Cultural assimilation could be defined as losing characteristics of one’s own culture to adopt cultural characteristics of another group . Jorge is from Central America where different cultural norms and values than America persist and as a result, he has been having difficulties adjusting into a new culture. Jorge could consider assimilation into American culture to feel at home and while cultural assimilation has many benefits, it has certain disadvantages as well.
One of the benefits of cultural assimilation for Jorge will be that he will be able to interact more efficiently with his co-workers, most of whom are locals. This will not only make him feel at home but will also improve his work performance and confidence. If an individual doesn’t feel at ease in a particular workplace environment, he may even develop stress and workplace conflicts. Another benefit of cultural assimilation for Jorge will be that he will have access to more leadership opportunities because of better reputation with co-workers. Leaders are those who have the ability to inspire others towards common goals and unpopular leaders find it difficult to inspire subordinates to perform at their best.
Cultural assimilation also encourages individuals to learn more about other cultures which help them recognize and get rid of ethnocentric biases and become more open-minded. This cross-cultural knowledge will also better prepare Jorge for overseas assignments as he will be able to adjust in new cultures more easily due to an open mind. The probability of overseas assignments will continue to increase due to globalization which has been leading to increased overseas travel . Another benefit to Jorge for assimilating culturally into American culture may be that he will acquire some of the positive traits associated with individualistic cultures like American such as self-believe, entrepreneurial mindset that one alone can make difference, and more open attitude towards risk-taking and failure.
Cultural assimilation is not always as easy process. One of the cons is that an individual may feel trapped between two different cultures and will have difficulty developing a particular cultural identity. Cultural assimilation may win Jorge support at workplace but his family and friends outside workplace may react negatively. Another potential cost of cultural assimilation for Jorge maybe that he will lose some of the edge that comes from coming from a different cultural background. People from different cultures bring different perspectives to the table but if Jorge assimilates into American culture, his perspectives may also become more American in nature which will hurt the potential benefits of diversity.
Language is an important window into a culture. Language is the medium through which cultural exchange takes place. Even language structures are dependent upon cultures which may be why we have multiple versions of major languages including English and Spanish worldwide. Different cultural groups have different worldviews and these world views influence languages as well .
Jorge can adopt different strategies to viably communicate with others in a multicultural society and become integrated into the American society more smoothly. First of all, Jorge may work on improving his cross-cultural communication skills and there are different ways, both formal and informal. Jorge may take formal seminars or he can learn about other cultures through scholarly research as well as frequent interaction with people from other background. As Jorge takes initiative to learn more about other cultures, his American counterparts will adopt more welcoming attitude towards him and help him along the way to fully integrating into American culture.
Jorge can also speed up his integration by participating in American festivals and other national and cultural events. These events will help Jorge understand aspects of culture that cannot always be communicated through language but are instead learnt through observations. Just as language is part of culture, traditions and festivals are also part of culture and understanding them also improve cross-cultural language skills. Similarly, there is often a potential for misunderstanding in cross-cultural communication due to differences in cultural contexts. Thus, if Jorge ever suspects he may not have understood the message clearly, he should ask for clarification . Clarification will help Jorge make sure he and the other communicator are on the same page. Jorge should not be afraid to ask questions whenever he is not sure. Asking questions may be uncomfortable for Jorge but it will be a better alternative to making mistakes that may hurt his career prospects.
Jorge is experiencing cultural shock which is a common phenomenon in cases where there are huge differences between two cultures. Jorge may benefit from cultural assimilation through better career prospects and better adjustment at work. On the other hand, cultural assimilation may also lead to issues with family or confused sense of cultural identity. Jorge can follow certain communication strategies to integrate into American society such as greater willingness to experience different aspects of American culture, doing background research into American culture, and not being afraid to ask when he may have questions.
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