult to comprehend.” c. “This is far too simple.” The majority of these assumptions are incorrect
  2. D.
  • Which of the following is the most accurate paraphrasing of “I’m stuck in a rut
  • I’m dissatisfied with my job and with my current relationship. Everything appears to be the same from day to day after day after day “in addition to this, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at [email protected]
  1. A. “Why don’t you spice things up a little by doing something different?” A. b. “It seems like you’re not experiencing much excitement and have become tired of your daily routine.” C. “It appears as though the source of your difficulty is that you haven’t pushed yourself in any fresh settings recently.” d. They are all equally effective paraphrases
  1. A. Make some rapid judgements about the speaker to ensure that you are not deceived by him or her. b. in your imagination, connect the message and the speaker together. c. Take advantage of the situation by learning everything you can from this speaker, even if it means learning what not to do. d. pay attention to the details rather than the key concepts
  2. And
  • It is necessary to nod and smile while seeming to listen
  • This is known as
  1. A. selective hearing is a type of listening in which you only hear what you want to hear. b. listening on the defensive b. dominating the stage a. seeming to listen
  1. A. Listening is a natural activity that everyone goes through. c. It takes work to be attentive. b. The identical message is sent to all listeners. d. Each and every one of these statements is correct
  • Which of the following activities takes up the most proportion of a normal person’s day?
  1. A. The processes of listening and hearing are very similar. c. It is possible to hear while not paying attention. d. Listening is a physical activity, whereas hearing is a psychological one. c. It is possible to listen without hearing what is being spoken
  1. A. We don’t put out the necessary effort. b. We are experiencing information overload. c. We are subjected to psychological noise. d. Each and every one of these is accurate
  • Mike’s workplace banter hardly registers on John’s radar until Mike begins to recount the number of employees who have been absent from work in recent weeks. Then John pays close attention since he’s been attempting to demonstrate to Mike how the new flex time policy will result in more absenteeism for some time. After that, John uses Mike’s own words to criticize Mike’s preference for flex time. John is currently involved with
  1. A. pretending to be attentive. b. uncaring and unsensitive listening c. listening on the defense d. ambush tactics
  1. A. “Could you perhaps assist me in understanding why this is proving so tough for you?” “Can you tell me why you’re acting so strange?” “Do you think you’re going to get a promotion?” c. “Do you still have an issue with your weight?”
  • According to the research provided in your book, listening is an important aspect in sustaining one’s health.
  1. A. the state of one’s marital connections. b. the relationships within the family c. achieving professional achievement. d. Each and every one of these is accurate
  1. In the case of a great buddy who is through a difficult time at work. The time of a meeting is important to know while planning a trip or vacation. c. When you are the target of a marketing campaign. In all of these instances, critical listening would be acceptable
  2. Nonetheless,
  • An example of a listening style is one in which the listener overlooks unwelcome information.
  1. A. a listening environment that is protected from outside influences. Pseudolistening is the second type of listening. c. sneaking up on someone. d. overabundance of messages
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Culture and Identity: East and West

Cultural psychologists Hazel Rose Markus and Alana Conner investigated alternative modes of being, or what they refer to as theindependent and interdependent selves, in order to better understand human behavior. Markus and Conner compared kids from Eastern and Western cultures in a variety of contexts, ranging from classroom involvement to parental styles. They found significant differences. Markus and Conner agreed that, while there are significant variances and different characteristics among these locations and civilizations, they had some general findings to share: Listening, following the “correct” path, fitting in, and being calm are not unusual classroom habits for many East Asians and their children growing up in the West; rather, they are the precise path to becoming a good person—a good interdependent self, Eastern style—and becoming a good person.

