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Intercultural Communication

Intercultural Communication in Business MeetingIntercultural Task ForcesIntercultural Business RelationshipIntecultural Negotiations ManagementIntercultural Analysis Skills

Strategic Intercultural Communication

The Strategic Intercultural Communication Model (SIM) or "4 Distances Model - (4DM) has been developed by the European Researcher Daniele Trevisani.

The first appearance of the model dates back to Dr. Daniele Trevisani's Thesis on International and Intercultural Communication ad Bologna University, Dept. of Communication Science, in 1990. The Model has been presented to the Fulbright Commission (USA) that awarded Dr. Daniele Trevisani the "Fulbright Grant" for advancing his research and studies in the US. A first presentation of the model appeared on the 9th International and Intercultural Communication Conference (University of Miami) in 1992

Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Comunication 4 Distances Model

What the model is about

Intercultural Communication Theories deal very often with "differences" in communication rather than on the result of interaction. The 4 Distances Model provides instead a framework for Intercultural Communication in which we can start analyzing 4 major "Communication Distances":

  • D1: Role Distance (Identity Distances and Biological Distances)

  • D2: Code Distance (Communication Codes Distance: Internal Content and External Language and Communication Style)

  • D3: Value Distance (Ideological Distance, internal values and peripheral attitudes)

  • D4: Referential Distance (Personal History Distance, personal emotional history and personal objectual history)

The basic law of intercultural communication is that interaction becomes harder and harder the higher the distances. Not only. One distance influences another, so that, a Communication Codes distance might inhibit the search for a "common ground" in roles that can work at least for establishing a first relational platform. Or it can block the search for common values and generate misunderstandings.

The "4 Distances Intercultural model" provides a framework for "entering" the relational distances that are present in everyday interactions on the job, in the firm-client relational world, in the leader-team relational situations, and in every other aspect of human communication.

Intercultural theories derived from the 4 Distances Model have been successfully applied to UN Blue Helmets training for Peacekeeping operations, to ESA conferences on Human Factor in spaceflights, and in hundreds of corporate seminars.


Types of available Intercultural Communication consulting services connected to the Model:

  • Workshop Intervention on Intercultural Communication and Strategic Communications

  • Workshop on "Conducting Effective Intercultural Negotiation"

  • Intercultural Team Building Training and Consulting

  • Strategic Consulting for Intercultural Business Teams

  • Strategic Consulting for Intercultural Scientific Teams

  • Strategic Consulting for Intercultural Special Interests Teams

  • Strategic Consulting for Intercultural Organizational Development

  • Strategic Training & Business Coaching for Intercultural Negotiations Skills

  • Services for Consulates and Embassies on improving cross-cultural business relations

Intercultural Interventions

  • Theme 1: Strategic Intercultural Negotiation Skills (Face-to-Face)

  • Theme 2: Strategic Intercultural Communication and Influence (Holistic Communication Approach)

  • Theme 2: Intercultural Business Negotiation and Complex Sales (Ation Line Method™, by Daniele Trevisani)

Team Building in Intercultural Environments: Internal Intercultural and Cross-cultural actions

  • Intercultural Team-Building Workshops for International Managers and Cross-Cultural Equipes

  • Development of Intercultural Communication and Team Building Events

  • The Cross-Cultural Crew

  • Cross-Cultural Crew Management

  • Intercultural Crew Communications Analysis and Management

Building cross cultural teams

  • Consulting services for: Building the Intercultural Strategy Group within the Company

  • Consulting services for: Building the Intercultural Business Team on site

  • Consulting services for: Building the Intercultural Operations Team within the Company

Special Areas of Intercultural Training, Intercultural Communication and Intercultural Coaching

Other advanced research areas on Intercultural Competences

  • Human Potential, Human Factor in Culturally Diverse Organizations,

  • Cross Cultural Communication Campaigns,

  • Crew Management in Challenging Environments and Working Under Pressure in Intercultural Teams


Tools for Intercultural Communication Training and Coaching

  • Intercultural Positive Psychology

  • Intercultural TeamWork

  • Intercultural Management and Project Management

  • Leadership in Intercultural Environments

  • Crisis Management in Intercultural Environments

  • Cross-cultural analysis

  • Applied communication skills, such as Listening skills and emphatic skills interviewing, public speaking, delivering effective presentations in International Meetings, intercultural meeting management.

Link to the downloadable paper

Link to the book on Amazon (In Italian)

Trevisani, Daniele (2005), "Negoziazione Interculturale: Comunicazione oltre le barriere culturali", Milano, Franco Angeli (Translated title: "Intercultural Negotiation: Communication Beyond Cultural Barriers".) ISBN 9788846466006

Link to relevant Wikipedia articles on Intercultural Communication

Full wikipedia Article on Intercultural Competence

Intercultural competence

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Intercultural competence is the ability to communicate effectively and appropriately with people of other cultures:[1]

  • Appropriately. Valued rules, norms, and expectations of the relationship are not violated significantly.
  • Effectively. Valued goals or rewards (relative to costs and alternatives) are accomplished.

