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).