Cultural Differences in Communication


The American Speech Language Hearing Association emphasizes the importance of Speech-Language Pathologists having both cultural and linguistic competence in the profession. ASHA goes on to explain that whereas human nature is inherited, cultural competence is learned.

Research shows that half of all information shared is communicated nonverbally. Research also shows that use of nonverbal communication is shaped by the cultural backgrounds we are raised within. Use of eye contact, facial expressions and views of personal space vary significantly by culture.

Cultural upbringing also molds the views people have of family, gender roles, child-rearing practices, disclosure of health information, value of education, and time management. Cultural upbringing defines our verbal communication as well, especially in regard to the views people possess of initiating and turn-taking in conversation.

Research shows that with service related fields, when clients view themselves as similar to their health care providers both culturally and linguistically, the provider-patient relationship is strengthened. Understanding the importance of developing cultural competence through an analysis of self-awareness and cultural humility ensures that people appreciate and acknowledge cultural similarities and differences.

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