Cultural and social misunderstanding, how stereotypes have there way, pt 2
In the context of intercultural interaction and communication stereotypes, ethnocentrism and prejudices are the contributing factors of intercultural conflicts and misunderstandings. Misunderstanding occurs when we project cognitive similarities, our assumptions that others hold the same meaning about objects, symbols or icons. The assumption that you and that other person or group holds the same meanings to be true does not promote understanding. Cultural norms are often believed to be universal by many and when they encounter others that are deviating from expected behavior the person can be insulted and altercations can occur. In order to counter misunderstandings that extend from these projections a communicator should take a step back and acknowledge that although we share many similarities our communication is contextual and situational. Because we are entering a new situation or different context we should not make implicit assumptions about meanings and should observe, question and ask for clarification so that we are not lead into misunderstanding or conflict.
Over-generalizing about a particular group has a long historical background in which many people have been abused, segregated, chastened or marginalized because of those generalizations turning into negative stereotypes that become common held beliefs about those groups. These stereotypes often begin as what may appear as a benign comment like saying that all Asians are great at math, but that stereotype may in itself place an undue burden on an Asian that does not excel in math. Or also in turn create the expectation that if you are not Asian you are not qualified for a job that requires advanced mathematical skills. Stereotypes can cause a wide array of damages. In an effort to reduce intercultural misunderstanding Hall (2005) posits that we engage in avoiding, accommodating, competing, compromising and collaborative styles as our way of dealing and managing conflict in intercultural communications.