  1. While speaking out, choosing your own path, standing out, and becoming thrilled are all wonderful ways to be a good person, for their Western classmates and instructors, they are good autonomous selves in the Western manner.
  2. Choice is possibly the most significant act in the Western world since it allows people to actualize all five aspects of their independence.
  3. Interdependent parents, on the other hand, have a distinct agenda: I demonstrate to my kid the proper way to do something, and then I assist her in doing it correctly.
  4. 1 The author Gish Jen is profiled in this picture, whose book Tiger Writing: Art, Culture, and the Interdependent Self investigates the distinctions between Eastern and Western modes of self-narration.
  5. Gish Jen, the author, is acutely aware of the tensions that exist across cultures on a personal level.
  6. In reading her father’s autobiography, Jen realized she was not a “narrative native” and that she needed to comprehend this continuity in herself: This was not something we did in my family.
  7. I was not encouraged to conceive of myself as a distinct individual whose individuality was, in fact, a very significant aspect of who I was.

As a result, it wasn’t until I started reading that I learned that in the Western world.this was a fundamental concept to be understood.

I don’t have any photographs of me taken even a minute after my birth.

My father’s autobiography, which he had written when he was 85 years old, came to me as I began to get more interested in the whole subject of narrative difference, which is related to a difference of self and a difference in perception.

The author of this book, who was meant to be writing an autobiography about his childhood in China, did not appear until page 8 of the book.

No, no, and no more.

After mentioning his birth in parenthesis in connection with another occasion, my father finally gets around to mentioning his own birth in parentheses.

This was something I understood.

One thing was something I was familiar with using my left hand, while another was something I was familiar with using my right hand.

The “interdependent,” collaborative self stresses interdependence, and the “independent,” collaborative self stresses interdependence.

It goes without saying that there is a continuum between these two very distinct self-conceptions, along which most individuals are positioned and along which they may also shift throughout the course of a single moment.

Culture is not destiny; it just provides patterns that individuals may choose to accept, reject, or change, and then put into action.3


  1. What distinctions, according to Markus and Conner, do East Asians and European Americans have in their conceptions of the connection between society and the individual? Specifically, how do the diverse cultural views about independence and dependency influence how those who participated in the study nurture their children? In their research for Clash, Markus and Conner spoke with a large number of their graduate students from both Eastern and Western cultural backgrounds. It was common among students and professors from Western backgrounds to express dissatisfaction with what they regarded to be a lack of involvement in class among students who had been educated in or originated from East-Asian cultural backgrounds. East-Asian pupils expressed their dissatisfaction with the American attitude that “talking equals thinking.” One of the graduate students from Japan who contributed to the publication presented a selection of proverbs from his country that he believed reflected these distinctions. 1Misfortune is brought on by the words that are said. Keep your mouth closed as if it were a vase of some sort. You have two ears and one mouth, and they should be used in that proportional relationship. The duck with the loudest quack is the one that gets shot. Do you have any thoughts on how to interpret these proverbs? What broader concepts are being expressed by these proverbs
  2. Heejung Kim, a graduate student from South Korea, was also a student of Hazel Markus’s. As a result of being confronted with the fact that she was not speaking in class, Heejung wrote an email to Hazel in which she included the following as a new signature: “The empty train shakes the loudest.” A quote from the renowned Confucian philosopher Lao Tzu was given by Heejung later in life: “He who knows does not talk, and he who speaks does not know.” All of these proverbs communicate the wider cultural notions they are meant to communicate. Beginning with the words “I was not a narrative native,” the passage from author Gish Jen continues with the phrase “I was not a narrative native.” What exactly is she referring to? What does the statement convey about the message she wishes to convey about how culture shapes the way individuals perceive themselves and their surroundings? Gish Jen, an author, discusses the delicate balance that individuals must maintain while discussing cultural differences: For the record, I am well aware of the dangers of stereotyping in this topic as well as in any conversation concerning cultural differences in any form. In the words of sociologist Martin M. Marger, “simplistic and over inflated perceptions about a group, which are often learned second-hand and difficult to change,” are categorically denounced and strictly avoided. Nonetheless, I am aware that a fear of stereotyping has occasionally resulted in dissatisfaction with a declaration of cultural difference, no matter how widely acknowledged by psychologists or how solidly based on scientific evidence it may be. 3 Is it possible to discuss and learn about the effect of culture without falling prey to stereotypes? In order to avoid discussions about culture from perpetuating preconceptions, what ideas, cautions, or advice might be beneficial to provide?


