CHAPTER TWO Intercultural Communication Competence:A Synthe
As we encounter ever greater cultural and cocultural diversity, our careful study of intercultural communication competence becomes increasingly important. Only with mastery of intercultural communication competence can persons from different cultures communicate effectively and appropriately in the upcoming global society. Following a recounting of themes of research on intercultural communication, the analysis argues the necessity to negotiate multiple identities of individuals in terms of culture, race, ethnicity, gender, and religion in the interdependent and interconnected network of global society. This requires a functional and theoretical transformation for the study of intercultural communication competence.
As the world populace grows more aware of its interdependence, it confronts evershifting cultural, ecological, economic, and technological realities that define the shrinking world of the 21st century. To develop newer ways of living in the world together, to see things through the eyes of others, and to add the knowledge of others to our personal repertoire become pivotal for further human progress. This global mindset can only result from competent intercommunication among peoples form diverse cultures.
To build citizens for the 21st century, we must learn to see through the eyes, hearts, and minds of people from different cultures. Several important trends have transformed the 21st century into the age of global village in which people must develop a global mindset in order to live meaningfully and productively. These trends include: (1) technology development, (2) globalization of the economy, (3) widespread population migrations, (4) development of the multiculturalism, and (5) the demise of the nation state in form of sub and supranational identifications. These events compel us to study intercultural communication competence.
The development of communication and transportation technology that links every part of the world serves to interconnect almost every aspect of life at the onset of the 21st century (Frederick, 1993; Porter & Samovar, 1994). Today the flow of ideas and information increasingly transcends national boundaries. People can also travel to anywhere in the world within a short period of time. Faster travel speeds wrought by transportation technology introduce increasing facetoface communication among people from different cultures.
Globalization of the Economy
The progress of communication and transportation technology renders global markets more accessible and the business world more interrelated and international. Regional trade alliances become the new world order. The trend of global economy brings people from different cultures together. It requires representatives from multinational corporations to communicate with those in other regions to retain a competitive space in the global economic arena. The interdependence among international economies reflects the important role intercultural communication plays now and in the next century. Learning for greater cultural understanding and competency has become an essential element of global business (Adler, 1991; Mead, 1990).
Widespread Population Migrations
While cultural interconnectedness increases due to the technology development, we also witness remarkable population migrations across national borders. The United States as a country strongly feels the impact of this trend. The 1990 Census reveals that the first generation foreignborn population in the United States has reached almost 20 million. About 8.7 million entered the United States between 1980 and 1990. At least 32 million of the population speak a first language other than English, and 14 million do not speak English fluently. These figures indicate that the increasing number of immigrants has restructured the fabric of American society. The United States has become a much more culturally diverse country.
This multiethnic structure makes intercultural contact among cocultures inevitable. Those of the United States must learn to adjust to one another's identity. This trend demands communication effective for a diversifying society (Nieto, 1992).
Development of the Multiculturalism
The changing demographics of the United States stand to affect every aspect of life. Johnston and Packer (1987), for example, predict that the increasing diversity of workforce and social life in the United States will dramatically affect organizational life in the 21st century. The new workforce will comprise persons who are diverse in race, culture, age, gender, and language. Cultural diversity or multiculturalism will become the norm rather than the exception in American life. Thus, intercultural communication scholars ought to address these issues to help people learn to work and live together without being deterred by the differences people may bring to an encounter. Learning for greater cultural understanding and competency becomes an essential part of human life in the contemporary age.
Deemphasis of the Nation State
While new immigrants are arriving and cocultures are making headway in achieving fuller participation, our very idea of our identity will be sure to change. Increasingly, we are pulled into regional alliances, such as NATO or NAFTA, that are larger than the nation. In addition, we see the reassertion of ethnic and gender differences within the nation. Women have begun to talk as women, African Americans as African Americans, and Native Americans as Native Americans. To be able to negotiate meanings and priorities of diverse identities becomes a prerequisite of being competent in modern society (Collier & Thomas, 1988).
The five trends combine to provide a foundation for the indispensability of intercultural communication competence in the upcoming global society. The world becomes more interdependent and interconnected and the nationstate more culturally heterogeneous. These developments foster multiple, simultaneous identities of individuals in terms of culture, ethnicity, race, religion, nationality, and gender (Belay, 1993). Intercultural communication competence therefore functions to nourish a human personality in which people are aware of their multiple identities and are able to maintain a multicultural coexistence in order to develop a "global civic culture" (Boulding, 1988). In other words, intercultural communication competence transforms a monocultural person into a multicultural person. This transformational process is achieved through symmetrical interdependence that enables persons to demonstrate "tolerance for differences and mutual respect among cultures as a mark of enlightened national and global citizenship" in individual, social, business, and political institutions levels (Belay, 1993).
Based on this theoretical foundation, the following discussions of intercultural communication competence are divided into five sections: (1) the nature of communication competence, (2) approaches to the study of intercultural communication competence, (3) a model of intercultural communication competence, (4) critique and directions for future research, and (5) summary and conclusion.
The Nature of Communication Competence
While fifty years of conceptualizing have provided for intercultural communication a theoretical and practical foundation, still it remains a fresh field. The study of intercultural communication dates back to the works of political scientists and anthropologists in the 1940s and 1950s. Whereas linguist Edward Sapir wrote in the 1920's, it took Benjamin Whorf to frame his work more fully as a communication question. As sociologists, linguists, and communication scholars have developed interest in intercultural communication, two separate schools of thoughtcultural dialogue and cultural criticnow inform research in intercultural communication (Asante, Newmark, & Blake, 1979). Both schools have spawned significant research in intercultural communication. One of the main topics studied by the two groups is intercultural communication competence an effective means whereby we can understand cultural commonalities and move beyond cultural differences in order to reach the ideal goals advocated by cultural dialogists and cultural critics. But, we ask, "What is communication competence?"
