Cultural Communication Issues

Even if two parties share the same language, differences in culture may hinder effective communication. One’s culture may often have an impact on the way one thinks and feels about the world, and two individuals who speak the same language but have different cultural backgrounds may come away from a conversation with entirely different views of the exchange. When an individual is not a native speaker of the language an exchange takes place in, misunderstandings or errors in translation may further impede good communication.

Culture can impact meaningful communication in three primary ways:

  • Cognitive constraints can be seen in communicating parties who do not share similar world views and have dissimilar frames of reference.
  • Behavioral constraints are differences in verbal and nonverbal actions. For example, while it is acceptable to look into the eyes of an authority figure while communicating in some cultures, individuals from other cultures may find this behavior to be unacceptable.
  • Emotional constraints describe differences in the expression of feelings and emotions. Those from a particular cultural background may display their feelings quite openly, while individuals from another culture may rigid control over their emotions.

When those involved in cross-cultural communications are not aware of these potential constraints and the effects they may have, misunderstandings can easily occur, and conflict may be the result.

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Stages of Grief

Denial: “This can’t be happening to me.”

Anger: Why is this happening? Who is to blame?”

Bargaining: “Make this not happen, and in return I will ____.”

Depression: “I’m too sad to do anything.”

Acceptance: “I’m at peace with what happened.”

If you are experiencing any of these emotions following a loss, it may help to know that your reaction is natural and that you’ll heal in time. However, not everyone who grieves goes through all of these stages—and that’s okay. In fact, some people resolve their grief without going through any of these stages. And if you do go through these stages of grief, you probably won’t experience them in a neat, sequential order, so don’t worry about what you “should” be feeling or which stage you’re supposed to be in.

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Social Anxiety

People with social anxiety disorder (sometimes called “social phobia”) have a marked fear of social or performance situations in which they expect to feel embarrassed, judged, rejected, or fearful of offending others.

Social anxiety disorder symptoms include:

  • Feeling highly anxious about being with other people and having a hard time talking to them
  • Feeling very self-conscious in front of other people and worried about feeling humiliated, embarrassed, or rejected, or fearful of offending others
  • Being very afraid that other people will judge them
  • Worrying for days or weeks before an event where other people will be
  • Staying away from places where there are other people
  • Having a hard time making friends and keeping friends
  • Blushing, sweating, or trembling around other people
  • Feeling nauseous or sick to your stomach when other people are around

 

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Depression in Teens

It’s not unusual for young people to experience “the blues” or feel “down in the dumps” occasionally. Adolescence is always an unsettling time, with the many physical, emotional, psychological and social changes that accompany this stage of life.

Unrealistic academic, social, or family expectations can create a strong sense of rejection and can lead to deep disappointment. When things go wrong at school or at home, teens often overreact. Many young people feel that life is not fair or that things “never go their way.” They feel “stressed out” and confused. To make matters worse, teens are bombarded by conflicting messages from parents, friends and society. Today’s teens see more of what life has to offer — both good and bad — on television, at school, in magazines and on the Internet.

Teens need adult guidance more than ever to understand all the emotional and physical changes they are experiencing. When teens’ moods disrupt their ability to function on a day-to-day basis, it may indicate a serious emotional or mental disorder that needs attention — adolescent depression. Parents or caregivers must take action.

Dealing With Adolescent Pressures

When teens feel down, there are ways they can cope with these feelings to avoid serious depression. All of these suggestions help develop a sense of acceptance and belonging that is so important to adolescents.

  • Try to make new friends. Healthy relationships with peers are central to teens’ self-esteem and provide an important social outlet.
  • Participate in sports, job, school activities or hobbies. Staying busy helps teens focus on positive activities rather than negative feelings or behaviors.
  • Join organizations that offer programs for young people. Special programs geared to the needs of adolescents help develop additional interests.
  • Ask a trusted adult for help. When problems are too much to handle alone, teens should not be afraid to ask for help.

But sometimes, despite everyone’s best efforts, teens become depressed. Many factors can contribute to depression. Studies show that some depressed people have too much or too little of certain brain chemicals. Also, a family history of depression may increase the risk for developing depression. Other factors that can contribute to depression are difficult life events (such as death or divorce), side-effects from some medications and negative thought patterns.

Recognizing Adolescent Depression

Adolescent depression is increasing at an alarming rate. Recent surveys indicate that as many as one in five teens suffers from clinical depression. This is a serious problem that calls for prompt, appropriate treatment. Depression can take several forms, including bipolar disorder (formally called manic-depression), which is a condition that alternates between periods of euphoria and depression.

Depression can be difficult to diagnose in teens because adults may expect teens to act moody. Also, adolescents do not always understand or express their feelings very well. They may not be aware of the symptoms of depression and may not seek help.

These symptoms may indicate depression, particularly when they last for more than two weeks:

  • Poor performance in school
  • Withdrawal from friends and activities
  • Sadness and hopelessness
  • Lack of enthusiasm, energy or motivation
  • Anger and rage
  • Overreaction to criticism
  • Feelings of being unable to satisfy ideals
  • Poor self-esteem or guilt
  • Indecision, lack of concentration or forgetfulness
  • Restlessness and agitation
  • Changes in eating or sleeping patterns
  • Substance abuse
  • Problems with authority
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions

Teens may experiment with drugs or alcohol or become sexually promiscuous to avoid feelings of depression. Teens also may express their depression through hostile, aggressive, risk-taking behavior. But such behaviors only lead to new problems, deeper levels of depression and destroyed relationships with friends, family, law enforcement or school officials.

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Lying can destroy a relationship, but all lying is not created equally. Some liars use their fabrications to be manipulative — think the worst salesperson in the world, the most seductive person trying to woo you, or the classic narcissist pumping up his own image. These individuals use others as objects, or in the case of pathological liars, do what they do because that is what they do: There’s a personality disorder involved.

But in most everyday relationships, lying is situational. This is what Kara is dealing with. She believes in her heart that Jack is a good guy, and not ethically shady or a sociopath. But this stuff with the ex drives her crazy. This is less about Kara and more about Jack’s coping mechanisms

Problems as Bad Solutions

In most of these situations, someone like Jack lies because he is anxious and afraid. No doubt he has done this before, probably way back in childhood, when it sometimes worked, sometimes didn’t, but more often than not it was effective enough to keep him out of trouble.

The problem here is not the ex, but his own anxiety about Kara’s reaction. He lies to avoid those little-kid, getting-in-trouble feelings, as well as “parental” anger and possibly punishment. So he contacts his ex, but doesn’t tell Kara, because he is already wired to fear blowback.

The Cycle

What now happens is the setting up of a dysfunctional cycle. Kara may have her own above-average sensitivity to trust and honesty from her childhood or previous, and possibly unfaithful boyfriends — it may now be part of her mental DNA. Going into her relationship with Jack, she is already wired to this and a bit hyper-alert. She does her best to not be overly intrusive and to take him at his word. But now her worst fears have come to the fore, and she explodes.

When this happens, it triggers Jack’s worst fears. His brain is telling him that he was right all along: Telling the truth is not safe, and he actually needs to get better at being secretive and withholding.

The couple could fight this battle for … forever, with Kara getting hurt, getting angry, and trying to get Jack to change, and Jack ducking and weaving to keep Kara off his back and avoid conflict.

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