There is a quote that has been passed down many years and is most recently accounted to P.T. Barnum, “There is a sucker born every minute.” Are you that sucker? If you were, would you like to be “reborn?” The goal of this book is to help you through that “birthing” process. Critical thinking and standing up for your ideas and making decisions are important in both your personal and professional life. How good are we at making the decision to marry? According to the Centers for Disease Control, there is one divorce in America every 36 seconds. That is nearly 2,400 every day. And professionally, the Wall Street Journal predicts the average person will have 7 careers in their lifetime. Critical thinking skills are crucial.
The text introduces some of the key concepts in intercultural communication as traditionally presented in (North American) courses and textbooks, namely the study of differences between cultures, as represented in the works and theories of Edward Hall (1959) and Geert Hofstede (1980). Common to these approaches is the prominence of context, leading to a view of human interactions as dynamic and changeable, given the complexity of language and culture, as human agents interact with their environments. This aligns with the principal approach used in this textbook, which is broadly ecological, looking at the multiple factors of individuality and context (including but not limited to national origin) that influence intercultural communication. There is an attempt throughout the text to incorporate views on intercultural communication from a geographically diverse array of scholars, supplementing the author's North American perspective. How intercultural communication is envisioned as a discipline varies considerably from country to country. In many cases, intercultural communication is associated with professional areas such as business, education, healthcare, or hospitality services. These are all areas in which communication with those who represent different cultures and languages is crucially important, and where encounters between those representing different cultures is increasingly the norm.