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date: 28 February 2021

Identity Negotiation Theory and Mindfulness Practicelocked

  • Stella Ting-ToomeyStella Ting-ToomeyDepartment of Human Communications, California State University, Fullerton


Identity negotiation theory concerns the importance of negotiating sociocultural membership identity, sociorelational role identity, and unique personal identity issues in intercultural–intergroup boundary-crossing journeys. Here, primary cultural socialization and sustained culture contact experience is conceptualized as the primary regulator in terms of how individuals assign meanings, redefine identities, and draw boundaries in constructing their own and others’ social and personal selves. The theory emphasizes the importance of validating both salient sociocultural membership identity and personal identity features in promoting quality intergroup–interpersonal encounters. Identity-attuning individuals can promote competent intergroup communication via the intentional integration of identity-sensitive knowledge on both group-based and individualized identity responsiveness levels. They can also integrate a focused sense of mindfulness practice and promote conjoint identity understanding, respect, and meaning-centered engagement. Mindfulness practice means cultivating the capacity to see through our own internal assumptions, arising emotions, and intentions and, simultaneously, attending to the other person’s underlying assumptions, arising emotional reactions, and intentions without reactive judgment. It includes developing the ability to practice being in-the-moment orientation, to heighten meta-cognitive awareness, and to engage in responsive affective attunement and transparent resonance. It also includes communicating with cultural strangers appropriately, effectively, elastically, and with a keen sense of microsituational perceptiveness and macro-systems discernment.

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