Definition of Communication Competence
Two concepts have long been used to conceptualize communication competence: effectiveness and appropriateness. Effectiveness refers to an individual's ability to produce the intended effect from interaction with the environment. This ability is treated either as a basic human need that is obtained through learning and socialization processes (White, 1959; Weinstein, 1969) or as an acquired ability that relates neither to personal intellect nor to education (Foote & Cottrell, 1955; Holland & Baird, 1968). To both sides the ability increases as our awareness of relevant factors increases (Argyris, 1965a, 1965b).
In addition, ideally competent communicators should be able to control and manipulate their environment to attain personal goals. In order to maximize these personal goals, we must be able to identify these goals, get relevant information about them, accurately predict the other's responses, select communication strategies, implement these communication strategies, and accurately assess the interaction results (Parks, 1985, 1994).
A more systematic view of effectiveness in communication relates the concept to include both interactants. To be competent, we must not only feel we are competent, but our ability should be observed and confirmed by our counterparts. Thus, communication competence should be judged by our abilities to formulate and achieve objectives, to collaborate effectively with others, and to adapt to situational variations (Bochner & Kelly, 1974).
More recently, Rubin (1983) further considers communication competence to be a kind of impression based on our perception, an impression that forms of both our own and another's behaviors. Through this impression, we make guesses about interactants' internal states based on input from our counterpart.
Finally, Wiemann (1977) synthesizes the concept of communication competence from the perspective of effectiveness. He conceptualizes communicative competence as "the ability of an interactant to choose among available communicative behaviors in order that he ［sic］ may successfully accomplish his own interpersonal goals during an encounter while maintaining the face and line of his fellow interactants within the constraints of the situation" (p. 198). This definition simultaneously argues that competent communication is otheroriented, and that communicators have to successfully accomplish their own goals.
Whereas some scholars conceive of communication competence as a function of perceived effectiveness, others look at communication competence from the viewpoint of appropriateness. Wiemann and Backlund (1980) explain appropriateness in the communication process as follows:
Appropriateness generally refers to the ability of an interactant to meet the basic contextual requirements of the situationto be effective in a general sense.... These contextual requirements include: (1) The verbal context, that is, making sense in terms of wording, of statements, and of topic; (2) the relationship context, that is, the structuring, type and style of messages so that they consonant with the particular relationship at hand; and (3) the environmental context, that is, the consideration of constraints imposed on message making by the symbolic and physical environments. (p. 191)
The "appropriateness of behavior" thus implicates three kinds of ability: To recognize how context constrains communication in order to act and speak appropriately by combining our capabilities and social knowledge to recognize that different situations give rise to different sets of rules (Lee, 1979; Trenholm & Rose, 1981). Second, to avoid inappropriate responses. An inappropriate response is defined as "one which is unnecessarily abrasive, intense, or bizarre. It is also likely to result in negative consequences which could have been averted, without sacrifice of the goal, by more appropriate actions" (Getter & Nowinski, 1981, p. 303). Third, to fulfill communication functions such as controlling, sharing feelings, informing, ritualizing, and imagining appropriately (Allen & Wood, 1978). The authors extend Grice's (1975) study about the meaning of appropriateness in interaction to include: (1) Say just enoughnot too little or too much; (2) Don't say something that's falseor speak about something for which you lack evidence; (3) Relate your contribution to the topic and situation; and (4) Be clear about what you are saying, and say it 'with dispatch.' The meaning specifies the four elements of appropriate communication: quantity, quality, relevancy, and manner of message sending.
To summarize, communication competence requires appropriateness and "the fundamental criteria of appropriateness are that the interactants perceive that they understand the content of the encounter and have not had their norms and rules violated too extensively" (Spitzberg & Cupach, 1984, p. 101).
Definition of Intercultural Communication Competence
The literature treats intercultural communication competence in much the same way as the abovementioned intracultural definitions (Hammer, 1988; Lustig & Koester, 1993; Martin, 1989; Ruben, 1989; Spitzberg, 1988, 1989; Wiseman & Koester, 1993). The only difference is, in addition to looking at communication competence as effective and appropriate interaction, intercultural communication scholars place more emphasis on contextual factors. They conceive of communication competence not only as effective and appropriate interaction between people, but as effective and appropriate interaction between people who identify with particular physical and symbolic environments. This orientation resembles that of communication scholars who emphasize competence as a contextspecific behavior (Spitzberg & Cupach, 1984).
Although researchers conceive of communication competence as the ability to interact effectively and appropriately with others, their definitions betray, more or less, degrees of ambiguity, confusion, and imprecision. For example, from Wiemann's (1977) synthesized definition, the question arises: What constitutes "available behaviors" or "constraints of the situation?" These concepts are not clear, and require definition. To alleviate the problem in defining communication competence and to apply the concept to intercultural setting, intercultural communication competence can be conceived of as the ability to negotiate cultural meanings and to appropriately execute effective communication behaviors that recognize each other's multiple identities in a specific environment. This definition shows that competent persons must not only know how to interact effectively and appropriately with people and environment, but also know how to fulfill their own communication goals by respecting and affirming the multilevel cultural identities of the interactants.
Types of Competence
How do we interact across multiple cultural identities? Spitzberg and Cupach (1984) propose seven generic types of competence: fundamental competence, social competence, social skills, interpersonal competence, linguistic competence, communicative competence, and relational competence.
Fundamental competence focuses on our general abilities to adapt effectively to a new environment so that we can achieve our goals. In this sense, fundamental competence concerns the cognitive capacities needed for the individual communicator to be effective crosssituationally.
Social competence emphasizes our specific, rather than general, abilities. Spitzberg and Cupach enumerate including empathy, role taking, cognitive complexity, and interaction management that can account for social competence.