In our previous blogs, we looked at how cultural variations affect our body language and the way we talk; today, we’ll take a look at a little-known talent that everyone possesses but that many people fail to put to use! Listening. Similarly to how we carry ourselves, how we use our eyes, and how we speak, cultures also differ in how they respond to what is being said to them. How we listen to information, how we process it, what we focus on, and how we feel we are supposed to react and/or respond are all influenced by our own cultural conditioning, which is unique to each individual person.

Despite individual variances, it is feasible to make broad conclusions about various cultures and their preferences or habits despite the fact that each person is unique.

  1. The focal point or point of communication
  2. The usage of pauses or quiet
  3. And the final objective of any discussion are all important considerations.

Some cultures place greater emphasis on the context of a conversation than than the words that are being spoken – they may be interpreting body language, gestures, energy, eye movements, and other forms of subtle coding in order to comprehend what the other person is saying. Other cultures, where non-verbal communication is less significant, have a tendency to “speak what they mean” and make things straightforward. Here are a few instances of how hearing differs from one culture to the next. MAKE SURE TO READ TO THE END FOR A FREE DOWNLOAD!

What is the main focus of communication?

  • Germany, Sweden, and other civilizations in Nordic and Germanic Europe are mentioned in the article. According to the way it is expressed: most of Asia and the Arab world

Are long or short pauses normal?

  • Pauses for short periods of time in Greece, Spain and Italy
  • Longer periods of time in Japan and the Nordic nations. In the middle: Northern Europe and the United States are examples of cultures that are uncomfortable with quiet but have less overlap when it comes to speaking.

What is most important in conversation?

  • Australia, the United States, Germany, France, Ireland, and the Netherlands are among the countries with which we are familiar. There is agreement that the Arab world and most of Asia, particularly South Korea, Japan, and China, are more focused on building and maintaining good connections than the rest of the globe.
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Culture Is Not That Simple

When making generalizations about a culture, it is vital to recognize that not everyone from that culture will conform to that generalization. We can only draw broad generalizations about cultures based on study into their characteristics, values, and behavioral patterns. Every person is a unique individual who deserves to be respected and treated as such. Generalizations merely aid us in our understanding of the cultural milieu in which we may be functioning. Treat everyone the same – that is, in no way different.

Try it Out – DIY Cultural Training

First and foremost, you will need to locate a partner that is equally enthusiastic about trying this out as you are. Both of you should have a look at the list below and make a mental map of where you believe you fall on the spectrum. Consider being as honest with yourself as possible rather than designing your own path to where you would like to end up. After that, ask one another where you would place each other and explore any disparities you may have discovered. What may be the reason behind this?

  • Use shorter or longer pauses to test your understanding of each other’s usual speaking styles and to challenge each other.
  • What emotions does it elicit in you?
  • Consider the following questions: When you were a kid, were you instructed, “Don’t interrupt!” Were you encouraged to seek clarification at school by using terms such as “Any questions?” and “Is that clear?” Did you learn to ask for clarification?
  • If you were raised to ask questions, you may be more inclined to seek knowledge than to seek agreement on a particular point.
  • Are you able to tolerate relatively extended periods of stillness, or do you prefer to fill silences with speech as quickly as possible?
  • When are you most likely to place a high priority on comprehension and clarity?

