culture clash 101


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Delivered at a workshop I led at the Huntington Beach School District development days. However contents are useful for most cultural miscalculations

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culture clash 101

  1. 1. Culture Clash 101 Culture is acquired knowledge people use to interpret experience and generate behavior. James Spadly - Anthropologist
  2. 2. “ Culture” can mean many things <ul><li>National Ethnic Culture </li></ul><ul><li>Secondary or subgroup </li></ul><ul><li>Culture in the anthropological sense </li></ul><ul><li>Capital “C” culture </li></ul>
  3. 3. Culture in an anthropological sense <ul><li>The meanings and behaviors groups of people develop and share over time. </li></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><li>Each culture is like a tool box with stacks of reference manuals of how to use the tools inside. Each tool performing a different function and meeting a different need in life. </li></ul><ul><li>The guidebooks show us how to use the tools inside and what are the expected results. </li></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>Cultural conflict occurs when we assume that everyone is using the same: </li></ul><ul><li>tool box </li></ul><ul><li>the same tools </li></ul><ul><li>the same manuals. </li></ul>
  6. 6. However we are all different…. <ul><li>Beside having different personalities </li></ul><ul><li>we all have our own set of values with </li></ul><ul><li>which we live by. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Cultural Values <ul><li>Time and Space </li></ul><ul><li>Western: monochronic – linear approach to time – focus on one event or interaction at a time – measured in units. Reverence for efficiency. </li></ul><ul><li>Eastern: polychronic – circular approach – focus is on many events happening simultaneously. there is a timeless quality to time. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Cultural Values <ul><li>Personal responsibility and Fate </li></ul><ul><li>Personal responsibility – Masters of our own lives. Can change and maneuver and choose the course of our lives. Expects- action and accountability </li></ul><ul><li>Fate – subject to things outside our control. Expects- respect for the natural order of things. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Cultural Values <ul><li>Face and Face-Saving </li></ul><ul><li>The image one projects of oneself or ones national image in a public forum. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Face and Face- Saving <ul><li>Low –context societies - (Western countries) verbal communication is most often direct. – little need for non verbal cues. People generally say what they mean and mean what they say. </li></ul><ul><li>High- context societies - (Eastern countries- Asia, Middle-east and Latin America – group harmony is the most important – dislike direct confrontation and avoid expressing a clear “no” Evasion and inaccuracy are preferred in order to keep appearances pleasant. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Face and Face- Saving <ul><li>Ways in which one can lose face: </li></ul><ul><li>Exposure to personal insult </li></ul><ul><li>Exposure to a derogatory remark or disregard for one’s status </li></ul><ul><li>Being forced to give up a cherished value </li></ul><ul><li>Failure to achieve goals </li></ul><ul><li>Revelation of personal inadequacy </li></ul><ul><li>Damage to a valued relationship </li></ul><ul><li>Key differences: Low-context wants to repair or build relationships while High-context wants to problem solve and move-on. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Non-Verbal communication
  13. 13. Non-Verbal communication <ul><li>Low-context cultures (U.S.A. and Canada) there is less emphasis to non-verbal communication. Meaning of words themselves is more important. </li></ul><ul><li>Bill Clinton: “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” </li></ul>
  14. 14. Non-Verbal communication <ul><li>High-Context Cultures- (Eastern Cultures) understanding the non-verbal components of communication is relatively more important to receiving the intended meaning of communication as a whole. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Non-Verbal communication <ul><li>Proximics - the ways we relate to space </li></ul><ul><li>North Americans tend to prefer a large amount of space </li></ul><ul><li>Europeans tend to stand more closely together when talking and are accustomed to smaller personal space. </li></ul>
  16. 16. Non-Verbal communication <ul><li>Proximics - the ways we relate to space </li></ul><ul><li>Problem with space preference is not that they exist- but rather the judgments that are attached to them. </li></ul>
  17. 17. Proximics - the ways we relate to space <ul><li>If you enjoy more personal space - you see people who stand to close as: pushy, disrespectful, or aggressive. </li></ul><ul><li>If you prefer less space – you see people who attempt to create more space between you as: cold, condescending, or having a lack of interest. </li></ul><ul><li>Neither is more correct – just different. </li></ul>
  18. 18. Professional Culture - Subgroup <ul><li>Huntington Beach Unified High School District </li></ul><ul><li>Hierarchy </li></ul><ul><li>the organization of people at different ranks in an administrative body. </li></ul>
  19. 19. HBUHSD Board of Directors Certificated Teachers Classified Personnel Administrative Assistants Instructional Aids Job developers Custodians and maintenance staff Clerical assistants Superintendent District Administrators Certified Administrators Assistant Principals
  20. 20. Professional Culture – Subgroup Huntington Beach Unified High School District <ul><li>What are the cultural values of HBUHSD? </li></ul><ul><li>Time and Space? </li></ul><ul><li>Personal Responsibility and Fate? </li></ul><ul><li>Face and Face Saving? </li></ul><ul><li>Proximics? </li></ul>
  21. 21. <ul><li> 3 signs that there is a clash of cultures: </li></ul><ul><li>1. There usually are complicated dynamics. cultural differences tend to create complex combinations of expectations about ones behavior and the behavior of others. </li></ul><ul><li>2. If addressing content and relational issues does not solve the conflict, it usually is rooted in cultural differences. </li></ul><ul><li>3. Conflict reoccurs or arises strong emotions even though the issue of disagreement is insignificant. </li></ul>
