Mastering Communication: Understanding Communication Competence and Its Intercultural Dimensions

  1. Defining Communication Competence

  • Essence: Communication competence refers to the ability to effectively and appropriately engage in communication in a given context. It’s not just about what is communicated, but how it is communicated.
  • Components: This includes various skills such as verbal proficiency, non-verbal expression, listening skills, adaptability, empathy, and self-awareness.
  1. Key Elements of Communication Competence

  • Verbal Skills: Effective use of language for clear and concise messaging.
  • Non-Verbal Communication: Understanding and utilizing body language, facial expressions, and gestures.
  • Listening Skills: Active and empathetic listening to truly understand the message being conveyed.
  • Adaptability: Adjusting communication styles to fit different contexts, audiences, and situations.
  • Cultural Awareness: Being aware of and sensitive to cultural differences in communication styles.
  1. Intercultural Communication Competence

  • Beyond Basics: Intercultural communication competence extends the concept to include the ability to communicate effectively and appropriately with people of other cultures.
  • Cultural Sensitivity: This involves understanding cultural norms, values, and communication patterns and adapting one’s communication style accordingly.
  • Overcoming Barriers: Navigating and overcoming language barriers, cultural misunderstandings, and preconceptions.
  1. Developing Communication Competence

  • Education and Awareness: Learning about different communication styles, cultures, and contexts.
  • Practice and Experience: Engaging in diverse communication settings to build and refine skills.
  • Feedback and Reflection: Seeking and reflecting on feedback to improve communication strategies.
  1. The Importance in Today’s World

  • Global Interactions: With globalization, communication competence, especially intercultural, is essential in both personal and professional spheres.
  • Conflict Resolution: Effective communication skills are key in resolving misunderstandings and conflicts, particularly in multicultural environments.
  1. Challenges and Continuous Learning

  • Evolving Dynamics: Communication norms and technologies are constantly evolving, requiring continual learning and adaptation.
  • Personal Biases: Recognizing and overcoming personal biases and stereotypes is crucial for genuine intercultural competence.

What is communicative competence?

When we deal with the question of whether and how we should teach communicative competence, we must first define what communicative competence actually is. Unfortunately, as in the discussion about the concept of competence in general, there is no uniform definition. In the scientific literature, no systematic or clear distinction is made between “Communication Competence” and “Communication Skills”. For example, the standard work by Silverman, Kurtz and Draper is entitled “Skills for Communicating with Patients”, although it is probably the aim of the book to promote the acquisition of communicative competence even though the term “competence” does not appear in the book .

Proposal for a definition of communicative competence

If one now tries to bring together the ideas on social skills according to Hargie with the concept of competence according to Weinert, one could define communicative competence as follows:

Communicative competence is the ability to achieve communicative goals in a socially appropriate manner. It is organized and goal-oriented, i.e. it includes the ability to select and apply skills that are appropriate and effective in the respective context. It includes verbal and non-verbal behaviour. The application of communicative competence is serial, i.e. different processes and activities are coordinated in a typical sequence and require appropriate timing and control of specific behaviour. It is influenced by the behaviour of the other person and by the context and requires the preparedness and willingness to communicate with the other person for the benefit of all. Communicative competence can be acquired, i.e. the necessary skills are built up step by step through repeated, reflected practice and experience.

 

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