My Friend is a Palestinian Bedouin: VI. Cultural Differences and the Intercultural Encounter

My Friend is a Palestinian Bedouin: VI. Cultural Differences and the Intercultural Encounter

These cultural differences in communication may produce misunderstandings and sometimes hardships. For example, in a conflict ridden Israeli-Palestinian encounter, it was found that in the Israeli group there was a predominance of an interruptive style of communication, while in the Palestinian group the communication style was non-interruptive. When Palestinians and Israelis met together, the Israeli interruptive style of communication domineered over the Palestinian non-interruptive style. Nevertheless, divergent communication styles underwent a process of change and Israelis became less interruptive and Palestinian interrupted more than when each group was by itself (Zupnik, 2000). It seems that some communication styles are more accepted in some cultures than in others and some communication styles may be more domineering than others.

Effective communication with people of other cultures requires “cultural intelligence”, a combination of emotional/motivational aspects, culture specific knowledge and other cognitive aspects, and cross-cultural behavioral skills (Earley & Ang, 2003; Thomas et al., 2008). Programs were developed to improve intercultural competence in the fields of education (Penbek et al., 2009; Spajić-Vrkaš, 2009; Zhang & Merolla, 2007), social work (Gilin & Young, 2009; Tesoriero, 2006), counseling (Maoz, 2000b) and business (Antal & Friedman, 2008; Cheney, 2001). Many of these programs incorporate the idea of placing students temporarily in a foreign culture. There also is a series of studies on preparation of managers and others for living in another culture. Most of these are based on the principles of awareness of cultural difference, knowledge of the other culture and the acquirement of cultural coping skills (Hofstede, 2001; Ward et al., 2001).


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About the Author

Daniel WeishutDaniel J.N. Weishut, born in the Netherlands but living in Jerusalem, is a professional with a diverse background. He holds an MA in Clinical Psychology and an MBA in Integrative Business Administration, both from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and a PsyD in Clinical and Organizational Psychology from the Professional School of Psychology (Sacramento). He has about thirty years of experience in consultation and therapy with a wide variety of clients and issues, more than twenty years of practice in group facilitation, and over fifteen years of know-how in governance and management in various organizations. Daniel Weishut offers his services as a "Partner on the Way", while taking a world-view that people are diverse but equal. He works with a variety of clients, but his special interest is in work with those who have found themselves persecuted or otherwise in conflict with their social environment, because of their culture, identity or belief system. For example: migrants, expats, refugees, Holocaust survivors, soldiers, pacifists, and individuals from religious, cultural or sexual minorities. Daniel Weishut is a social activist and in this capacity he volunteers as Chairperson of the Israeli Association of Group Psychotherapy, as Member of the Membership Appeals Committee of Amnesty International and as forensic expert for the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel. He also is involved in raising awareness about the situation of Bedouins around Jerusalem; awareness which led among others to the writing of his dissertation "My friend is a Palestinian Bedouin: Challenges and opportunities in intercultural friendship".

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