Nowadays, we unfortunately have not yet achieved a means of mutual understanding. Caring about how people from different countries and cultures act, communicate and perceive the world around them would seem to be a fundamental, overarching skill of any member of a globalized society.
Intercultural communications courses will come in handy in any modern day work environment. For instance, how would you deal with a situation where a member of your office posted an offensive video on a company blog? Intercultural communications coursework will equip you with the expertise necessary to manage the situation with grace, tact, while showing the minutest respect for your fellow workers.
Although, some shameful violations of intercultural etiquette still take place on a much larger scale.
Take Spain for instance; a modern European country, one of the largest economies in the world, which enjoys a high standard of living and an active member of a number of transnational organizations. The legacy of its formidable global empire can still be felt today, with more than 500 million Spanish speakers, making it the world’s second most widely spoken language.
Yet this apparent sophistication still gives way to ignorance. Take the ‘Negro de Banyoles’ – the mounted and stuffed corpse of an African bushman that remained on display at a Catalan museum until late 2000- the 21st century! This controversial piece of taxidermy was ultimately returned and laid to rest in Botswana.
And let’s not forget the official photos of the Spanish Olympic basketball team in the run up to the Beijing Olympics in 2008! This was taken for a Spanish Basketball Federation advertisement. Completely inconsiderate without a shred of thought having gone into these photo ops? Yes, of course. The apparent lack of awareness that these photos would cause any controversy is almost laughable.
But let’s not forget that these sorry excuses for sophisticated intellectuals are not a reflection of Spaniards in general – like anywhere else in the world, there as many a**holes as there are respectable, friendly, and highly cultured people. Individuals well-equipped in the way of intercultural communications will be able to avoid such insensitive faux paus, and command more respect from their fellow co-workers rather than making enemies in the workplace.
In an increasingly globalized world, and with the worldwide phenomenon that is the internet, it’s such a cheap shot to take some user generated video and pass it off as justification for your own pretentions and prejudice. With just a little understanding, we can take the discourse up a notch and not succumb to the lowest common denominator.
One careless individual, with a penchant for 10 year old news, making sweeping statements about another nation or culture isn’t exactly the sharpest tool in the shed. Don’t be that guy and jump on the intercultural communications bandwagon already!