We hope you have found this quick introduction to cultural differences in the way we listen to be informative. Please help us by spreading the word about this blog so that as many people as possible may begin to learn about cultural differences! Unsplash image courtesy of Nick Fewingson

1.7.1 – Common Reactions

1.7.1 – Common ReactionsCulture shock is an extreme response to an international transition.There are other “surprises” thatare less severe. It is helpfulto think of common reactions when going abroad in these terms:Culture”Surprise”:Usuallyoccurs early in your stay in the new culture when you begin to be awareof superficial, novel, and startling differences. Often characterizes the”honeymoon” phase of adjustment.Culture “Stress”: A mild response to “stimulusoverload.” Culture Stress”is often seen in travelers abroad. One becomes tired and withdrawn. Annoyance builds as dailyreality becomes more difficult.Culture”Irritation”:Often manifests itself in terms of �Item Irritation� and is usually traceable to a few observable behaviors that are common in the culture, and to which an individual reacts particularly strongly (a personal �hot button�). These may include spitting, hygiene, verbal harassment, public displays (affection, drunkenness, etc.), or other overt behaviors to which an individual has a strong negative response.Culture”Fatigue”:A fairly short-term response to “stimulus overload.” This occurs when you begin to respond to the behavior of the “new” culture and are stressed by trying to deal with lots of new culturalinformation all at once. Stress and irritation intensify as you attemptto study or work in a foreign environment. There is a cumulatively greaterimpact due to the “need to operate” in unfamiliar and difficultcontexts.Symptoms intensify.Ability to function declines. It can occur soon after arrival or withina few weeks. It can hit you quickly and is often accompanied by “Language Fatigue.” Language fatigue occurs when, trying to use a second languageconstantly, you become physically and psychologically drained by speaking,listening, and finding meaning in, until now, a little used “new”language. Culture “Shock”:Culture Shock comes fromthe natural contradiction between our accustomed patterns of behaviorand the psychological conflict of attempting to maintain them in the newcultural environment. While the time of onset is variable, it usuallyoccurs within a few months of entering a new culture and is a normal,healthy psychological reaction. While culture shock is common, reliefis available. There are ways to minimize its effects -the first ofwhich is to accept that it is a real phenomenon- and to learn to recognizeits sometimes vague, if persistent, signs in yourself as well as others.If negative attitudes towards minor annoyancesdo not change, a low level of persistent frustration is likely to buildup. This can quickly lead to volatile anger when accumulated stress inappropriatelyand unexpectedly erupts and you vent your feelings, but you are unableto trace the outburst to a single source. People around you mightcomment, “What was that all about?” or “Where did that come from?”Just remember that unlike temporary annoyance when you are in the presenceof a particular cultural practice (e.g., mistreatment of animals or publicdisplays of affection), culture shock is neither caused by a single actnor easily traceable to a particular event. It is cumulative, attributableto many small things that happen over time, and it has the potential tobe more deeply felt and take longer to alleviate.
The sources of stress overseas are often similarto the ones we encounter at home, but they may become magnified in a new setting. Without accessiblesupport, studying abroad can become, often temporarily, more a dauntingchallenge than a pleasurable experience. A “bad day” at homecan usually be attributed to something concrete (a fight with a friend,a bad test result, lack of sleep) and quickly resolved. The sources ofstress abroad are a bit harder to identify.
  1. Working in unfamiliar social and academic environments without a clear knowledge of what it takes to succeed or prevent failure can be difficult. Going abroad with unrealistic expectations and preconceptions of what life would be like and discovering that those expectations and preconceptions are unrealistic, idealistic, or stereotypical
  2. Making every effort to learn the language or culture and failing to make the kind of progress you expected
  3. Attempting to make “foreign” friends and discovering that this is impossible
  4. And going abroad with unrealistic expectations and preconceptions of what life would be like and discovering that those ideas are unrealistic, idealistic, or stereotypical.

It is possible that these kinds of difficulties will subside as you become more aware and adept in the new culture. There is a good chance that they are suffering from “cultural weariness.” Unlike “frustration,” culture shock is a more strong and prolonged form of the feeling. It frequently results from origins that are less visible and from conditions that last for an extended period of time. Psychologists and study abroad counsellors agree that transition shock is a common occurrence and that it is perfectly “natural,” however students who are experiencing difficulties in their adjustment may find it a major emotional hardship.

“Can you tell me what I’m doing here?” “What exactly is the problem with these people?” as well as “Why aren’t they doing it the proper way?” With reasonable certainty, some degree of transition shock will be present.