Interpersonal competence stresses our ability to accomplish tasks and to achieve goals through successful communication. Even though interpersonal ability assumes importance in both of the perspectives of fundamental competence and social competence, interpersonal competence concerns how we execute certain skills to control the environment in order to achieve goals in particular communication situations.
Linguistic competence and communicative competence relate to language and messages in the interaction process. Linguistic competence investigates how language is known properly. The concept stems from the work of Chomsky (1965).
Communicative competence emphasizes that we must not only know how to use language, but we also must execute our language knowledge appropriately. To be competent communicatively we must demonstrate the ability to convey messages appropriately in a given context of interaction.
Finally, the hybrid nature of relational competence combines many of the notions mentioned above. Of these emphases, independent and reciprocal processes of interaction rank as one of the most important aspects of relational competence. We must establish a certain degree of relationship with our counterparts before we can interact effectively and achieve our goals. Such relationships cross multiple dimensions of language, profession, ethnicity, and nation.
Spitzberg and Cupach's view of competence suggests a unitary and unchanging cultural identity. By contrast, we view culture as a set of preferences and possibilities that inform, more than determine, a given interaction. As communicators, we both shape and are shaped by these familiar meanings. Especially as we draw from multiple identities, our interaction may not perfectly resemble any one cultural expectation.
Approaches to the Study of Intercultural Communication Competence
To understand the mutual negotiation of cultural meanings in intercultural communication, Dinges (1983) and Collier (1989) have classified the study of intercultural communication competence into different approaches. Dinges (1983) provides six approaches to the study of intercultural communication competence: overseasmanship, subjective culture, multicultural person, social behaviorism, topology, and intercultural communicators approaches. The overseasmanship approach, first presented by Cleveland, Mangone and Adams (1960), identifies common factors in effective performance when we sojourn in another culture. A "sojourn" is an extended, nonpermanent stay abroad. To be competent, we must show the ability to convert lessons from a variety of foreign experiences into effective jobrelated skills.
The subjective culture (isomorphic attribution) approach requires us to display the ability to understand the causes of interactants' behaviors and reward them appropriately, and to modify suitably our behaviors according to the demands of the setting (Triandis, 1976, 1977). This ability to understand the reasons other cultures give for their behavior must be based on accurate cognition of the differences in cognitive structure between cultures.
The multicultural person approach emphasizes that a competent person must be able to adapt to exceedingly difficult circumstances by transcending usual adaptative limits (Adler, 1975, 1982). We must learn to move in and out of contexts, to maintenance coherence in different situations, and to be dynamic.
The social behaviorism (culture learning) approach emphasizes that successful intercultural coping strategies depend more on predeparture experiences, such as training and sojourning in another country, than on our inherent characteristics or personality (Guthrie, 1975). That is, to be competent we must learn discriminative stimuli to obtain social rewards, and to avoid punishments that would create hardship in intercultural interaction (David, 1972).
The typology approach develops different models of intercultural communication competence. Most of the models place sojourners' behavioral styles on to a continuum from most to least effective. For example, Brislin (1981) proposes that a successful intercultural interaction must be based on the sojourner's attitudes, traits, and social skills. Brislin claims nonethnocentrism and nonprejudicial judgments to be the major attitudes for effective intercultural interaction. Ethnocentrism is the judgment of an unfamiliar practice by the standards and norms familiar to us from our own culture. The major adaptive personal traits include personality strength, intelligence, tolerant personality, social relations, potential for benefit, and taskorientation. Lastly, social skills consist of knowledge of subject and language, positive orientation to opportunities, effective communication skills, and the ability to use personal traits to complete tasks.
Finally, the intercultural communicators approach emphasizes that successful intercultural interaction centers on communication processes among people from different cultures. In other words, to be competent we should show the ability to establish interpersonal relationship by understanding our counterparts through the effective exchange of verbal and nonverbal behaviors (Hall, 1959, 1966, 1976).
Collier (1989) classifies the study of intercultural communication competence into four categories: ethnography of speaking, crosscultural attitude, behavioral skills, and cultural identity. The ethnography of speaking approach assumes that meaning, conduct, and cultural membership are interdependent, thus, competence must be contextually defined (Geertz, 1973; Hymes, 1971, 1972). In order to achieve communication goals we must correctly perceive, select, and interpret the specific features of the code in interaction, and integrate these with other cultural knowledge and communication skills (SavilleTroike, 1982).
The crosscultural attitude approach assumes that understanding our counterpart's culture and developing a positive attitude towards the culture are key to conceiving communication competence across cultures. Studies from Chen (1989), Abe and Wiseman (1983), Gudykunst, Wiseman, and Hammer (1977), and Wiseman and Abe (1984) examine the concept from this perspective.
The behavioral skills approach assumes that "humans are goal directed and choice making beings, and that humans can distinguish between skills which will be effective and skills which will not be effective" in interaction (Collier, 1989, p. 294). Thus, competent persons must be able to identify and adopt those effective skills in intercultural interaction (Chen, 1992; Hammer, 1989; Ruben, 1976, 1977; Ruben & Kealey, 1979).
Finally, the cultural identity approach assumes that communication competence is a dynamic and emergent process in which interactants are able to improve the quality of their experience by recognizing the existence of each other's cultural identity (Collier, 1989; 1994; Cupach & Imahori, 1993). Thus, interculturally competent persons must know how to negotiate and respect meanings of cultural symbols and norms that are changing during the interaction (Collier & Thomas, 1988; Kim, 1994a). In addition, Ward and Searle (1991) find that cultural identity significantly affects our adaptation to a new culture.
Although these approaches provide useful perspectives to the study of intercultural communication competence, they fail to give a holistic picture that can reflect the "global civic culture" in which people can mutually negotiate their "multiple identities." To achieve this goal the following section attempts to synthesize these approaches into a model of intercultural communication competence.
