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The world is a small village. Intercultural communication

The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow, Bill Gates.

In the globalized world that is ours, maybe we are moving towards a global village, but that global village brings in a lot of different people, a lot of different ideas, lots of different backgrounds, lots of different aspirations, Lakhdar Brahimi.

The term was coined by Marshall McLuhan and refers to information and communication technologies (the Internet, mass media, and social networks) that have shortened distances among people. We live in a world where information can be exchanged easily and it is also increasingly interconnected, what happens “there” affects things over “here” and vice-versa. For example, the subprime mortgage crisis in the USA spilled over into the world’s financial markets and real economies.

smallVillage

smallVillage

What shall we do about it?

  1. The sense of time. It is a scarce resource for western countries, time is money. It must be rationed, controlled, and well managed. For other cultures, time is a flexible resource, it should be subordinated to being kind, friendly and polite to others.
time-1

time-1

  1. Physical contact. Depending on the culture and the intimacy between people, a greeting can be a handshake, a hug, a kiss, two or three kisses, a nose rub, etc. We are hard-wired to need touch, especially in the earliest development stages, and to be connected to others. However, some people can feel very uncomfortable when they are touched.

Asian people don’t like been touched and kissed by strangers, many people use shaking hands or a slight bow as a greeting instead; some women don’t like people touching their pregnant bellies and some African-Americans dislike people touching their hair.

PhysicalContact

PhysicalContact

  1. Silence: Talking is the only right way to communicate in western countries, silence is almost intolerable. However, other cultures value silence. It is advocated over redundancy, rude language, and idle talk.
speachSilence

speachSilence

  1. Eye contact. This is a sign of confidence and sincerity in western culture. Direct eye contact is indeed culture specific. Some cultures view direct eye contact as indicating hostility, rudeness, anger, and even sexual harassment.
eyeContact-1

eyeContact-1

  1. Physical appearance. Muslim women are required to cover themselves. For instance, wearing a veil is compulsory in some Islamic countries.
veil

veil

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