We live in a world, where globalization is on its heyday, the new flow of information and curiosity about other culture representatives makes people investigate, what does other country representatives have in common with each other. Intercultural communication has an important role that can prevent any misunderstandings between co-workers.
By nature, people always tend to follow stereotypes and make hasty decisions, which are not always the right way to get acquainted with new culture. One of the barriers to commutate with people are social stereotyping and making assumptions. Stereotyping is the process of ascribing specific behavioral, speech, thinking of a person who belongs to a certain group. These assumptions are based on characteristics like ethnicity, gender, race, religion, nationality or status. Stereotype is an overgeneralized belief about a particular culture. All of those assumptions are based on some kind of reality, truth or something that was assigned to one particular culture.
Some of the stereotypes may be helpful is the cases like: person with a degree is capable of doing complex data analysis.
Nevertheless, generalizing people it’s not always a good way out of situations. On the other hand, stereotypes play an important role by helping people to co-operate with another culture or conversely prevent unwanted situations to happen.
As an example, people always stereotype Asians to be good in math, while Latino people are emotional and loud, Russians have a propensity toward alcoholic beverages, French are the best chefs, Italians are always late and Germans very punctual.
Rather than viewing another individual or a group as a unique being, people always tend to make assumptions and ascribe them on clichés based on few mentioned earlier. Despite this, it’s not a secret, that when we make new connections, usually we try to find some sort of similarities to connect. It is a natural tendency for people to be near with whom they share the generic language, habits or beliefs. More things we have in common, more comfortable we feel and set up a connection.
This research will discuss the different barriers to effective communication and stereotyping in everyday life and at a workplace. To give a better understanding of the topics, this essay will include the academic articles and real-life cases.
In today’s society, it is very common for people to generalize everyone and put another culture into certain stereotypical groups. These stereotypes can be very unfair and offensive towards culture representatives. Every culture has a joke stereotypes about other nationalities or cultural group. The most famous one in Europe is called “Heaven and Hell”. The joke begins:
Heaven is a place where Chefs are French, the police are British, lovers are Italian and everything is organized by Germans.
Hell is a place where Chefs are British, the police are French, the lovers are Germans and everything is organized by Italians.
Beside all the jokes, the listed countries representatives suggested that there is some tiny bit of truth in it. The different kinds of stereotypes were introduced to us by our parents like cultural stereotypes, gender, religious, racial, sexual and physical.
From early childhood till now, the most generalized ones were gender stereotypes, which have followed us no matter in which continent we are staying. The gender roles are a specific characteristic or behavior men and woman has to stand by. For the centuries, the traditional viewing of a family household was where man is the one who is in charge for livelihood and safety, while woman is taking care of children, cooking and cleaning. Boys should do some kind of sports like football or karate, be into cars, do not show the emotions, if not gone so the boy will hear “don’t cry like a girl”. While girls should wear dresses, play with dolls, go on a ballet or dancing. Even colors got stereotyped as blue for boys and pink for girls. Children have grown in such an environment and accordingly will stick to these stereotypes as well. For Hofstede, gender in the form of masculinity dimension is one of the important elements. In a more feminine society like Scandinavian countries, where the equality is becoming more and more conventional thing, women will have a higher representation in managerial roles.
A gender stereotypes is harmful for both genders when it limits their ability to develop self-potential or if it obstructs their professional career. Workplace stereotypes are not really distinguished from stereotypes in everyday life, considering that modern-day workforce includes people of different beliefs, nationality, gender, age and sexual preferences. If the coworker assumes something about any of the stereotypes about another employee, that doesn’t mean that he or she makes offensive statement unless any action is made.
Stereotypes do not only influence on employee’s performance and profits but also offence self-respect. In 2012 study by Jessica Carlson and Mary Crawford have found that employees perceived female speakers more emotional and male speakers more competent, even though the speech held the same meaning.
As an example, a beautiful woman got a good position in a company for her big work experience, intelligence and qualification, the lower management people will only suppose that she got this position only because of her physical appearance.
The usage of stereotypes prevents people from getting to know each other properly. As an example, company hires a new worker from another cultural background with different religious beliefs that differs from majority of employees. Everyone already have some thoughts what does his or her religion is about based on stereotypes, and the conversation might start off with inimical and unfriendly note, which can definitely reduce possibility to cooperate with each other. On the other hand, if workers had a chance to know each other as an individual and put aside any of stereotypes to learn something new from each other it will benefit as for the co-workers and a company as well. As an example, employees may feel constrain and dishonest while communicating with a person who they think is arrogant or testy based on stereotypes.
Gender stereotypes usually applied towards women, as in real life and on a workplace and can lead woman who are under the pressure of stereotype to feel frustrated and uncomfortable in the working place. Since man often concern ambition, power and purposeful, while woman tend to stereotype as emotional, less objective and more family oriented rather than build a professional career. As a result of gender stereotypes, women are less likely to work on a high-level position. Nearly four out of ten businesses in Group of Seven have no woman in a top manager position. Only 22% of senior roles occupied by women and about 39% have no woman at senior management position. Japan and Germany are two of the worst performing countries with women in senior roles with 7% for Japan and 15% for Germany. Both of these countries have a high masculinity index. To put woman under stereotypes is becoming a common thing, since people in such countries tend to associate woman with domesticity, femininity and child care. The top managers may also draw conclusions about the capabilities of a lower-class employee and assume that entry level workers are less educated and qualified than the middle-class worker.
The big question would be: “Why do we hold on to stereotypes?” One reason is that it helps us to know what to expect from different cultures and how to react to a specific behavior.
In the last years, we can see the changes in communication between different cultures and that people do not stick to stereotypes. We should take into consideration that no matter how good or bad stereotypes are, we should not adhere them, since it causes prejudgment. People should learn how to respect other societies, cultures and religions. Instead of focusing on some mistakes individuals do, people should focus of how unique each person is. This can prevent a lot of problems like discrimination. We can change people’s perception on stereotypes that have settled deeply in our society. When the culture changes then implied stereotypes of its representative will change.