In interactions with people from foreign cultures, a person who is interculturally competent understands the culture-specific concepts of perception, thinking, feeling, and acting.

Intercultural competence is also called "cross-cultural competence" (3C).





Cultures can be different not only between continents or nations but also within the same company and even within the same family. The differences may be ethical, ethnic, geographical, historical, moral, political, or religious.

The basic requirements for intercultural competence are empathy, an understanding of other people's behaviors and ways of thinking, and the ability to express one's own way of thinking. It is a balance, situatively adapted, among four parts:

  • Knowledge (about other cultures and other people's behaviors)
  • Empathy (understanding the feelings and needs of other people)
  • Self-confidence (knowledge of one's own desires, strengths, weaknesses, and emotional stability)
  • Cultural identity (knowledge of one's own culture)

Cross-cultural competence

Main article: Cultural competence

Cross-cultural competence (3C) has generated confusing and contradictory definitions because it has been studied by a wide variety of academic approaches and professional fields. One author identified eleven different terms that have some equivalence to 3C: cultural savvy, astuteness, appreciation, literacy or fluency, adaptability, terrain, expertise, competency, awareness, intelligence, and understanding.[2] The United States Army Research Institute, which is currently engaged in a study of 3C has defined it as "A set of cognitive, behavioral, and affective/motivational components that enable individuals to adapt effectively in intercultural environments."[3]

Organizations in academia, business, health care, government security, and developmental aid agencies have all sought to use 3C in one way or another. Poor results have often been obtained due to a lack of rigorous study of 3C and a reliance on "common sense" approaches.[2]

Cross-cultural competence does not operate in a vacuum, however. One theoretical construct posits that 3C, language proficiency, and regional knowledge are distinct skills that are inextricably linked, but to varying degrees depending on the context in which they are employed. In educational settings, Bloom's affective and cognitive taxonomies[4][5] serve as an effective framework for describing the overlapping areas among these three disciplines: at the receiving and knowledge levels, 3C can operate with near-independence from language proficiency and regional knowledge. But, as one approaches the internalizing and evaluation levels, the overlapping areas approach totality.

The development of intercultural competence is mostly based on the individual's experiences while he or she is communicating with different cultures. When interacting with people from other cultures, the individual experiences certain obstacles that are caused by differences in cultural understanding between two people from different cultures. Such experiences may motivate the individual to acquire skills that can help him to communicate his point of view to an audience belonging to a different cultural ethnicity and background.

Immigrants and international students

A salient issue, especially for people living in countries other than their native country, is the issue of which culture they should follow: their native culture or the one in their new surroundings.

International students also face this issue: they have a choice of modifying their cultural boundaries and adapting to the culture around them or holding on to their native culture and surrounding themselves with people from their own country. The students who decide to hold on to their native culture are those who experience the most problems in their university life and who encounter frequent culture shocks. But international students who adapt themselves to the culture surrounding them (and who interact more with domestic students) will increase their knowledge of the domestic culture, which may help them to "blend in" more. Such individuals may be said to have adopted bicultural identities.

Cultural differences

See also: Geert Hofstede

Cultural characteristics can be measured along several dimensions. The ability to perceive them and to cope with them is fundamental for intercultural competence. These characteristics include:

  • Collectivism
    • Interdependence of every human;
    • Reverse of individualism;
    • High priority on group than individual;
    • Collectivist cultures include Pakistan, India and Japan.
  • Individualism[6]
    • moral worth of individual;
    • promote the exercise of one's goals and desires and so value independence and self-reliance;
    • advocate that interests of the individual should achieve precedence over the state or a social group;
    • Liberalism, existentialism and anarchism are examples of movements that take the human individual
  • Masculine
    • characteristics or roles appropriate to, a man;
    • Opposite can be expressed by terms such as "unmanly'" or epicene.
    • Masculinity pertains to societies in which social gender roles are clearly distinct
  • Feminine[6]
    • set of attributes, behaviors, and roles generally associated with girls and women;
    • made up of both socially defined and biologically created factors;
    • Traits traditionally cited as feminine include gentleness, empathy, and sensitivity.
    • Femininity pertains to societies in which social gender roles overlap.
  • Uncertainty avoidance[6]
    • reflects the extent to which members of a society attempt to cope with anxiety by minimizing uncertainty;
    • uncertainty avoidance dimension expresses the degree to which a person in society feels uncomfortable with a sense of uncertainty and ambiguity;
    • Countries exhibiting strong Uncertainty avoidance Index or UAI maintain rigid codes of belief and behavior and are intolerant of unorthodox behavior and ideas. Weak UAI societies maintain a more relaxed attitude in which practice counts more than principles;
    • People in cultures with high uncertainty avoidance tend to be more emotional. Low uncertainty avoidance cultures accept and feel comfortable in unstructured situations or changeable environments and try to have as few rules as possible;
    • People in these cultures tend to be more pragmatic, they are more tolerant of change.
  • Power distance[6]
    • people in some cultures accept a higher degree of unequally distributed power than do people in other cultures;
    • high power distance culture the relationship between bosses and subordinates is one of dependence;
    • low power distance society the relationship between bosses and subordinates is one of interdependence;
    • People in high distance countries tend to believe that power and authority are facts of life
  • Chronemics:
  • Monochrone
    • time-fixed, "one after the other”
    • Doing one thing at a time
    • Involved with doing the job
    • Time commitments taken seriously
    • Follows plan
    • Deals with short-term relations
    • Narrow focus
    • Lower risk tolerance
    • Self-reliant ethic
    • Sequential tasks
    • Positional power
  • Polychrone[6]
    • Many things at the same time, "multitasking". Also called "long-term orientation."
    • Involved with family, friends, customers
    • Commitments in time mean little
    • Changes plan
    • Builds lifetime relationships
    • Big picture
    • Higher risk tolerance
    • Networking focus
    • Simultaneous engineering
    • Charismatic leadership
    • Intuitive
    • Error-tolerant system
  • Structural characteristics:


