Ethics of Voice
As it is known, interpersonal relationship is a crucial component of successful socializing. Scholars define communication as “the use of available resources to convey information, to move, to inspire, to persuade, to enlighten, to connect” (Makau 1). It is important to clarify that, regardless of its function, communication is supposed to be subordinated to ethical and moral norms that are set in a native society. At the same time, social globalization increases the need to interact in the conditions of multiculturalism, which requires advancing communicative skills. It is identified that communication ethics “focus on intentions, means, and consequences” (Makau 1). Besides, “some approaches to communication ethics focus primarily on duties, obligations, rights, and responsibilities, while others emphasize the importance of dispositional traits and related abilities, referred to by many as virtues”(Makau 1). In any case, ethical approach in maintaining interpersonal relations is critically important. It is necessary to clarify that being ethical means making the right choices; it is the ability to correctly define the right from the wrong either in conditions of multiculturalism or in the universal meaning. This paper aims at observing my choices of ethical approaches while communicating in different social spheres, which presumes the use of different voices.
To begin with, it is necessary to define that most commonly I use two voices: the first is professional one, which requires implementing academic language and corresponding approaches towards world’s cognition as well as towards communication with my professors and group-mates. Typically, my professional voice is English since education is conducted in this language. At the same time, the second voice is private and is used to communicate with my family members and friends. In this social field I use my native language, which is Chinese. As it is seen, language is an important difference between my two voices. Apart from language, these voices have a number of other differences that are stipulated by both my background and present life in the conditions of multiculturalism.
For instance, my native culture presumes high power distance while communicating with older people. Thus, I feel a strong influence of this cultural peculiarity into both of my voices. In particular, both in the University and at home, I feel compelled to reveal respect towards senior people. It is manifested through verbal and non-verbal means of communication. Considering the example, either using English or Chinese, I speak quietly and politely. I always do my best to give full and timely response because I understand that it is important for my communicators. This cultural approach is strengthened with non-verbal means of communication such as appropriate mimics and gestures that are meant to express respect and tolerance. As it is seen from the above-revealed information, ethical communication is always about making choices. These choices are affected by one’s cultural background, in my case, by my Chinese heritage. Nevertheless, even if the choice is complicated with the conditions of multiculturalism, applying to ethical decision-making it is possible to correctly use the transposition.
Apart from the above-discussed similarity between the use of my professional and personal voices, which is predefined by cultural attitudes, there are differences in the ways I communicate in different social fields. Specifically, the main diversity is the use of formal versus informal language. In addition, this particularity is accompanied by the use of formal and informal intonations and body language. One can rightfully presume that this aspect is closely related to the expression of respect towards adults and other people. Nonetheless, despite obvious resemblance, the difference between high/low power distance and formal/informal communication is that my personal voice can reveal informal communication at all levels (language, body), at the same time remaining respectful. At the same time, my professional voice is characterized by respect and formal approaches in communication. For instance, joking, laughing, and teasing are a part of my personal voice; however, I limit the use of these activities each time I utilize my professional voice.
It is appropriate to emphasize that both of my voices (professional and personal) are subordinated to certain goals. Comprehending the importance of remaining ethical, I strive to align the ways in which I achieve the set goals with ethical values. In practice, which means I do my best, to avoid harsh words and intonations. Besides, I restrain my body language from expressing negative emotions because of the strongly formed cultural attitude of respect and tolerance.
Simultaneously, the conditions of the mixed culture have taught me that being assertive in standing my ground is critically important. This idea suggests that to succeed in debates and/or persuasion I must be capable of expressing my emotions, which in practice presumes raising voice and speaking quite passionately. Comprehending this cultural diversity and applying to ethical decision-making, I chose to speak with more assertiveness while using professional voice at the University. On the other hand, I use more peace-making and tolerant intonations when I talk to my family and friends. This differentiation is subordinated to my goals. In particular, when I utilize professional speech I am more determined to stand my ground and convince people that my point of view is correct. At the same time, when I use personal speech I am more open to negotiations and giving my dear ones their way. I believe that in this way the use of diverse voices serves to remain ethical while helping me accomplish my goals and maintain the appropriate social functions.
Continuing to evaluate my ethical choices that affect interpersonal relations, I should point out that I never apply to hostility or reveal mistrust to strangers. It goes without saying that cultural diversity is a challenge in terms of communication because it may adversely impact its effectiveness. Nevertheless, due to the fact that my views were greatly shaped by the need to maintain communication ethics in the conditions of multiculturalism, I trained myself to accept calmly various untypical and unexpected manifestations of cultural attitudes of other people. This approach is a rule of a thumb for both professional and personal voices.
Besides, I should admit that to succeed in communication one should learn to avoid conflicts of communicative approaches. It is not surprising that the urge for truthfulness and the need to protect one’s own interests are the most frequent conflicting ways of thinking. Without a doubt, this conflict is equally typical for both voices as well as for all social levels of communication. Ethical values shape my consciousness by forming the adverse attitude towards lying. At the same time, I realize that deception can be critically important for accomplishing goals and even for maintaining communication ethics. While the first supposition is understandable, the second requires clarification: there are situations when it is unethical to tell the truth. Estimating these conflicting notions, it becomes clear that I should apply to so-called Principle of Veracity (Makau 4). It suggests that one should aim at adhering to truthfulness instead of sheer truth. This approach is ethical and moral, thus, I deploy it in my professional and personal communication.
In conclusion, interpersonal communication is highly important for achieving success in all social spheres as it helps realizing internal goals and motives. To excel in this task, I use two voices, personal (to communicate with friends and family) and professional (to interact at the University). These voices are divided by languages: my native language, Chinese, is mostly used for personal communication, meanwhile professional speeches are conducted in English. These voices have a number of similarities and differences. Among similarities I should highlight an endeavor to display respect and tolerance, the principle of truthfulness, and avoidance of expressing negative verbal and non-verbal reactions. Similarly, the diversities between my professional and personal voices are represented with opposite approaches of assertiveness/peace-making and the implementation of formal/informal languages.