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There are several limitations I face when attempting to negotiate shared meanings within my own societal system and that of another’s. According to Ting-Toomey and Chung, symbolic exchanges of verbal and nonverbal uses between any two individuals during the process of their interdependent nature unfortunately, more often than not, are filled with misunderstandings and second guesses because of language problems, communication style differences, and value-orientation differences. Trying to avoid face to face encounters makes little difference now in the 21st century. My limits in intercultural communication are still exposed when I e-mail, Facebook, Snapchat, You-tube, or text in any given communication situation because I lack an ethno-relative mindset. I usually stay stuck in my own cultural worldviews and values when I evaluate another person’s cultural behavior. Therefore, I could easily identify myself as the inflexible cultural member of the exchange process who is in dire need of evaluating his knowledge, attitude, and skills for communicating culturally.
Our own chief diplomat of the United States, President Trump, recently has had to do the same before meeting with world leaders like Kim Jong Un of North Korea and Vladimir Putin of Russia, as well as those that attended the NATO summit. Considering the limitations one can face in intercultural communication, I know now more than ever the vital importance of developing an open mind with an attentive heart, a willingness to suspend an ethnocentric judgment with a receptive and responsive attitude and adapt those abilities into intercultural practice. Even within his own culture, Trump has done the same as I have and lacked appropriateness while communicating; especially, during and after the 2016 election. The Journal of Social and Political Psychology would agree that namely Trump’s disapproval rating was the result of the salience of restrictive communication norms. Evaluating proper or improper exchanged behaviors in every culture and its subcultures that generate their own set of expectations is extremely difficult; however, practice makes perfect!
The same criteria within the practice of intercultural flexibility applies the same if not more so for the Christian sharing the Gospel of Christ. Ting-Toomey and Chung said it takes a well-balanced heart to move beyond the practices of both cultures and utilize a third-culture approach to sensitively bridge the cultural differences. Only the Holy Spirit can grant such a heart in my belief. As Paul did, I should willingly compete with myself for a reward and run my race to obtain an imperishable crown, not against others but for the sake of the Gospel; to discipline my body and subject to preaching God’s word to all by becoming all things to all men that I might by all means save some (1 Corinth. 9:16-27). That means flexing my communication muscles and intentionally interacting competently through a diverse cultural setting.