Overcoming Barriers to Intercultural Communication

During cultural events such as the Day of the Dead, people need to communicate despite their cultural differences. However, there are some barriers such as anxiety, differences, ethnocentrism, and stereotypes that may halt communication. Such barriers can be overcome to foster communication among people from different cultures during the event.

I would overcome anxiety during the event by getting to learn about other cultures. Anxiety is a fear that comes along when interacting with people of other cultures usually resulting from discomfort (Strauss &Young, 2011). People from all manners of cultures attend the Day of the Dead. Getting to know a glimpse of practices from different cultures will enable me to eliminate the fear that anxiety that might prevent me from interacting with them. Anxiety comes from fear of the unknown. For instance, if my culture values time a lot and someone else’s does not, I must understand why the difference and what do they value. This way, I will be able to overcome cultural differences and communicate freely.

Focusing on similarities rather than differences is another way to counter intercultural communication barriers. Different cultures not only possess differences but also similarities. Focusing on the similarities will unite us and thus communication will be made easier. For example, cultures at the picnic believe that honoring the dead gives them peace, and the same cultures have mixed reactions when it comes to ways of honoring them. In such a case I would focus on the reason for honoring the dead rather than how. It gives me room to interact freely with one another.

Ethnocentrism is an intercultural communication barrier that can be overcome by avoiding being self-centered and appreciating other people’s cultures. Ethnocentrism means a person viewing their culture as superior to others’ cultures (Bizumic & Duckitt, 2012). Appreciating other people’s culture is crucial in this case. For instance, during the dead picnic, whether I agree with the present cultures or not, I must appreciate their culture if I am to foster communication. I can do this by respecting the decisions other cultures make as well as my culture. Furthermore, being culture literate will help me not just view my culture alone as superior but also other cultures.

I can overcome stereotyping and prejudice in such a picnic by viewing a person individually and judging their actions as a person but not as a group. In other words, voiding hasty generalization. This is because behaviors across cultures have been generalized which is wrong because not all members of society behave in a certain manner. Also, my feeling towards a person should be based on the practices that a person does, not the whole society. For instance, if a certain culture is associated with a lack of respect and I come across a person from that culture during the picnic, I will not make preconceived judgments that the person is disrespectful. I will engage in a conversation with the person and it might turn out that the person has a very high degree of respect. Thus, avoiding preconceived judgments and beliefs towards other cultures is vital.

The above-discussed barriers can be countered thereby making communication across cultures possible. Some ways of overcoming these barriers include learning about other cultures, appreciating them, focusing on similarities rather than differences, and avoiding making preconceived judgments or hasty generalization. By this, I will be able to interact with all manner of people during the event.


Bizumic, B., & Duckitt, J. (2012). What is and is not ethnocentrism? A conceptual analysis and political implications. Political Psychology33(6), 887-909. DOI:10.1111/j.1467-9221.2012.00907.x

Strauss, P., U, A., & Young, S. (2011). ‘I know the type of people I work well with’: Student anxiety in multicultural group projects. Studies in Higher Education36(7), 815-829. DOI:10.1080/03075079.2010.488720