The assessment of cross-cultural competence is another field that is rife with controversy. One survey identified 86 assessment instruments for 3C.[7] A United States Army Research Institute study narrowed the list down to ten quantitative instruments that were suitable for further exploration of their reliability and validity.[3]

The following characteristics are tested and observed for the assessment of intercultural competence as an existing ability or as the potential to develop it: ambiguity tolerance, openness to contacts, flexibility in behavior, emotional stability, motivation to perform, empathy, metacommunicative competence, and polycentrism.

Quantitative assessment instruments

Three examples of quantitative assessment instruments are:[3]

Qualitative assessment instruments

Research in the area of 3C assessment, while thin, points to the value of qualitative assessment instruments in concert with quantitative ones.[10][11][12] Qualitative instruments, such as scenario-based assessments, are useful for gaining insight into intercultural competence.[13][14][15][16]

Intercultural coaching frameworks, such as the ICCA™ (Intercultural Communication and Collaboration Appraisal), do not attempt an assessment; they provide guidance for personal improvement based upon the identification of personal traits, strengths, and weaknesses.[17][18]

An interesting aspect in management offers Riether in his book "Business Cooperation - cultural Integration as Keyfactor - Reasons for Failing and improving chances for success" of business-related cooperation and globalization. He assumes in his CRT-model that Communication, Relationship building and Trust are the essential factors to enable cooperation.[19] Integration is not just to understand the other but to accept and to integrate the others behavior i.e. to act in a way which the other will understand, accept but also to meet expectations[19]


It is important that cross-cultural competence training and skills does not break down into the application of stereotypes. Although its goal is to promote understanding between groups of individuals that, as a whole, think differently, it may fail to recognize specific differences between individuals of any given group. Such differences can be more significant than the differences between groups, especially in the case of heterogeneous populations and value systems.[20]

Madison (2006)[21] has criticized the tendency of 3C training for its tendency to simplify migration and cross-cultural processes into stages and phases. Madison's article offers an outline of the original research.

See also a recent article by Witte summarizing objections to cultural theories used in business and social life.[22]

See also


Intercultural Business Skills DevelopmentIntercultural Communication: Managing Setting and EnvironmentIntercultural and International PresentationsIntercultural Project Management

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Dr. Daniele Trevisani International Trainer, International Coach, International Speaker, Sports Coaching, Life Coaching, Business Coaching. Mail Address

International Trainer, International Coach, International Speaker Dr. Daniele Trevisani, Sports Coaching, Life Coaching, Business CoachingMarketing Research & ConsultingConsultants in Marketing and CommunicationCommunication and Marketing Training, Human Resources TrainingHuman Potential, Resources Development, Counseling Specialist in Europe

Dr. Daniele Trevisani - Master of Arts in Mass Communication, University of Florida (USA) - Fulbright Scholar, Intercultural Communication, American University of Washington, DC (USA) - Certified Advanced Coach by STEP™ - Certified Counselor by STEP™ - Certified Coaching Supervisor by STEP™ - Certified Counseling Supervisor by STEP™ - Master Trainer HPM™ Human Potential Method - Master Trainer ALM™ Business Coaching Method - Master Trainer HPM™ Intercultural Communication Method

Areas of Intervention

Europe Austria Belgium Denmark Finland France Germany Greece Italy Ireland Luxembourg Norway Portugal Spain Sweden Switzerland United Kingdom Yugoslavia East-Europe Bulgaria Croatia Czech Republic Hungary Poland Romania Russia Slovakia Slovenia- Further: India, China, Far East. Arab Countries, Mediterranean Region and Balkan Region, Canada, United States, Far East, Middle East, Japan, China, Korea


I Master Metodo HPM (Sviluppo manageriale del potenziale personale) e Metodo ALM (Master privato in Marketing Management) condotti direttamente dal Dott. Daniele Trevisani

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