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CULTURE, BELIEFS and TRADITIONS as

Barriers to Effective Communication

July 17, 2018

ANTIQUINA, Wilson Francis


DEFIÑO, Beatriz Jane
DELOS SANTOS, Ezekiel Ian Gabrielle
DINONG, Shane Patrick Aaron
GANAL, Mica Bianca
MARANAN, Norie Anne
PANSOY, Angela
Culture is all socially transmitted behavior, arts, architectures, languages, signs,
symbols, ideas, beliefs, norms, traditions, rituals, etc. which is learnt and shared in a
particular social group of the same nationality, ethnicity, religion and more. It is handed
down from one generation to another. It gives people their way of seeing the world and
interpreting life and one single culture has many sub-cultures. According to Joynt &
Warner (1996) Culture is the pattern of taken-for-granted assumptions about how a
given collection of people should think, act, and feel as they go about their daily affairs.
Culture is important to us because it defines our evolutionary identity. Culture helps us
understand our ancestral values and gives us the very meaning of life. It also makes us
unique from other parts of the world. Cultural diversity makes communication difficult as
the mindset of people of different cultures are different, the language, signs and
symbols are also different because different cultures have different meaning of words,
behaviors and gestures. Culture also gives rise to prejudices, ethnocentrism, manners
and opinions. Culture is considered as one of the barriers to effective communication.
Beliefs, traditions, religion, ethnocentrism, and stereotypes are also some other factors
that affects effective communication. Beliefs are usually referred to as an acceptance
that something exists or is true, especially one without proof. Meanwhile Tradition is a
belief or behavior passed down within a group or society with symbolic meaning or
special significance within origins in the past. According to some anthropologists,
ethnocentrism means that one may see his or her own culture as the correct way of
living. It is one of the process of dividing cultures as “us” and “them”. Religion is also
defined as a set of beliefs that is held by a group of people. While stereotype is an over-
generalized belief about a particular category of people. So these are the factors that
affects effective communication. These are the barriers that hinders us to communicate
effectively with other people and usually results with misunderstanding.

Cultural barriers is when people of different cultures are unable to understand


each other’s customs, resulting in inconveniences and difficulties. They may also be
unable to communicate with colleagues at work, leading to trouble and
misunderstanding. Another cultural barrier would be the customs and practices of a
person’s culture. In Greece, you nod your head to say “no” and shake your head to say
“yes”. A Greek person living in almost anywhere else may run into some major
misunderstandings. People coming from different countries may not find comfort in
communicating easily with one another. When people from different countries come
together, their way of thinking varies. Some might be shy to communicate, while others
are open for communication. There are differences in their cultural backgrounds, there
are also some differences in their upbringing, due to which there's a difference in their
views and beliefs. Even the communication etiquette differs across the different
countries, it is really difficult to start a communication. Language is one cultural barrier
that is observed in people coming from different parts of the world. Many of us hesitate
to communicate with a foreigner because we are unable to understand his language or
accent. For example, an Asian may not feel comfortable talking to an Australian,
because of his/her heavy English accent. When we join a group and we wish to remain
in it, sooner or later we need to adopt the behavior patterns of the group. These are the
behaviors that the group accept as signs of belonging. The group rewards such
behavior through acts of recognition approval and inclusion. However there are still
barriers even if the two sides are in a good positive relationship.

Being from different religions or castes can act as a barrier to communicate on a


personal or professional level. Sometimes, a person may feel uncomfortable
communicating with people from other religions. This is mainly because of the
difference in the beliefs they share. Religious views impact the way one thinks and can
lead to differences of opinion. But one must understand the reasons behind these
differences and tackle them carefully. If this is done, religion would no longer remain a
cultural barrier to communication. However, due to globalization and spread of
education, the negative impact of this kind of barrier seems to be decreasing. Having a
different belief/religion among others may lead to an ineffective communication. Religion
also disrupts communication as it creates a specific image of people who follow other
religions. For example, in Pakistan, the Christians have to speak up for their rights as
the majority is of Islam and the Christians are discriminated. There is also a lack of
communication between these religious groups. People find it difficult to talk to people
who follow different religions. Religious views influence how people think about others.
It creates differences in opinions. If 2 people are talking about a certain or specific topic
related to their beliefs/religion, the 2 will argue because they do not have the same
sentiments on the topic, thus, a barrier to effective communication appears.

