The Importance Of Cross-Cultural Communication

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Communication is a two-way process of reaching a mutual understanding between the participants through exchange of information, news, ideas, and feelings while creating and sharing meaning. Cross-cultural communication aims at sharing information across different cultures and social groups. However, people from different religious, social, ethnic, and educational backgrounds may encounter problems communicating due to language barrier or lack of understanding the cultural differences. In the spirit catches you and you fall down (Fadiman, 1997), cross-cultural communication was lacking and it was the main barrier to Lia’s medical treatment and care. The case of Lia reveals the dangers of a lack of cross-cultural communication in the medical profession.
The best cross-cultural communicator in the spirit catches you and you fall down (Fadiman, 1997), was Francesca Farr. Although she was not Lia’s health care provider, she was a hospital social worker in San Francisco. Farr was sent to visit the eight months pregnant woman who had tuberculosis and had refused to take her isoniazid tablets because she and her husband believed that if she took the medicine the baby would be born without arms and legs.

Farr made sure that she took a capable and assertive interpreter with her. When Farr began talking to the patient, the interpreter told her that she should talk to the patient’s husband first. Moreover, when she asked the husband why he did not want the wife to take the
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