Dignity and emotional intelligence for enhancing intercultural learning and communicative competence

    Activity: Talks and presentationsTalks and presentations in private or public companies


    The humanitarian and UN diplomat Sergio Viera de Mello, regarded as a future UN Secretary General but who died in the bombing of the UN Headquarters in Iraq in 2003, said that the key to resolving global conflicts was individual dignity with intercultural understanding (3). It is not by chance that dignity should be viewed as crucial for resolving conflicts and improving human encounters, since it frees persons from social norms, emphasizing the inner qualities of persons as individuals with unique feelings, ideas and attitudes (2).
    Recognizing the individuality of persons is also an objective of intercultural communication from non-instrumental views, in contrast to functional strategies involving adaptation to or managing the Other. However, interacting with persons free from the social is arguably constrained by the group dynamics that form our mindsets (5).
    In contrast to knowledge based approaches to intercultural communication, I propose that interacting with dissimilar Others with individual dignity requires a form of intrapersonal skill called Emotional Intelligence, involving the self-process of accurate appraisal and expression of emotions in oneself and others (4).
    My presentation begins with a brief overview of the cultural history of dignity (1). Then in connection to the issues at stake raised in the literature concerning intercultural communication, I propose teaching Emotional Intelligence as a framework for exploring how the emotions may help us adjust and cope with experience, which would help in viewing ourselves and the Other with dignity for improving intercultural learning and communicative competence.

    1) Johnson, J. Prescott. 1971. Human Dignity and the Nature of Society. The Philosophy Forum. Vol. 9-10. 213-248.

    2) Philipsen, Gerry. 1992. Speaking Culturally: Explorations in Social Communication. State University of NY Press: New York.

    3) Power, Samantha. 2008. Chasing the Flame: Sergio Vieira De Mello and the Fight to Save the World. The Penguin Press: London.

    4) Salovey, Peter and John D. Mayer. 1990. Emotional Intelligence. Imagination, Cognition and Personality. Vol. 9. No. 3. 185-211.

    5) Ting-Toomey, Stella. 1999. Communicating Across Cultures. New York: Guilford Press.

    Period22. Nov 2012
    Event titleNordic Network for Intercultural Communication. The 19th NIC Symposium: Interncationalisation at home - Contact, Communication, Change
    Event typeConference
    LocationAarhus, DenmarkShow on map