Working at a full-time radio station has been one of my most cherished accomplishments. I’ve always wanted to become a radio personality and in July of 2011, I was given an opportunity to fulfill my dream. KSDS, Jazz88.3 is a non-profit organization which is a part of the San Diego City College Foundation. We (KSDS) are a full-time Jazz radio station and are licensed to the San Diego Community College District. The joy I receive broadcasting to thousands of listeners is unreal. Not only do I speak to local and national listeners, I also broadcast internationally via our smartphone application and through our website.
My co-workers are very unique and interesting to say. However, within our cultural organization, we have co-cultures that exist and often require Communication Competence. With over 40 DJ’s of different cultures, ethnic backgrounds and different genders, balancing effectiveness and appropriateness through interaction and particular situations is required. I find it absolutely essential to practice efficient intercultural communications theories. My ability to maintain a positive identity with my co-workers, managers, and bosses will rely on my intercultural communication competence.
As defined, intercultural competence is one’s effectiveness and appropriateness when communicating and those two phases of intercultural communication competence can negatively hinder my future growth within my organization if I don't apply these theories. For example, we are currently going through a shift in our chain of command. We do not know who our station manager will be. This is the top position in our organization and if I’m not able to effectively communicate in an appropriate manner with my new station manager, I may be out of a full-time position.
Furthermore, we have low power distances where my co-worker relationships are a bit more intimate, juxtapose to high power distances where one would have to display empathy and appreciation towards their co-workers and employers. This also may be a hindrance due to the fact that individuals carry cultural assumptions with them into different conversations and when you combine intimate relationships with intercultural incompetence, you have a breakdown in effective communication. In addition to intercultural competence and low power distances negatively affecting my future career, we have a huge international community of listeners here in San Diego and throughout the world that I have to communicate with. I have to be very careful as to not let my “American” cultural assumptions permeate through my conversations.
One particular work day, I had a communication breakdown with one of my co-workers. Being that I am the youngest of all my co-workers, I have a hard time effectively communicating due to my already ‘hip’ lingo. This particular day, my shift at Midnight was almost over and my relief had come in earlier than expected. Keep in mind that I've never met this co-worker because I'm usually out the door before their shift starts. When I finally see my co-worker, I gave a simple salutation by saying, "What’s good?" To my surprise, I didn't get a response and so finally I just said, "hello." Those were the only words we spoke to each other and I ended my shift and left. I thought about our interaction because after all, we were co-workers and being the younger jock, I wanted to make a good impression.
Furthermore, our primary goal as communicators should be to minimize uncertainties that we have about the world. Those uncertainties bring an unpleasant feeling. This is called Uncertainty Reduction Theory. All I could think about over the next few days was our awkward, brief encounter. Fast forward a couple more days and I'm back at work ready to end my shift. This time I knew that I would be seeing the same co-worker again and that feeling of uncertainty crept inside of me. According to Berger and Calabrese, URT explains and predicts when, why, and how individuals use communication to minimize their doubts when interacting with others. This is exactly what I felt. The anticipation of future interactions with this coworker, ate at me. All I wanted to do was make a good impression but how did I end up trying to win this person’s friendship and why.
The answer can be explained through 8 axioms that researchers have established. Every day I crossed paths with my co-worker I said something other than hello. And every day my uncertainty was reduced. This is because verbal communication reduces uncertainty. I also began to ask intimate questions and seek information about my co-worker. According to URT, the greater the uncertainty, the more information-seeking behaviors arise. High uncertainty leads to more reciprocal communication strategies and I found myself making small talk and saying lighthearted jokes and as uncertainty began to decrease, liking increased.
However, it is important that I remain reasonable and rational because relationship management is key when working with co-workers. Not everyone is going to like you and not everything will go your way. Despite the differences, I think the most important thing is to have cultural awareness or in other words; know that I’m surrounded by people of different cultures. This is why the Uncertainty Reduction Theory (URT) helped me understand my relationships with my co-workers. I found it to be most useful when applying it to my interaction with my co-worker. This is more evident during interpersonal communication with new relationships.
Much of my social interaction was goal driven and with that interaction, I began to communicate with a purpose or reason. Learning different theories, especially URT has provided an avenue for me to improve my intercultural communications with my co-worker. Effective communication is an essential necessity in the world of Jazz. Intercultural communication is the purpose of sharing ourselves with other people and to participate in creating some sort of shared meaning. The entire process is very important to ensure the message you're trying to convey is received. As an on air personality, there are certain rules that I must adhere to including government laws and regulations by the FCC that, if I fail to abide by, I can get fined for.