A Model of Intercultural Communication Competence
After scrutinizing the existing approaches to the study of intercultural communication competence, we can synthesize them into a model of "interactivemulticulture building" (Belay, 1993). The model aims at promoting interactants' ability to acknowledge, respect, tolerate, and integrate cultural differences to be qualified for enlightened global citizenship. The model represents a transformational process of symmetrical interdependence that can be explained from three perspectives: (1) affective intercultural sensitivity, (2) cognitive intercultural awareness, and (3) behavioral intercultural adroitness.
The Affective Process Intercultural Sensitivity
The affective perspective of intercultural communication competence focuses on personal emotions or the changes in feelings that are caused by particular situations, people, and environments (Triandis, 1977). The affective process especially carries a notion that interculturally competent persons are able to project and receive positive emotional responses before, during, and after an intercultural interaction. The positive emotional responses will in turn lead to the acknowledgment and respect of cultural differences. This is the ability of intercultural sensitivity (Bennett, 1986; Bhawuk & Brislin, 1992; Chen & Tan, 1995; Gudykunst, TingToomey, & Wiseman, 1991).
Four personal attributes contribute to form the foundation of the affective perspective of intercultural communication competence: selfconcept, openmindedness, nonjudgmentalism, and social relaxation.
Selfconcept refers to the way in which we view ourselves. It not only serves as our key to communication, but it mediates how we relate to the world. One of the most important elements of self concept is selfesteem. Adler and Towne (1993) summarize research in this area: the communication behaviors of high selfesteem individuals and low selfesteem individuals differ significantly. Persons with high selfesteem, as opposed to persons with low selfesteem, more likely think well of others, are accepted by others, perform well when being watched, feel more comfortable when working with superiors, and can defend themselves against negative comments of others.
High selfesteem persons also feel more positively toward outgroup members. In an intercultural encounter, where we inevitably meet psychological stresses when trying to complete our jobs and to establish relationships with others, selfesteem helps us calculate whether we can fulfill a need or not (Brislin, 1981; Ehrlich, 1973; TingToomey, 1993).
Other aspects of selfconcept as well affect the results of intercultural communication. For instance, competent persons must have a good, optimistic outlook this instills confidence in interaction with others (Hawes & Kealey, 1979, 1981; Foote & Cottrell, 1955); must show a stable and extroverted personality (Gardner, 1962); and must show selfreliance, perseverance, and reliability (Harris, 1973; Smith, 1966). All these personality traits combine to cultivate a positive selfconcept that leads to intercultural communication competence (Chen, 1995a; Scollon & Scollon, 1995).
Openmindedness refers to the willingness to appropriately express ourselves openly and accept other's explanations. This positive emotion is parallel to the sentiment of the multicultural person who is willing to accept different patterns of life and to psychologically and socially accept a multiplicity of realities (Adler, 1977). In other words, openminded persons possess an internalized broadened concept of the world that enables them to understand an idea can be rendered in multiform ways (Bennett, 1986; Hart & Burks, 1972).
Ingrained in openmindedness is the willingness to recognize, appreciate, and accept different views and ideas in an intercultural interaction. Openmindedness motivates people to understand and acknowledge other people's needs and further transform such emotions to actions (Smith 1966; Yum, 1989). It is a process of mutual validation and confirmation of cultural identities that will foster a favorable impression in intercultural communication (TingToomey, 1989).
Being nonjudgmental develops an attitude that allows us to sincerely listen to others during intercultural communication. It at the same time allows other parties to be psychologically satisfied and happy that they have been listened to actively.
Mutual satisfaction of interactants is a measure of intercultural communication competence (Hammer, 1989; Ruben, 1988).
Being nonjudgmental and openminded nurtures a feeling of enjoyment of cultural differences in intercultural interactions. Interculturally competent persons not only need to acknowledge and accept cultural differences, but need to establish a sentiment of enjoyment which usually leads to a satisfactory feeling towards intercultural encounters (Chen & Tan, 1995). Three kinds of enjoyment in intercultural interactions that are necessary for being interculturally competent have been identified: (1) the enjoyment of interacting with people from different cultures (Randolph, Landis, & Tzeng, 1977), (2) the enjoyment of increasing good working relations with others from different cultures (Fiedler, Mitchell, & Triandis, 1971), and (3) the enjoyment of one's duties in another culture (Gudykunst, Hammer, & Wiseman, 1977).
Finally, social relaxation is the ability to reveal little anxious emotion in intercultural communication. It is assumed that a series of crises usually occur in the initial experience of sojourners in the host culture, and the feeling of anxiety usually originates from our psychological lack of security that results when we enter a new situation (Gudykunst & Hammer, 1988; Herman & Schield, 1961; Sanders & Wiseman, 1993; Stephan & Stephan, 1992).
The symptoms of social anxiety include undue perspiration, rocking movement, postural rigidity, speech disturbances, hesitations, and lowered response tendencies (Spitzberg & Cupach, 1984; Wiemann, 1977). To be competent in intercultural communication, we must surmount those "stumbling blocks" which include a feeling of anxiety that accompanies communication with those from different cultures (Barna, 1994).
These four personal attributes form the affective basis of intercultural communication competence. They enable us to be sensitive enough to acknowledge and respect cultural differences in intercultural interactions. They increase the level of our fitness and compatibility in a new cultural environment to alleviate the impact of culture shock (Kim, 1988, 1991; Kim & Gudykunst, 1988; Oberg, 1960; Smalley, 1963). In other words, they expedite the process of psychological adaptation by increasing our general psychological wellbeing, selfsatisfaction, and contentment within a new environment.
