By linguistic analysis, the terms coexistence and cohabitation are different, yet related.  Coexistence clearly means existing simultaneously, whereas, cohabitation implies living harmoniously together with others.  This seminar focused primarily on the differences between these two terms and why these differences are important to comprehend.  They supplied the following three:

  1. coexistence implies time and cohabitation implies interaction and harmonious relationship
  2. coexistence is a term used with both animate and inanimate objects while cohabitation refers mainly to animate objects (i.e., human beings)
  3. coexistence may be used negatively, while cohabitation is primarily used positively

Thus, if coexistence is inevitable, then all individuals involved should realize what it means to cohabitate.   And, therefore, these individuals should follow the guidelines below:

  1. Be flexible and willing to put effort into accommodating others.
  2. Be tolerant and merciful, accepting the differences.
  3. Establish standards and set up ground rules for shared space and responsibilities.
  4. Expect conflict and be prepared with peaceful ways of resolving it.

In order to promote harmonious living among different cultures, it was recommended that one follow the principles of interculturalism:

  1. All people are equal, but not identical.
  2. Eliminate stereotypes.
  3. Interculturalism affects both host society and immigrant.
  4. Culture is more than ‘history’, it’s new practices, ideas, and beliefs because culture is always changing.
  5. Identify ‘traditional’ injustice and create change.
  6. View conflict positively, in that it’s a chance to right wrongs and work towards resolution.

Intercultural communication

Communicative competence encompasses much more than just language or culture.  According to a model proposed by Usó-Juan and Martínez-Flor (2006), it involves linguistic, pragmatic, strategic, intercultural, and discourse competences as well.  Below is a graphic illustrating this model.

Usó-Juan & Martínez-Flor, 2006

Hence, effective intercultural communication is not simply verbal communication (linguistic competence), but also nonverbal.  This nonverbal communication may be placed under intercultural competence (i.e., body language, use of space, touching, or silence).  Additionally, intercultural competence is being aware of one’s own culture and rethinking one’s values and cultural identity, becoming aware of any ethnocentric beliefs one might hold.  It also involves the elimination of negative stereotypes even though it is deeply rooted in the culture or language.  Once aware of these viewpoints one must work toward understanding the behavior of others by communicating.  By communicating, emotions are shared and empathy grows.  Relationships thrive on empathy for one another.  The following short video both articulates and illustrates this point well.

Furthermore, misunderstandings are normal.  They will occur more often than not between two or more different cultures.  Therefore, it is necessary for those involved to develop the skill of metacommunication, that is, to voice the meaning of our messages clearly, saying not only what we mean, but also what effects of our words should cause.  Finally, when communicating interculturally, all parties involved should recognize unbalanced power and work towards creating a more balanced playing field.