Intercultural Communication: What is Individualism and Collectivism?

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Intercultural Communication: What is Individualism and Collectivism?

The workforce has become more and more diverse: different ages, values, ethnicities, and cultures. Some of people are reluctant talking up or challenging others’ ideas.


Some cultures value the individual, whereas others value the group. This is referred to as individualism or collectivism.

People that listen, without challenge, may be members of collectivistic cultures.

They tend to be more attentive to and concerned with the opinions of significant others. They tend to be less direct in conflict situations and often place greater emphasis on harmony. They feel loyalties and obligations to groups of which they are members: the family, the community, the organization, and their work teams.

If you grew up in the United States, you are likely a member of an individualistic culture. People that are from individualistic cultures tend to view their primary responsibility as being to themselves. They probably gain most of their identity and self-esteem from their own accomplishments and are characterized by self-reliance and competition. They are probably relatively tolerant of conflicts, using a direct, solution-oriented approach. This orientation is likely to produce and reward stars.

So, are you looking out for number one? Are you self-reliant, have high self-esteem, and I love to be recognized for your individual effort and success?

Here are my suggestions when it comes to the issue of individualism and collectivism. Members of an Individualistic culture need to manage their desires to dominate group discussions and to “win” in problem-solving situations. Members of a collectivistic culture need to consider speaking up and speaking out, even if it means disagreeing, when it is in the best interests of the group.

2016-12-28T16:51:36-05:00