In general, psychological adaptation is typically associated with our ability to cope with situations such as frustration, stress, and alienation caused by the "social difficulties" due to cultural differences (Furnham & Bochner, 1982; Rogers & Ward, 1993). Much research has dealt with the ability to handle psychological stress in a new environment from the affective perspective of intercultural communication competence (Hammer, 1987; Hammer, Gudykunst, & Wiseman; 1978; Searle & Ward, 1990; Ward and Searle, 1991; Wiseman & Abe, 1984). However, this line of research needs to be extended to examine how can people identify their "multiple identities" in the process of psychological adaptation during intercultural encounters.
To summarize, affectively, intercultural communication competence demands a positive emotion which enables individuals to be sensitive enough to acknowledge and respect cultural differences in intercultural interactions. The affective process of intercultural communication process is built on four personal attributes: selfconcept, openmindedness, nonjudgmentalism, and social relaxation.
The Cognitive Process Intercultural Awareness
The cognitive perspective of intercultural communication competence emphasizes the changing of personal thinking about the environment through the understanding of the distinct characteristics of our and other's cultures (Triandis, 1977).
It is the process of reducing the level of situational ambiguity and uncertainty in intercultural interactions. With little visible discomfort, little confusion, and little nervousness in a new environment, we can adapt to situational demands with no noticeable personal, interpersonal, or group consequences and can cope with the changing environment rapidly and comfortably (Ruben, 1976; Ruben & Kealey, 1979).
The cognitive process of intercultural communication competence then provides an opportunity for us to develop an awareness of cultural dynamics, and to further discern multiple identities in order to maintain a state of multicultural coexistence. This is the ability of intercultural awareness that is comprised of two aspects of understanding: selfawareness and cultural awareness (Brislin, Landis, & Brandt, 1983; Gudykunst, TingToomey, & Wiseman, 1991; Pruegger & Rogers, 1993).
The implementation of conversationally competent behaviors in interaction requires selfawareness, the ability to monitor or to be aware of ourselves (Spitzberg & Cupach, 1984). Selfawareness facilitates competent intercultural communication and helps us adjust more smoothly to other cultures (Brislin, 1979; Gudykunst, 1993; Triandis, 1977). When we are high in selfawareness or selfmonitoring we stay particularly sensitive to our counterparts' expressions and selfpresentation, and know how to use these behavioral cues to accurately guide our own selfpresentation in intercultural communication (Berger & Douglas, 1982; Chen, 1995a; Gudykunst, Yang, & Nishida, 1987; Hammer, 1989).
The factors that account for selfawareness or selfmonitoring include: (1) concern with social appropriateness of one's selfpresentation, (2) attention to social comparison information as cues to situationally appropriate expressive selfpresentation, (3) the ability to control and modify our selfpresentation, (4) our use of this ability in particular situations, and (5) the modification of our expressive behavior and to meet the requirements of particular situations (Snyder, 1974, 1979, 1987). These factors play an important role in the process of intercultural communication (Gudykunst & TingToomey, 1988; Trubisky, TingToomey, & Lin, 1991).
Cultural awareness refers to understanding the conventions of our and other's cultures that affect how people think and behave. This includes the understanding of commonalities of human behavior and differences of cultural patterns. Based on the universal commonalities of human behavior such as eye contact, turntaking, gesturing, and the use of politeness norms, we begin to understand how people from diverse cultures adapt such universal pragmatives and resources to the unique expectations of intercultural communication settings (Bond, 1988; Brown, 1991; Fiske, 1992; John, 1990; Kiesler, 1983; Schwartz, 1990; Schwartz & Bilsky, 1987; Schwartz & Sagiv, 1995; Strack & Lorr, 1990; White, 1980). This process of cultural awareness promotes not only our understanding of cultural variability but also our positive emotion to search for a common ground of multicultural coexistence. A crosscultural understanding alerts as to those points where differences come into play.
Thus, understanding the dimensions of cultural variability provides ways for us to identify how communication differs across cultures. Important studies on the dimensions of cultural variability include Parsons' five pattern variables (1981), Kluckhohn and Strodbeck's five cultural value orientations (1960), Hall's highcontext and lowcontext cultures (1976), and Hofstede's four dimensions of cultural variability (1980).
Because each culture tends to favor a certain forms of processing the data around us, we constantly encounter problems in intercultural communication when we misunderstand such thought patterns. Therefore, to be effective in intercultural interaction we must first learn the preferences of a culture for supporting arguments and determining knowledge (Glenn & Glenn, 1981; Harris & Moran, 1987; Oliver, 1962). In other words, we must understand the differences of cultural variability in order to enable us to modify our communication patterns to be congruent with the cues of unfamiliar interactants (Hall, 1959; Hall & Whyte, 1963). Changing behaviors to be congruent with our counterparts helps us reach a mutual understanding and to maintain the multicultural coexistence. Many studies have tried to identify the cultural variability among different cultures (Althen, 1992; Barnlund & Yoshioka, 1990; Chang & Holt, 1991; L. Chen, 1993; Chen & Chung, 1994; Cocroft & TingToomey, 1994; Fitch, 1994; Goldman, 1994; Hecht, Sedano, & Ribeau, 1993; Ishii, 1992; Ishii & Bruneau, 1994; Kim & Wilson, 1994; Klopf, 1992; H. Ma, 1990; R. Ma, 1992; Marriott, 1993; Martin, Hecht, & Larkey, 1994; Stewart & Bennett, 1991; Suzuki & Rancer, 1994; TingToomey, 1991; White & Barnet, 1995).
Cultural awareness resembles the ideas of "cultural map" and "cultural theme" that emphasize the importance of cultural knowledge for competent intercultural communication (Kluckhohn, 1948; Turner, 1968). Kluckhohn asserts that cultural awareness requires understanding the "cultural map"; "if a map is accurate, and you can read it, you won't get lost; if you know a culture, you'll know your way around in the life of a society" (p. 28). Turner (1968) indicates that to be aware of a culture means to catch the "culture theme" the thread that goes through a culture and organizes a culture as a recognizable system. It acts as a guideline to people's thinking and behavior, and appears repeatedly in daily life.