Ethnocentrism is one of the cultural barriers of communication. Since we all have


different races, it is not easy to share ideas that everyone will agreed on. According to
Summer (1906), Ethnocentrism is the view of one’s culture is better than anyone else’s
culture. As a practice, it consists of evaluating other cultures from his or her perspective.
This may lead to a bias understanding and close-mindedness which wrongly shows
superiority above other cultures. It’s like restraining another person’s ideas because you
believe that your culture is far better than theirs. You tend to judge another culture as
bad or wrong because you are aligned with your own beliefs. It is also one of the major
reason for cultural diversity since it separates different cultures, traditions, and beliefs
from one another.

Is religion really a barrier when it comes to communication? We don’t know the


correct answer. But I believe, that it is. A lot of people out there, having a hard time
accepting the traditions and beliefs of a one religion. Let me give an example, a real
one. My family is a Roman Catholic, basically we are all catholic so my family believes
that if you are catholic you should marry a catholic as well. But unfortunately my sister
met a boy which is not catholic so, when they plan to get marry my father wants them to
get married at church but my kuya Darrel (ate’s boyfriend) wants to marry with a pastor.
But of course my father’s decision is final so they have no choice to accept it and get
married at church with a father. So it is already a barrier, having a hard time accepting
the religion’s tradition. Another example, I asked my friend which is a member of INC or
Iglesia ni Kristo, I ask him about some rules in their religion, I discovered that in INC or
Iglesia ni Kristo, you are not allowed to have a relationship with another religion, you
can only get one if you guys are the same INC or Iglesia ni Kristo, or maybe if you really
love the person, you need to convert your religion There is a lot of barrier when it comes
to religion specially in communication, sometimes the two sides does not agree to one
another, that’s why sometimes again there is no good communication between the two.
In the two examples that I gave, it is definitely talking about the barriers in religion when
it comes to communication. The two sides did not have good communication because of
their religion, beliefs and traditions. Another example, you are the type of person that
praising God, worshipping, loving God with all of your heart, but then suddenly you met
an opposite of you. The one who is not believing in God, does not care about God and
definitely doesn’t love God. The two of you talk about religion, basically you both will not
have a good communication because you are both opposite when it comes to that. So
that is already a barrier in religion.

We are all stereotypes we all have done it even with conscious or unconscious
thought. Stereotype it has a factor or it is one of the barriers in effective communication.
“Don’t judge a book by its cover” it is a saying that has something to do with
stereotyping. We people fond of judging other people we don’t know yet by its gender,
color, and specially his/her Appearance. And by aggressively judging them it leads to
break down of effective communication. For example: you saw a girl/boy that wears an
improper clothing, again because we are all stereotypes consciously or not we will judge
them. We will think that they are less intelligent. They have bad motives, etc and that
you as a person you will not bother to talk to him/her properly that you can call an
effective communication. In that way you just label a person by its appearance that
hinders you obtain an effective communication.

In order to overcome the barrier in communication that is caused by culture, we


need to eliminate the causes of cultural barriers as much as possible. One example is
having a Cross-cultural communication, According to businesstopia.com, it doesn't just
lessen the barrier but it may also be an opportunity to be creative, to see new
perspectives, and to be open into new ideas. Some ways were listed by
customerthink.com on how to overcome cultural barriers in the workplace and these
are, Do the work about learning about the stereotypes and breaking them down to your
behavior. Acknowledge the difference between business need and personal preference.
Learn about different cultures. To sum it all up Cultural barriers may be overcome by
being open to things that aren't in your comfort zone, to things that are not what you're
used to.
Links/References:

1. https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-meaning-of-cultural-barriers
2. https://study.com/academy/lesson/what-are-cultural-barriers-to-
communication-in-the-workplace-definition-examples-quiz.html
3. https://www.businesstopia.net/communication/cultural-barriers-
communication
4. https://socialmettle.com/cultural-barriers-to-effective-communication