  22. 22. Levels of Cultural encounter <ul><li>Above water line: </li></ul><ul><li>Aspects of culture that are explicit, visible, and taught. </li></ul><ul><li>At the water line: </li></ul><ul><li>The area where implicit understandings become talked about, explained--mystical experiences are codified into a creed; the area where official explanations and teachings become irrational, contradictory, inexplicable--where theology becomes faith. </li></ul><ul><li>Below the waterline: </li></ul><ul><li>“ Hidden&quot; culture: the habits, assumptions, understandings, values, judgments ... that we know but do not or cannot articulate. </li></ul>THE ICEBERG
  23. 23. WHAT WAS THAT? <ul><li>STOP: </li></ul><ul><li>Notice that you are encountering cultural differences </li></ul><ul><li>Below the water line - or our assumptions. </li></ul>
  24. 24. WHAT WAS THAT? <ul><li>DESCRIBE: </li></ul><ul><li>What did you see and hear? Be as literal as possible. </li></ul>
  25. 25. WHAT WAS THAT? <ul><li>YOUR INTERPRETATION: </li></ul><ul><li>Spell out what your cultural interpretations and emotional reactions to the situation. </li></ul>
  26. 26. WHAT WAS THAT? <ul><li>THEIR POSSIBLE INTEPRETATIONS: </li></ul><ul><li>Imagine what possible interpretations the others involved in the situation might have. If you can, ask someone more familiar with that cultural group what these interpretations might be. </li></ul>
  27. 27. WHAT WAS THAT? <ul><li>EVALUATION: </li></ul><ul><li>Only now are you ready to analyze! </li></ul>
  28. 28. Steps to success in cultural conflict <ul><li>1 Break assumptions: </li></ul><ul><li>2. Empathize: </li></ul><ul><li>3. Involve: </li></ul><ul><li>4. Discourage Herd Mentality : </li></ul><ul><li>5. Shun insensitive behavior: </li></ul><ul><li>6. Be wise: </li></ul>
  29. 29. Break assumptions: <ul><li>Everyone has assumptions and can revert to stereotypes of another culture -- assumptions are beliefs rather than objective truth and are usually influenced by a number of subjective factors. Instead of using stereotypes as our guide we need to use objective truth about the person. </li></ul>
  30. 30. Empathize <ul><li>In order to appreciate and understand people from other cultures - empathy is vital - through putting yourself in someone else's shoes you come to see or appreciate their point of view. </li></ul>
  31. 31. Involve <ul><li>Rely on others and involve them in the tasks and decision making - it will empower the other and build stronger relationships. Cultural diversity is an asset to any decision making process because it brings so creativity and differing points of view. </li></ul>
  32. 32. Discourage herd mentality <ul><li>Herd mentality refers to a closed and one dimensional approach. Such a way of thinking will curb creativity, innovation, and advancement as people are restricted in how to think or approach and engage with people and challenges. Intercultural communication can only flourish and therefore contribute if people are encouraged to think as individuals, bring their cultural influences to the table and share ideas that may be outside the box. </li></ul>
  33. 33. Shun insensitive behavior <ul><li>People can and do behave in culturally insensitive ways by attacking someone's person you attack their culture and therefore their dignity. When insensitive behavior is witnessed - do not participate but instead it becomes your responsibility to shun it and ensure that it remains unacceptable. </li></ul>
  34. 34. Be wise <ul><li>Intercultural communication is essentially founded on wisdom - showing maturity of thought and action in dealing with people. Through working things out and having a background knowledge to intercultural differences - communication problems at the work place can be avoided. Remember you are always being watched by students who see and learn from your reactions. Wisdom and maturity are vital in this training. </li></ul>
  35. 35. Tips to be a culturally sensitive communicator <ul><li>Be aware of words, images and situations that suggest that all or most members of a racial group are the same. </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid using qualifiers that reinforce racial and ethnic stereotypes. </li></ul>
  36. 36. Tips to being a culturally sensitive communicator <ul><li>Avoid racial identification except when it is essential to communication. </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid language that has questionable racial or ethnic connotations. </li></ul><ul><li>Be aware of rules for attentiveness during conversation. </li></ul>
  37. 37. Tips to being a culturally sensitive communicator <ul><li>Be aware of rules regarding the distance between speakers during conversation. </li></ul><ul><li>Be aware that objects, characters and symbols may reflect different beliefs or values for different groups. </li></ul><ul><li>Be aware that cultures may vary in what they consider humorous or taboo. </li></ul>
  38. 38. Tips to being a culturally sensitive communicator <ul><li>Be aware of different rules for taking turns during conversations. </li></ul><ul><li>Cultures may use different standards for loudness, speed of delivery, silence, attentiveness and time to respond to another's point. </li></ul><ul><li>Be aware of different cultural rules for entering into conversations in progress. </li></ul>
  39. 39. Be a proficient cross-cultural communicator <ul><li>Slow Down </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t as two separate questions hidden into one question. </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid Negative Questions </li></ul><ul><li>Write it Down </li></ul><ul><li>Be Supportive </li></ul><ul><li>Check Meanings </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid Slang </li></ul><ul><li>Watch the humor </li></ul><ul><li>Maintain Etiquette </li></ul>
  40. 40. Cross cultural communication is about dealing with people from other cultures in a way that minimizes misunderstandings and maximizes your potential to create strong cross cultural relationships. The above tips should be seen as a starting point to greater cross cultural awareness.