It may be difficult to identify the connection between culture shock and the emotions you are experiencing at any one time.

Symptoms of culture shock include the following:

  • Hyper-irritability, which may include inappropriate anger and aggressiveness
  • Feelings of helplessness or reliance
  • Disorientation and isolation
  • Depression and melancholy
  • Extreme homesickness Excessive critical reactions to the host culture/stereotyping
  • Sleep and eating disorders (either too little or too much)
  • And Hypochondria
  • Excessive drinking
  • Recreational drug use
  • Extreme worry about sanitation, safety (even paranoia), and being taken advantage of
  • Inability to concentrate and accomplish activities
  • And loss of concentration and capacity to perform jobs
It is important to understandthat �culture shock� has a wide range of symptoms and that many people experienceonly mild annoyances and temporary dissatisfaction in the process of adjustingto life overseas. These reactions are probably better characterized as �itemirritation� (a cultural practice or attitude that �drives you nuts� whenyou encounter it) or �culturefatigue� (a temporary frustration). However, for a few, culture shock canbe a profoundly disorienting experience and take much longer to recover from,particularly if those in the midst of the experience are unaware of thesources of the problem and have no idea of how to counteract it.Inaddition to studies on what causes culture shock, many studies have been doneon when culture shock occurs and its stages. From this, we can generalizethe following:Arrival/HoneymoonInspite of jet-lag, local transportation and housing issues, communication difficulties,and the normal heightened anxiety one feels when embarking upon a journey andafter arrival, most travelers find the first few days or weeks in a new countryan exhilarating experience. Called the “Honeymoon Phase,” this canbe a little like the “It�s a small world” sentiment one can succumb to on avisit to Disneyland. Things arenew, different, interesting, “quaint,” “traditional,” novel, or “historical”and everything takes on a slight glow of unreality. Beyond the “quaint,” itis the similarities that stand out, not the differences (or they are minimizedor romanticized).The”Honeymoon” phase of initial culturalcontact will likely be brief, but in some cases it may linger for a month ormore. For some students the phase may quickly give way to a downward spiralwhere an increasing realization of difference is coupled with a tendency toplace exaggerated emphasis on these cultural characteristics. Some begin tosee these differences as �defects� in the host culture. Others, criticized for inappropriate actions, respond by �blaming the hosts,�thereby increasing their own alienation and justifying their attitudes. Thismakes it even more difficult for them to evaluate their own behavior or objectivelyobserve the host culture. DeepeningCulture ShockMoreserious culture shock arises as a result of cumulative, largely puzzling encountersresulting in equally negative perceptions. Forthat reason, the �shock� is deceptively gradual. Those who enter another countrywith an attitude of what anthropologists call �naive realism� the view that everyone sees the world essentially as they do are susceptible to beingquickly disabused of that idea as reality sets in. If the naive realist also holds an ethnocentric belief thathis or her cultural ways are preferable and superior to all others, the likelihoodof some kind of conflict escalates enormously.Formost study abroad students, culture shock is a mild, transitory annoyance thatcan be overcome with relative ease through personal effort and increased knowledge andwith the assistance of sympathetic friends and advisers. Culture shock is simply the deepest trough of the �U-curve�and rarely lasts more than a few weeks. The recovery from culture shock is themirror image of its onset�that is, it comes on gradually and leaves the sameway. When you feel particularlydown or discouraged, it helps to know that it will almost surely get better.Mostimportant, culture shock can be a period of intense self-assessment and culturelearning. Experiencing the process itself can be beneficial. Overcoming evena mild case of culture shock will result in your feeling more confident, self-reliant,independent, and capable of your ability to cope with cross-cultural experiences.In a way, having a little culture shock can immunize you for future travels.Even though coping with culture shock in one context won�t necessarily preventit from ever occurring again, it will definitely lessen its impact and giveyou the insight and understanding to deal with it effectively.Whilefew study abroad students experience the more severe forms of culture shock,most feel some of its effects unless they rarely interact with the local populations. Fortunately, although culture shock cannot be totally avoided,simply being aware of its symptoms and knowing how and why it happens can makeadjustment to overseas living easier and more effective. Remember, culture shocksignals that you are learning something new about the culture and, presumably,that is what you want to do.Manystudents never experience culture shock to any appreciable extent and performtheir overseas tasks and manage their relationships just fine. For those whodo experience a degree of discomfort in the process of living abroad, it canbe an opportunity to grow and learn, although probably best appreciated fromthe perspective of being on the “right-hand” side of the U-shaped curve of adjustment.MovingOn and AdaptingMovingbeyond culture shock and continuing to live and learn overseas puts you on thepath to becoming interculturally fluent. Becoming more deeply engaged with the local culture increases your levelof intercultural adaptation and your ability to reach your goals. It also makes cultural learning more enjoyable, if not always easier.Thislearning process is complex and almost inevitably results in reports from returningstudents that, �I learned more about myself and my culture than about the cultureI was living in.� The learning process can be a bit painful,take longerthan expected, and can lead to the onset of symptoms associated with cultureshock. The good news is that this indicates that learning is occurring and thatyou are getting better and better at understanding the culture.Beingaware of this cycle of cultural adjustment will allow you to better understandyour reactions during your time abroad. In addition, this cycle of culturaladjustment can be linked with levels of Cultural Awareness.

