Stress-Adaptation-Growth

This
process of acculturation and emergence of an intercultural personality can be
organized into three distinct phases, of stress,
adaptation, and growth. (Integrative Theory of cross-cultural adaptation by
Young Yun Kim, Kim, 1988, 2001, 2005).

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According
to this theory, experiences of cultural variation inevitably harbor stress in an
individual- a sort of psychological strife
caused by one’s defiance towards cultural changes and the desire to retain old
customs and traditions. On the contrary, there is an innate aspiration to alter
our behavior, in harmony with our new surroundings. In effect it is a constant
struggle between the “push of the
new culture and the pull of the usual culture”. These experiences
eventually manifest feelings of intense uncertainty, confusion and anxiety.

The
second phase, adaptation is multifaceted. It is both psychological and socio-cultural.
While the psychological adaptation is more about an individual’s psychological
and physical well being, socio-cultural adaptation is about one’s ability to
manage his or her routine life in the realms of the new culture. Instances of cultural
incompatibility and the stress that comes with it, gave me an impulsion for new
leaning opportunities and adapting to a positive shift in my inherent cultural
habits. Such adaptations have allowed me to emerge as a more understanding
member of a multicultural society. Making smart but necessary compromises &
having clear and effective communication with people of varying cultures is the
primary step. Reading and leaning about different cultures helps me in pre
empting situations while dealing with people. This also helps in avoiding
conflicts in such a multi-cultural society. I regularly invite my friends from
different nations and cultures for potluck dinners. Discussions about politics,
social and personal life transpire. After all, being open to different opinions
and respecting them is key to intercultural learning.

Following
this phase of adaptation is the third and final phase, growth. As a result of
all the adaptations I have made, I have turned into a more understanding member
of a multicultural environment, or an intercultural being. Complementing this lasting
improvement is the improved ability to engage in the emotional and aesthetic experiences of cultural strangers, and the zest
with which to make suitable behavioral changes in particular circumstances. Emerging from these experiences of cross
cultural interaction is an intercultural identity, a self-orientation that is
richer in knowledge and wisdom. (Young Yun Kim 2015)

 

Looking
Forward (Conclusion)

This
paper compiles my experiences of intercultural communication, the
stress–adaptation–growth process of acculturation, and intercultural identity
development. In this paper I penned down three critical incidents from my own
experience in a multicultural environment. These incidents were counter
explained using a similar run of events in India (my home country) and analyzed
using Hofstede’s cultural dimensions. My understanding of these cultural
differences, and the emergence of an intercultural personality were used in a
way to answer the primary question of 
how to survive and thrive in multicultural teams and environment ?

The
six dimensions of culture proposed by Geert Hofstede, is a very effective and
informative piece of literature. It proved pivotal in the describing and
analyzing the critical incidents. Knowledge of these dimensions and related
aspects of different culture help in understanding the perspective of people
from different corners of the world. Also the Integrative theory of cross-cultural
adaptation by Young Yun Kim, has been useful in paving a way for surviving and
thriving in a multicultural environment.

 

 

“Increasing
contact with other cultures presents an opportunity for adaptation and transformation
beyond one’s original cultural parameters.” (Young Yun Kim 2015). To me, adjusting to this new environment of
multiple cultures is something that was very much essential. I have tried to
embrace apparently conflicting perspectives into a my new identity without
losing my innate personality. Inevitably or by a personal choice, I am still an
introvert, but I have become more accommodating and understanding to the
multicultural world around me.