The key components of a cultural map or a cultural theme that affect intercultural communication competence include social values, social customs, social norms, and social systems. Studies from Abe and Wiseman (1983), Chen (1989), Hammer, Gudykunst, and Wiseman (1978), Jain and Kussman (1994), Lustig and Koester (1993), Martin (1987, 1989), and Yum (1988) have shown that intercultural communication competence requires an understanding of these cultural components. As more than one cultural identity comes into play, maps are overlaid on other maps, and themes upon themes.
To summarize, we tend to be more competent in intercultural communication as we acquire a high degree of cultural awareness and selfawareness. Selfawareness is a search for personal identity, and cultural awareness for understanding of cultural variability. Both combine to provide a framework of being competent in the global society (Barnlund, 1994).
The Behavioral Process Intercultural Adroitness
The behavioral perspective of intercultural communication competence stresses how to act effectively in intercultural interactions. Intercultural adroitness, the ability to get the job done and attain communication goals in intercultural interactions comes into play. Intercultural adroitness corresponds to communication skills. It is comprised of those verbal and nonverbal behaviors that enable us to be effective in interactions. Such behaviors in intercultural communication include message skills, appropriate selfdisclosure, behavioral flexibility, interaction management, and social skills.
Message skills require that we acquire not only a knowledge of the host language, but also show the ability to use it. Competent intercultural communication begins with message skills, including linguistic competence that pertains to the knowledge of rules underlying the use of language (Chomsky, 1965), the ability to code skillfully and to create recognizable messages in the process of communication (Kim, 1994b; M. Kim, 1994; Milhouse, 1993; Parks, 1976; Weber, 1994), the understanding of the interactant's language, and the ability to recognize the meaning of nonverbal behavior (Andersen, 1994; Barna, 1994; Dolphin, 1994). Many studies have shown that fluency in the host language is the key element in effective intercultural interaction (Deutsch and Won, 1963; Giles, 1977; Martin & Hammer, 1989; Morris, 1960; Selltiz, Christ, Havel, & Cook, 1963; Sewell & Davidsen, 1956; TingToomey & Korzenny, 1989).
Besides language itself, message skills include the ability to use descriptive and supportive messages in the process of interaction. Descriptiveness means our use of concrete and specific feedback as opposed to our judgment of another's behaviors. Nonjudgmentalism helps us to avoid defensive reaction from our counterpart (Bochner & Kelly, 1974; Gibb, 1961; Hammer, 1989). Supportiveness is the sine qua non for effective communication. It requires us to know how to support others effectively and to reward them in communication by cues such as head nods, eye contact, facial expressions, and physical proximity (Parks, 1985, 1994; Ruben, 1976, 1977; 1988; Olebe & Koester, 1989; Spitzburg, 1991; Wiemann, 1977).
Messages skills are tempered by selfdisclosure which refers to willingness of individuals to openly and appropriately reveal information about themselves to their counterparts in intercultural interactions. "Appropriate" selfdisclosure varies among cultures, as does the list of topics, for persons at one or another level of intimacy, at a given level of hierarchy, sanctioned by the culture (Chen, 1995b; Nakanishi, 1987; Nakanishi & Johnson, 1993). In addition, selfdisclosure must be intentional, and information revealed to others must be significant and previously unknown to others (Adler & Towne, 1993). Appropriate selfdisclosure is one of the main elements for individual competence in communication which can lead to achievement of personal communication goals (Bochner & Kelly, 1974; Spitzburg, 1991).
The contextual ambiguity common to interactions with people from different cultures produces a predictably high level of uncertainty (Gudykunst, 1985). Reduction of the uncertainty level can often be achieved through mutual selfdisclosure. Studies have demonstrated appropriate selfdisclosure to be one of the components of intercultural communication competence, especially regarding depth and breadth of selfdisclosure (Chen, 1989, 1990, 1993a). This finding helps to illustrate the social penetration model wherein relationships develop from superficial to more personal levels through the personal level through the depth and breadth of information individuals disclose to their counterparts (Altman & Taylor, 1973; Gudykunst & Nishida, 1983, 1986; Knapp, 1978).
Behavioral flexibility indicates the ability to select an appropriate behavior in different contexts and situations (Bochner & Kelly, 1974). This concept comprises creativity or flexibility dimension of communication competence. Behaviorally flexible persons must demonstrate the abilities of accuracy and adaptability when attending to information, and must be able to perform different behavioral strategies in order to achieve communication goals (Parks, 1985).
Behavioral flexibility is considered a dimension of intercultural communication competence (Chen, 1992; Imahori & Lanigan, 1989; Martin, 1987, Martin & Hammer, 1989; Ruben, 1991, 1977; Spitzburg, 1994; Wiemann, 1977). We express behavioral flexibility through verbal immediacy cues, in which we know how to use different kinds of intimate verbal behaviors to establish interpersonal relationships. Moreover, behaviorally flexible persons must be good at "the alternation and cooccurrence of specific speech choices which mark the status and affiliative relationships of interactants" (Wiemann, 1977, p. 199).
Interaction management refers to the ability to speak in turn in conversation and to initiate and terminate the conversation appropriately. It deals with the ability of individuals to structure and maintain the procedure of a conversation (Spitzberg & Cupach, 1984). This implies knowing how to develop a topic smoothly in interaction.
Individuals with good interaction management skills allow all participants the chance to contribute to the discussion. Interaction management is one of the major dimensions for being competent in intercultural communication (Chen, 1989; Ruben & Kealey, 1979; Olebe & Koester, 1989; Spitzburg, 1994).
