Prepared for Rotaract: “Intercultural Competence in a Techno World,” by Prof. Jasmin Cowin

May 5th, 2023

The topic of intercultural competence was the focus of my exploration with the Rotaract group. We discussed how to enhance communication and collaboration among people from diverse cultural backgrounds. This skill is essential in the contemporary globalized workforce, where cross-cultural teams are increasingly common and require effective coordination and mutual understanding. To illustrate the differences and similarities among various cultural styles, we used the Hofstede Insights tool ( to compare and contrast the dimensions of national culture for several countries. This exercise helped us to appreciate the complexity and richness of intercultural interactions.

Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions Theory, developed by Geert Hofstede, is a framework used to understand the differences in culture across countries.
Hofstede’s initial six key dimensions include power distance, uncertainty avoidance, individualism-collectivism, masculinity-femininity, and short vs. long-term orientation. Later, researchers added restraint vs. indulgence to this list. The extent to which individual countries share key dimensions depends on a number of factors, such as shared language and geographical location.
Hofstede’s cultural dimensions are widely used to understand etiquette and facilitate communication across cultures in areas ranging from business to diplomacy.

We then took a look at the hurdles when encountering cultural differences:

1Denial of differenceParticipants in communication fear that cultural differences threaten them or simply deny their existence. As a result, they ignore difficulties and misunderstandings in intercultural communication. Ethnocentrism is a common stance in this stage, meaning that one’s culture is considered better than others.
2DefenseParticipants in communication perceive cultural differences as a threat and react defensively. They see their own culture as superior to others and tend to criticize other cultures. They feel attacked by other cultures and therefore tend to avoid intercultural communication.
3MinimizationParticipants in communication acknowledge the existence of cultural differences but try to minimize their importance. They tend to ignore cultural differences, as they see them as insignificant, or even irrelevant. They may also try to universalize their own cultural norms and values.
4AcceptanceParticipants in communication recognize and respect cultural differences and acknowledge that other cultures have equally valid ways of seeing and doing things. They try to understand and appreciate different cultural perspectives. However, they may still struggle with misunderstandings and conflicts.
5AdaptationParticipants in communication are willing to adapt their communication style and behavior to better fit the cultural norms and values of the other culture. They are open to learning from different cultural perspectives and willing to change their own perspectives and behaviors.
6IntegrationParticipants in communication have reached the final stage where they are capable of reconciling cultural differences and forging a multicultural identity. They are skilled at intercultural communication and can effectively navigate different cultural perspectives. They are able to combine different cultural identities and develop a unique multicultural identity.

Intercultural Communication Cycle by Dr. Jasmin (Bey) Cowin:

Author: drcowinj

Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs only to the people who prepare for it today,” determined Malcolm X at the O.A.A.U.’s [Organization of Afro-American Unity] founding forum at the Audubon Ballroom. (June 28, 1964). (X, n.d.) Dr. Jasmin Bey Cowin a Fulbright Scholar, SIT Graduate, completed the Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP™) at Columbia University, Teachers College. Dr. Cowin served as the President of the Rotary Club of New York and Assistant Governor for New York State; long-term Chair of the Rotary United Nations International Breakfast meetings; and works as an Assistant Professor at Touro College, Graduate School of Education. Dr. Cowin has over twenty-five years of experience as an educator, tech innovator, entrepreneur, and institutional leader with a focus on equity and access to digital literacy and education in the Sub-Saharan Africa region. Her extensive background in education, administration, not-for-profit leadership, entrepreneurial spirit, and technology innovation provide her with unique skills and vertical networks locally and globally. Dr. Cowin participates fully in the larger world of TESOL academic discipline as elected Vice President and Chair-Elect for the New York State, NYS TESOL organization, for the 2021 conference. Ongoing research, expressed in scholarly contributions to the advancement of knowledge is demonstrated through publications, presentations, and participation in academic conferences, blogging, and other scholarly activities, including public performances and exhibitions at conferences and workshops. Of particular interest to her are The Blockchain of Things and its implications for Higher Education; Current Global Trends in TESOL; Developing Materials and Resources in Teaching English; E-learning; Micro and Macro-Methodologies in TESOL; E-Resources Discovery and Analysis; and Language Acquisition and the Oculus Rift in VR.

%d bloggers like this: