Intercultural Communications Handbook
The 21 st century is characterized by advanced technology in communication transport and
infrastructure (Douglas and Rosvold, 2018). Due to that, the world has been reduced into a small
global village thus enhancing globalization. As a result, people from different parts of the world
find themselves working in different locations. As a Canadian, it is possible to go outside
Canada to look for opportunities and niches to establish your business or expand to global
markets. One of the areas that still have many market Niches is Africa region especially Kenya.
The following is a guideline on how to conduct yourself, build relationships, or close deals in
that part of the world using the different intercultural theories as a basis for etiquette
Different guidelines will help in intercultural communication while in Kenya. The three
main theories that will help a trader that is trying to start a business in Kenya interact, close deal
or form relationships is the use of the social science or the functionalist approach theories, the
interpretive theories, and the critical approach theory.
Social Science Approach
When in Kenya, first of all, realize that the Kenyans are modern Africans that have been
greatly influenced by the culture from the west. It is a nation that despite being a developing
country, has embraced a lot of culture from Britain and America. Therefore, they are individuals
that use the face negotiations theory as suggested by Ting -Toomey in which they live like an
individualistic society. In that, just like America, they protect their faces first. Therefore, they are
more inclined to use the more dominant conflicting resolution approaches (Issa et al., 2016).
Their neighboring counterparts Tanzanians and the Ugandans are more concerned with saving
others. The face protection negotiations approach in this area dictates the way one can interact
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or spark the interest of interaction. For instance, for an individual with a business, it is important
to first explain to the communities how they are going to benefit from that venture. They look
out for themselves first (Issa et al., 2016). It is the same with the business men of that area. One
must ensure that the business has something to benefit them first before they can help you close
the deal. This should not be confused with corruption and bribery but rather goodwill where after
they see benefits to them us when one will be welcome in the area. This approach is also
consistent with the communication accommodation theory that states that individual will
accommodate the people if they feel positive towards the other person. People may change their
ways to accommodate other people when they see that their interests are aligned (Issa et al.,
2016). The area is economically challenged. Therefore, it will be easier to align and close a deal
with the local people if they see there is a chance of economic gains mostly employment
(Samovar et al., 2014). Also, when in this part of the region, it is critical for any businessman to
ensure that they give the people personal spaces. It is easy to interact with Kenyans, but once one
enters their personal space, it can turn out to be an ugly affair.
While the theory in itself aims to understand and describe the behavior, any foreigner
(business traveler in this case) in the community must take some time to understand the
community culture. It is an ideal approach to use in the region as it allows for understanding the
phenomena in the community subjectively from a particular cultural community context (Issa et
al., 2016). When using the approach one should ensure that they use it in one community only.
One can also use ethnography to understand the different cultures and races in the area. It is only
through this approach that it will be possible to understand the fundamental African way of
knowing and interpreting the old. Using this method will allow for an in-depth understanding of
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the communication patterns in a community which will help in building relationships and how to
conduct oneself depending on the social contexts (Samovar et al., 2014).
Communication is one of the core activities in building a relationship with people. Under
different contexts, the people in Kenya use different communication approaches. It is therefore
just not enough to know the Swahili language. One needs to be able to communicate and
understand their different political alienations, views on that kind of business, and sporting
events that will prove key in building meaningful relationships.
It is essential to know all the political alienations of an individual in this area. The
people are so passionate about their leaders whether they are in government or not. Therefore, to
easily close a deal in the area ensure that there is no negative comment about their political idols.
However, keeping up with the political idols of people may be hard as there are different
variations and splits regarding ethnic groups, avoid any negative comment about the local hero
or political giant. Additionally, to close a deal one must ensure that they have on their side, the
political leaders and religious leaders as it will convince most of the people (Scott, 2018).