In a similar vein, to be effective in interaction, we must realize: (1) interruptions are not permitted, (2) only one person may talk at a time, (3) speaker's turns should appropriately interchanged, and (4) speakers should pay full attention to their counterparts (Wiemann, 1977). However, Wiemann's standards appear to be based on European conventions, since African and African American interaction regulation allows two speakers to talk at one time, at least briefly, to shift between speakers (Sanders, 1995). Moreover, "callandresponse" may be falsely interpreted by EuroAmericans as an "interruption," whereas it actually represents the cocreation of messages. Communication skills similarly include social skills such as empathy and identity maintenance. Empathy has been long recognized as a central element for being effective in interpersonal communication. We practice empathy when we project ourselves into another person's point of view to momentarily think the same thoughts and feel the same emotions as the other person (Adler & Towne, 1993). Empathy allows us to sense what is inside the another's mind or to step into another person's moccasins. Others call it "affective sensitivity" (Campbell, Kagan, & Drathwohl, 1971), "telepathic or intuition sensitivity" (Gardner, 1962), or "perspectivetaking" (Parks, 1976).
Empathic persons must be able to demonstrate the ability to accurately predict or discriminate their counterpart's behavior or internal states (Parks, 1994). In other words, highly empathic individuals usually respond accurately to another's feelings and thoughts in intercultural communication (Chen, 1992; Chen & Tan, 1995; Ruben, 1976, 1977). The skill of empathy also includes reciprocity of affect displays, verbal response showing understanding, and active listening. It is viewed as one of the elements that produces intercultural communication competence (Bennett, 1979, 1986; Gudykunst, 1993; Hwang, Chase, & Kelly, 1980; Yum, 1988).
Identity maintenance allows us to maintain our counterpart's identity. Because the need to learn who we are prompts us to communicate with others, competent persons not only need to understand themselves in interaction but also need to inform their counterparts who they are. Thus, in order to achieve smooth interaction, competent persons must know how to maintain their counterparts' identity. We usually learn the ability of identity maintenance through our experience, and the use of identity maintenance skills must vary with different situations and different personal goals (Collier, 1989; Parks, 1976; TingToomey, 1989; 1993), and with movement from one salient identity to another.
To summarize, we become more competent in intercultural communication as we possess a high degree of intercultural adroitness which is acquired from these communication skills: message skills, appropriate selfdisclosure, behavioral flexibility, interaction management, and social skills. The behavioral perspective of intercultural communication competence emphasizes the ability to act effectively to achieve the goal of multicultural interdependence and interconnectedness in the global village.
The three perspectives of intercultural communication competence model are the three lines of an equilateral triangle. They are equally important and inseparable to form a holistic picture of intercultural communication competence. The model integrates different approaches to the study of intercultural communication competence specified by scholars (Collier, 1989; Dinges, 1983). It provides a guideline for the future research in this area.
Critique and Directions for Future Research
Since the germination of the field of intercultural communication in early 1950s, communication scholars have continued to search for a more appropriate model to explain the concept of intercultural communication competence. After four decades efforts, communication scholars have produced an abundance of literature in this line of research. Unfortunately, the literature is still fragmentary and lacks a holistic view of the concept. Conceptually, scholars in the area of intercultural communication competence are unable to provide a consistent framework for understanding the notion of interdependence and interconnectedness of the complex multicultural dynamics in the contemporary age.
Operationally, they fail to provide a clear direction for the development of a valid and reliable intercultural communication competence instrument that is appropriate to the situation of this global society.
The problem originates from the lack of a proper interpretation of global interactional processes. The trends of technology development, globalization of the economy, widespread population migrations, development of the multiculturalism, and the demise of the nation state in form of sub and supranational identification have shrunk and multiculturalized the world in which the traditional perception on "self" and "other" must be redefined.
The global context of human communication requires us to abridge the boundary between "me" and "her/him," and "us" and "them," and to develop a personality of "multiple identities" to pursue a state of "multicultural coexistence." Although a few researchers have shown interest in this line of research (Casmir, 1993; Collier, 1989; Collier & Thomas, 1988; Hecht & Ribeau, 1991; Starosta & Olorunnisola, 1995), the study of intercultural communication must proceed to this direction one step further.
In addition to this philosophical issue, the study of intercultural communication encounters yet other problems. The following singles out those specific ones scholars have to solve in their future research.
In the conceptual level intercultural communication competence scholars must face five challenges:
First, when the concept of intercultural communication competence grows more sophisticated, it becomes confused with the definition of the term "competence." Argument continues as to whether competence is an inherent ability (trait) or a learned ability (state). Although we propose that competence refers to the strength of personal attributes and to communication skills, future research still needs to figure out whether both trait and state can be treated separately or must be considered together when accounting for competence.
The second challenge for comprehending communication competence centers on whether competence refers to the interactant's knowledge or performance. Chomsky (1965) considers competence to be simply the knowledge of the speakerhearer's language, and Phillips (1983) considers Chomsky's competence as merely the first step toward communication competence. He conceives of competence as the understanding of a new situation and its requirements. Both treat competence as an individual's knowledge. Although McCroskey (1982) and Spitzburg (1983) further identify a distinction among motivation, knowledge, and skills for the conceptualization communication competence, the existing definitions still suffer from a degree of incompleteness, especially when we apply the concept to intercultural settings in which we have to consider that the process of communication demands not only situational knowledge, but behavioral skills as well. Future research ought to include both knowledge and performance as elements of intercultural communication competence.
