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Intercultural communication

Abbiamo incontrato Milton J. Bennett, professione: interculturalist, ovvero uno studioso dei rapporti tra le diverse culture. Il suo obiettivo è fare comunicare in modo rispettoso ed efficace persone che arrivano da mondi diversi: un lavoro complicato, ma altamente stimolante e interessante. Milton J. Bennett ce lo racconta… By Mark Worden - LANGUAGE LEVEL C1 (ADVANCED)

Milton J. Bennett (Standard American accent)

I’m Milton Bennett and I’m an interculturalist. An interculturalist is a person who studies what happens when people from different cultures attempt to communicate respectfully and effectively with one another. This may happen in corporate situations in global companies, it may happen in social situations, amongst social operators, it may... happen with immigrant and refugees, it may happen in international cooperation programmes, wherever it is that we are contacting cultures, that cultures are in contact with one another, there is the potential for our becoming better at intercultural communication, being able to... to recognize one another in respectful ways and to then form a communication that... that helps us... achieve our collective ends, our goals. I’ve written a book about this and it’s called Basic Concepts of Intercultural Communication: Paradigms, Principles and Practices. And while the... the... the title sounds a bit pretentious, what it really tries to do is to... is to look at what are the basic ingredients of getting better at communicating cross-culturally? And so I think there are these three principles that I explore in the book. One of them I... is what I call The Identity Principle, which is: How do we think of ourselves in cultural terms, in addition to thinking of ourselves in personal terms? The second one is  what I call Interaction Analysis, which is: How do we recognize cultural differences and predict what might be problematic? You know, if... if I say, “How are you?” and mean it... and don’t mean you to answer, I mean you to say, “How are you?” back, and but however when you say to me, “How are you?” you expect me to stop and give an answer, you know, can we be aware of that difference? And in so doing... shift sufficiently for us to have, even in this case, simply to greet each other appropriately, and there are a myriad of those kinds of examples. And in the third area is what I call Adaptation Strategy, which is: What’s the basic approach that we’re taking to living together in multicultural societies and in the Global Village? These... these three areas, I think, constitute the... the... the... the current state of the art, in how it is that we’re thinking about living in a society, or in a... in a Global Village that’s being increasingly characterized by... by cross-cultural communication, by cross-cultural transportation, by cross-cultural contact of all sorts, in a way that is not obviating, it’s not making culture go away, it’s... it’s creating the conditions of us being in contact with cultural difference more and more  consistently on an everyday basis, and this book addresses that issue.

(Milton J. Bennett was talking to Mark Worden)

The interview continues in the September issue of Speak Up, click here to listen to it.