2. Understanding the Communication Process

Throughout your life in Canada and abroad, you have no doubt become aware of differences in communication styles. This lesson will help expand your thinking about communication, including the mix of symbolism, culture, and perception that we all bring as we relate to each other. As you go through the content, think about how these factors could impact communication during the interview process. 

Understanding Communication Challenges

In this first video, we will be introduced to Amisi, an internationally educated health professional, and Joan, a nurse manager, before they meet for a job interview that day. As we watch them prepare for the day, the narrator will outline some elements of communication that can present challenges or sources of miscommunication. The text below summarizes these challenges.

(To read along click here.)


Communication is symbolic. It can be very challenging to express exactly what we are thinking and feeling to another person. Once a thought leaves our brain, the words we choose, our tone of voice, our facial expressions and gestures—all symbols of our original thought—influence the way it’s received by someone else. In return, the response we hear back is merely a symbol of the other person’s original thought.


Now add culture to the mix. With a different understanding of language, tone of voice, facial expressions and gestures, the chances of the other person interpreting your symbolic message as you intended it—and of you interpreting theirs—drops even lower.

Your communication style is unique to you, formed through your experiences with your family, culture, education, profession, and your own personal characteristics. These influences lead you to perceive the world and interpret communication in a particular way.


Perception is how we select, organize and evaluate information, and this process is far from perfect. Perception is learned and selective, and it is culturally determined. It tends to remain constant, and in fact perceptions can be difficult to change. Perceptions can also be a source of miscommunication.

In the next lesson, we will explore some of Amisi’s preparations before the interview.

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