Kenyans are modernized but are still keen on following most of their traditional practices
(Scott, 2018). It will be easier to conduct oneself once you understand the traditional practices of
the area. The passion is immense such that they do not mind explaining to foreigners to avoid
The Critical Approach
For business travelers, it is important to ensure that you are aware of the critical
approach in understanding the intercultural communication with the people in the foreign lands.
Specifically, the theory mainly considers subjectivity and materiality and emphasizes the
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importance of studying context (Issa et al., 2016). However, the critical approach also focuses on
macro factors such as the political and social factors that significantly affect communication with
people. The main approach purposes are not only understanding how the individual
communicates and behave, but also, change their ways of everyday communications.
It is a somewhat risky approach that one can use in foreign lands since it entails viewing
communication as a battle land with different interpretations and the dominant force will always
prevail. A Canadian in the foreign lands may use the approach in Kenya and change the way
people communicate. It is an ideal approach that an individual can apply and will yield increased
and improved results (Samovar et al., 2014).
Therefore, when conducting yourself, one can first understand how the people carry
themselves out. Then learn their methods and incorporate an ideal section of your approach in
their activities. When building relations, it can be quite challenging to change the way people
communicate and enhance their relationship building. However, Canada is a developed country.
Therefore, one is exposed to information, ideas, and pieces of technology that developing
countries do not have. For instance, Kenyans still value the face to face conversations and using
gentlemen agreements when closing their business deals (Scott, 2018). However, after analyzing
their approaches, you can help introduce them to the use of emails, social media and ensure that
any business deal that is closed is as official as possible with the necessary documentation. That
way the individual will be sure that you are a trustworthy person who is looking out for them.
The relationship formed will then be enhanced
When using the approach, it is ideal as it has the potential to reach very many people.
The strategy will also ensure stronger bonds and will allow people to start using some of the
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approaches that are used back here in Canada (Issa et al., 2016). From that angle, it will be easier
for you to operate. However, the method focuses on macro factors and ignores the use of the
face to face interactions that are ideal for data collection. When applying the approach one may
find themselves biased as they used data from television and mass media which may be
Globalization has allowed an individual to travel and start businesses foreign lands with
different intercultural contexts (Douglas and Rosvold, 2018). It is, therefore, critical to
understanding how to conduct themselves build relationships and close deals in those regions
despite all the differences. The different intercultural communication theories offer insight on
how an individual may communicate with the people to enhance their relationship building and
closing a deal. The three main theories are the social-cultural theories, interpretive theories and
critical theory which focuses on guiding the Canadians on how to interact in Kenya (Scott,
2018). Social-cultural theories had the face negotiations that dictates that to get along with
Kenyans one must first present to them a way they will be able to benefit from their proposals
ultimately. It will enhance the relationships and enable any deal. On the second approach when
using the interpretive theory, one aligns themselves according to the requirements and the
demands of the people in the region. The people will then be able to understand and be able to
enhance the relationship. Finally, one can use a critical approach that entails understanding the
people culture and also integrating communication approaches by observing the macro factors
like politics and social life. Observing and understanding all these will enable any Canadian
who has decided to go to East Africa Kenya, behave accordingly, establish working relationships
and strike business deals.
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Douglas, S. R., & Rosvold, M. (2018). Intercultural Communicative Competence and English for
Academic Purposes: A Synthesis Review of Scholarly Literature. Canadian Journal of
Applied Linguistics/Revue Canadienne de Linguistique appliquée, 21(1), 23-42.
Issa A.A., ZaraAli-Garga F., Yunusa M., (2016). The Meaning and Theories of Intercultural
Communication. Research Gate
Samovar, L. A., Porter, R. E., McDaniel, E. R., & Roy, C. S. (2014). Intercultural
communication: A reader. Cengage Learning.
Scott, L. (2018). KENYAN YOUTHS’EXPERIENCES OF INTERCULTURAL CONFLICT:
NEGOTIATING CONTEXT, INTERSECTIONALITIES, AND AGENCY.