An Important Skill Set for the 21st Century

Maria Rosario T. de Guzman is an Extension Specialist in Adolescence at the University of California, Berkeley. Tonia R. Durden is an Extension Specialist in Early Childhood Education at the University of Georgia. Sarah A. Taylor is a Graduate Research Assistant at the University of California, Los Angeles. Jackie M. Guzman is an Extension Educator at the University of California, Davis. Kathy L. Potthoff is an Extension Educator at the University of Minnesota. Active listening, empathy, and effective participation are all cultural competence skills that may be demonstrated to assist us create a welcome atmosphere and generate an awareness of the similarities and differences that exist across different cultures.

Cultural background can comprise the beliefs, practices, and behaviors of people belonging to a variety of different ethnic and racial groupings.

Beyond mere tolerance, which indicates a willingness to ignore differences, there is a willingness to transcend disparities. The alternative is to demonstrate our appreciation and respect for diversity through our words and deeds in all situations.

Why Is Cultural Competence Important?

The United States has long had a diversified population of people of different ethnic backgrounds, including African Americans, Native Americans, and Japanese Americans, to mention just a few examples. Recently, our country has experienced significant demographic fluctuations, notably as a result of massive migration that has altered the terrain of the country. According to the Census Bureau, the Hispanic population in the United States increased from roughly 12.5 percent in 1990 to over 16 percent by 2009, and it is expected to reach 25 percent by 2050.

Although non-Hispanic whites will remain the largest group, they will not constitute the majority of the population as they did previously.

To put it another way, although we have always lived in a multicultural society, we are now operating in a more culturally diverse environment where we must be able to interact, communicate, build relationships, and work effectively with people from a variety of cultural and ethnic backgrounds and backgrounds.

Societies are increasingly becoming globalized

The world we live in today is varied and global. Because of technological advancements, intercultural encounters are now a fairly regular occurrence all over the world. People can routinely engage with one another beyond national lines through social networking sites, blogs, and chat rooms. There is substantial international collaboration taking place in many businesses right now, and professions in many disciplines are becoming more and more dependent on working with individuals from foreign nations, both directly and indirectly.

A growing number of industries and professional organizations (for example, the National Education Association and the RAND Corporation) are emphasizing the importance of cultural competence and related skills (for example, global awareness), recognizing that our increasingly globalized society is a necessity in the modern workplace.

Being able to navigate our globalized world successfully requires the ability to recognize and appreciate diversity in all of its manifestations, as well as the ability to effectively connect and communicate with individuals from a variety of cultural backgrounds.