Third, the confusion between effectiveness and competence must be resolved to arrive at the concept of communication competence. Many scholars (e.g., Hammer, Gudykunst, & Wisemann, 1978; Ruben, 1988) use "effectiveness" instead of "competence." Others use "effectiveness" and "competence" interchangeably (e.g., Ruben, 1976, 1977; Ruben & Kealey, 1979). The usage must be crystallized in future studies. Obviously, the term "competence" is preferable, especially in an intercultural communication setting. We have indicated that effectiveness is only one of two variables for conceptualizing competence. The second variable, "appropriateness," plays a role of equal significance. In other words, to be competent in an intercultural interaction, individuals must communicate effectively and appropriately.
Fourth, a culturegeneral vs. culturespecific approach for the study of intercultural communication competence continues to be a unsolved problem. Most of the existing research on intercultural communication competence orients to the culturegeneral approach. The current trend in this line of research strongly demands the balance between the two approaches. Recent studies, for instance, have begun to examine communication competence from the Chinese, Indian, Japanese, and Korean perspectives (Chen, 1993b; Hegde, 1993; Miyahara, 1993; Yum, 1993). A coherent theme used by these authors to conceptualize communication competence is "harmony" which seemingly penetrates into most Asian cultures. Studying intercultural communication competence from a culturespecific perspective in order to find a common theme of cultures may shed a new light to the field.
Finally, the application of intercultural communication competence is mainly confined to the intercultural adaptation process of sojourning in a new culture. We suggest that the scope of intercultural communication cannot be divorced from the full scale of communication environment of the global civic culture which can be conceptualized in interpersonal, interpersonal, group, organizational, national, and supranational levels.
In the operational level, we have to face three challenges. First, we have to clarify: Where does intercultural communication competence reside? Ruben (1989) proposes three alternatives for this question: (1) The message sender alternative claims that competence is what an individual displays or possesses. (2) The message receiver alternative claims that competence is based on the evaluation of message receiver, no matter what does the sender possesses.(3) The dyadic, systemic, or culturebased alternative claims that competence is based on relational, social, or cultural rules instead of on an individual like the sender or the receiver. The Western culture orientation to the study of intercultural communication competence tends to focus on the first two alternatives. Other cultures, like Asian cultures, seem focus more on the third alternative. For instance, the measurement of communication competence from the Japanese culture perspective seems to focus on the concept of "group" as a unit of analysis (Miyahara, 1994), and the Korean culture tends to observe communication competence from an interpersonal rather than an individual point of view (Yum, 1994).
Second, we must decide: How must intercultural communication competence be assessed? Use of a selfreport scale, otherreport scale, or the two together remains possible. If intercultural communication competence contains personal attributes and behavioral skills, then both self and otherreport methods should be used. Yet, while the use of both methods in combination assures the external validity of the data, it becomes difficult to bridge any discrepancy between the self and otherreport measures unless a more acceptable scale is created. This problem becomes critical in an intercultural communication setting. For example, people from different cultures may have different perceptions or attitudes toward the process in the study including items of the scale and the way to operate it (Campbell, 1969; Klopf & Cambra, 1983; Martin, 1993).
Third and finally, what should be measured for intercultural communication competence? Although this article proposes three perspectives that can be used as a guidepost to measure intercultural communication competence, we can clearly see that the existing literature of intercultural communication competence strongly reflects the Eurocentric point of view. The Western bias has caused a reliance on the positivism tradition which in turn identifies a set of Westernorientation elements of intercultural communication competence.
We urge that future study should try to discover more or different elements to account for intercultural communication competence from a nonWestern culture perspective. For instance, instead of following the above components of intercultural communication competence, Chen (1994) proposes that the four elements of communication competence from the Chinese culture perspective include the ability to control one's emotion, to express one's feeling indirectly, to save other's face, and to recognize distinct ingroupoutgroup relationships. Similarly, Yum (1994) also provides five elements that can be used to measure communication competence from the Korean culture perspective: empathy, sensitivity, indirectness, being reserved, and transcendentality. Thus, an instrument that is sufficient for the measurement of intercultural communication competence may have to account for multiple voices, multiple competencies, and multiple identities.
Summary and Conclusion
As we encounter ever greater cultural and cocultural diversity, our careful study of intercultural communication competence becomes increasingly important. Only with mastery of intercultural communication competence can persons from different cultures communicate effectively and appropriately. This is why Sitaram and Cogdell (1976) proclaim that "all people of the world should study intercultural communication." This dictum, while broad, emphasizes the necessity of learning more about ourselves and members of other cultures.
While communication competence has been studied for many years, its application to intercultural interaction continues to evolve. This article extracts three perspectives on intercultural communication competence from the existing literature. We consider how the variable "competence" fits the intercultural setting. The six types of competence discussed in this article include fundamental, social, interpersonal, linguistic, communicative, and relational competence. These types of competence can be treated as interdependent dimensions of communication competence. We also argue the inseparability of culture and communication competence.
These approaches to the study of intercultural communication competence lead us to a threeperspective model of intercultural communication competence: (1) the affective process represents the ability of intercultural sensitivity which is promoted through positive selfconcept, openmindedness, nonjudgmental, and social relaxation, (2) the cognitive perspective represents the ability of cultural awareness which includes selfawareness and the understanding of our own and our counterparts' cultures, and (3) the behavioral perspective represents the intercultural adroitness which is based on message skills, appropriate selfdisclosure, behavioral flexibility, interaction management, and social skills.
Directions for future research in this line of research are also proposed. The discussions focus on the conceptual and operational problems scholars must face.
In conclusion, the indispensability of intercultural communication competence in the upcoming global society strongly demands that communication scholars enhance the functions of the concept and expand the scope of the area. The functions of intercultural communication competence should be extended to deal with the multiple identities of individuals in this interdependent and interconnected network of global society. The scope of intercultural communication competence should penetrate different levels of intercultural communication to ensure an integration of various demands in terms of culture, ethnicity, race, gender, and religion. This transformational process indicates a functional and theoretical reorientation for the study of intercultural communication competence (Taylor, 1994).
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