Persistence of issues around cross-cultural contact, discrimination, and related challenges

Contrary to popular belief, despite the fact that countries are growing more culturally diverse and globalized, challenges such as inequality, prejudice, and failures in intercultural communication continue to plague society. According to the FBI, there were about 6,000 documented incidents of hate crimes in the United States in the year 2013. Nearly 60% of them were motivated by racial or ethnic prejudice; 20% were motivated by sexual orientation; and 17% were motivated by religious beliefs or practices.

It is not need to go farther than current news stories to see that ethnic tensions continue to exist.

Discrimination and bias in various forms are hurtful all around

Discrimination and bigotry have major ramifications for everyone involved. For example, preconceptions and bigotry have been blamed for the rise in recorded incidents of police brutality and the deaths of African Americans, both of which have increased in recent years. A considerable amount of research has also demonstrated that victims of bias suffer in ways that are less evident, such as in their academic achievement, work performance, and other areas of their lives, even when the biases are subtle in their nature.

The negative consequences of prejudices are visible not just for those who are the targets of biases.

Furthermore, having biases and prejudices has a harmful impact on the very people who hold those stereotyped ideas in the first place.

As a result, prejudices and stereotypes have detrimental consequences for everyone involved: for individuals and organizations, as well as for those who are the objects of bias and those who have such biases.

Tips for Building Skills in Cultural Competence

Rather than being a destination, developing cultural competency is a continuous process. In the case of any talent, the process of development and progress continues indefinitely, and it is difficult to pinpoint a certain point in time when one may conclude, “That’s it!

“I’ve finally made it!” Increasing our ability to be productive in our dealings with people is something that we can do in a variety of different ways. Listed below are some tips to help you progress further in your growth.

Increasing cultural and global knowledge

When it comes to understanding the perspectives of diverse ethnic groups, learning more about other cultures and keeping up with current events are frequently essential steps. Learning about the behaviors, values, and beliefs of a person’s culture may be beneficial when dealing with people from a variety of various cultural backgrounds. As an example, knowing about the languages used in their communities, child-rearing techniques, and religious traditions may allow us to better understand and engage with people of all ages and cultural backgrounds.

  1. It is extremely beneficial to be aware of these historical contexts, since they may aid in the explanation of present occurrences.
  2. Certain words represent lengthy histories of oppression and ongoing experiences of oppression, and as a result, they can elicit sentiments of pain and other unpleasant emotions.
  3. Additionally, certain traditional occasions may elicit debate concerning their significance and whether or not they should be observed at all in the future (e.g., Columbus Day).
  4. Finally, events and policies that have occurred in the past continue to have an influence on the individuals, families, and cultural groups with whom you are dealing now.
  5. It is critical for those of us who engage with refugees or migrants in our communities to understand the events that led to their departure from their home countries.


Taking time to examine and critically evaluate our own biases and prejudices allows us to build the skills necessary to effectively communicate and connect with others who have a cultural background that is different from our own. Recognizing that everyone has prejudices is a critical step in developing cultural competency in any situation. The sources of our prejudices can be traced back to our upbringing, life events, or personal demographic characteristics, and these biases persist whether or not we are conscious of them.

Biases can have an impact on our relationships with people as well as our views of them.

However, if we are conscious of our own prejudices, we may endeavor to reduce the impact they have on our relationships with others and the consequences they may have on those interactions.

Understanding that we all have prejudices and that we all carry stereotypes is the first step toward achieving cultural competency in one’s life.

Going beyond tolerance: Building skills and putting them in action

Tolerating people from a variety of ethnic origins is a positive start in the right way. Tolerance, on the other hand, is not always the best strategy. Contrary to popular belief, tolerance generally refers to merely putting up with something that you dislike. In order to be culturally competent, one must go beyond simply “putting up with” differences and instead be grateful, affirming, and inclusive of people from various cultural origins. We can ask members of a cultural group open-minded, open-ended inquiries, or we can ask for additional information, such as “I would want to learn more about.”, to develop our cultural competency, for example.

Generally speaking, cultural competency is comprised of three essential components: active listening, displaying empathy, and engaging in productive dialogue.

Active Listening

Remember the last time you had a discussion when you actively listened to the other person, even if they had drastically different experiences and opinions from your own? When you actively listen to someone, you may learn about that person’s culture and life experiences from their perspective. You should listen for the complete meaning of what is being said by focussing on the material that is being provided and on what is being stated. Consider the emotion or mood that is underlying the stuff you are listening to when you are actively listening.

When developing cultural competency through active listening, it is important to minimize mental distractions in addition to listening for the full meaning of what is being said.

For example, if you believe that homosexuality is immoral and a choice and you are engaged in a debate with a friend about the legalization of same-sex marriage, the key is to pay attention to what is being said and how it is being said rather than engaging in mental chitchat about what scientific or biblical facts you can cite to support your position.

Do not leap to give them advise or suggesting remedies about what you consider to be the problem or their problem without first asking them what they think the problem is.

The most successful answer, especially if you are in a position where you are responsible for settling a disagreement between two individuals, necessitates first gathering further information and considering other views.


Empathy is the second component of cultural competency that must be demonstrated. It is the art of seeing and feeling another person’s predicament, walking in another person’s shoes, or seeing the world through the eyes of that person. Empathy is being able to comprehend another person’s perspectives as well as the inferences that person derives from his or her own life experiences. It does not imply that you must agree with the other person’s views and conclusions, but it does indicate that you are capable of understanding the other person’s point of view.

One of the benefits of being straight in our culture is having access to a variety of media, print pictures, and entertainment that depict heterosexual love and relationships and signal that it is not taboo to embrace or kiss your girlfriend or spouse in public.

As a result, empathy is defined as the ability to comprehend the other person’s point of view.

It also entails developing personal interactions with individuals or members of a particular cultural group.


Engagement is the third component of cultural competency, and it must be effective. Engagement should be mutually beneficial, as well as a learning process that allows you to learn from and teach one another new things. Concentrate on the behaviors and the environment rather than on the individual. It is best to avoid making value-laden remarks that make the individual the target. If the conversation or engagement is centered on a particular tradition or believe, it is important to retain the comments within the context of that tradition or belief.

Concentrate on gaining a grasp of the tradition or practice.

When it comes to advancing beyond tolerance, it is critical to demonstrate cultural competency characteristics such as active listening, displaying empathy, and engaging in successful engagement.


R. Baumeister is credited with inventing the term “contemporary euphemism” (2011). The theory of the yearning to belong. 2, pp. 121–140, in Handbook of theories of social psychology. Colby, S. L., Ortman, J. M., and others (2015). Current population statistics are as follows: Population projections for the United States from 2014 through 2060, including the size and mix of the population. The United States Census Bureau is based in Washington, DC. Dovidio, J. F., Gaertner, S. E., Kawakami, K., Hodson, G.

F., Gaertner, S.


“Interpersonal prejudices and inter-racial mistrust” are two terms that come to mind.

8, no.


FBI stands for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (2014).

Mendes, W.

(accessed from Mendes, W.

The following are some reasons why equality may be beneficial to your health: It is possible to have physiological flourishing amid stressful intergroup contacts.

18, no.


When the police lose their cool.

26, no.


From 1970 to 2050, the Hispanic population in the United States will double.

Census Bureau provided this information on November 28, 2011.

The Hispanic population in the United States in 2010.

K., Gervais, S.

Vescio, T.

J., Heiphetz, L., Bloodhart, B.


Nelson (ed.

247–266), The stereotypic practices of the dominant and their influence on the comparatively powerless (pp.

New York: Psychology Press.

O., David, E.

R., Saw, A.,Okazaki, S.


Race and Social Problems, 6,181–200.

University of Nebraska—Lincoln Extension educational programs abide with the nondiscrimination policies of the University of Nebraska—Lincoln and the United States Department of Agriculture.

Copyright 2016, The Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska on behalf of the University of Nebraska—Lincoln Extension. All rights reserved.

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