Welcome to this free webinar session on Building Blocks of Cross- Cultural and Interpersonal Communication in the Workplace! In this session, you will learn more about the fundamentals of cross-cultural and interpersonal communication, and 7 tips for enhancing cross-cultural communication in your work environment. After a short 10 minute Q&A about the material in part 1, you will learn how to obtain more information about the services I offer, and ways to move forward.
Physical: Communication keeps us healthy. We are social beings, so when we are denied the opportunity for interaction, our mental and physical health can suffer. For example, Field (2001 ) reported that touch and human interaction are critical for infant’s survival and healthy development. Not only children and infants need interaction. Adults without social ties like close friendships and family, are more likely to suffer from heart disease, and high blood pressure, and to die prematurely. (Holt-Lunstad et. Al. (2010). They are also more likely to have other ailments like colds, and are less likely to recover from illness and injuries. (Kiecolt-Glaser et. Al (2005), Lemeshow et. Al. (2005), Cohen et. Al. (1997). Interaction and healthy communication plan an important role in maintaining well-being and human health. (And there are plenty more…) (Maybe add one or 2?)
Relational: Barbato et.al (2003) The basic needs are companionship, affection, relaxation and escape. Communication is a key factor of how we how people build and maintain relationships. Baxter (2004). Immigrants and those not part of majority culture have a harder time maintaining and cultivating relationships, due to cultural and language barriers. As a result, they often feel rejected, ignored, or lonely in the process. Usita, PM, Blieszener, R. (2002) .
Identity: Communication and interactions between people shape how they see themselves. (Yeung, Martin ,2003) Examples from Floyd (2011) = attractiveness, intelligence, comparison etc. How people treat us = highly influential in how we perceive ourselves Communication = key in driving identity development. Good communication = the ability to emphasize different aspects of your identity in different contexts. Cultural identity and ethnic identity are also expressed through communication.
Spiritual: Spirituality is also another need that is met through communication for many cultures. Spirituality involves people’s moral code, philosophy, religion (or lack thereof) , code of conduct, and practices. It doesn’t necessarily have to be ‘religious’ to be spiritual. Floyd (2011) / Astin, Astin & Lindholm (2010)
“Spirituality is recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us, and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion. Practicing spirituality brings a sense of perspective, meaning and purpose to our lives.” ― Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are
Instrumental needs: Short-term tasks like ordering a drink at a restaurant,, talking to colleagues etc. and long term goals like earning a promotion. These are need based that help us get through our lives everyday. Sometimes they can be emotionally charged. These basic communication needs must happen, before we can develop quality relationships and find fulfillment in our lives/ careers Floyd( 2011), Koltko-Rivera (2006)
Examples: E-mail, SMS, Voice mail
Noise = anything that interferes with the receiver’s ability to attend to the sender’s message. (Floyd, 2011) Examples: physical background noise, psychological noise (fatigue, hunger, anger etc.) Psychological and physical noise can cause us to misunderstand what someone is saying, or cause us to not hear things clearly.
First model to acknowledge context: Example convo at crowded coffee shop Psychological and physical context affects feedback
Example: Person talking to friend about his love interest in his house vs. at work
Difference between previous models: Both people are receivers and sources at the exact same time. Example: Child and parent’s relationship. Child wants ice-cream. Parent says “no” until after dinner. Child reacts , while parent is talking. Parent responds as child reacts.
Channels of Communication: he way this information flows within the organization, between people or between organizations. In the web known as communication, a manager becomes a link. Instructions or decisions flow upwards, downwards or sideways, depending on the position of the manager in the communication web.
People = key to give words their meaning: Examples of words that change their meaning based on context or culture: biscuit, cell, pot, flat etc. Symbol: representation of an idea, but the word itself isn’t the idea or meaning.
Perceptual Filters : Perceptual filters are ways we look at things based on expectations, assumptions, and experiences we've learned through life (worldview) .For example, a child who grows up with a dad who criticizes her mother may naturally assume that all men are this way and she may never have respect for men. This filter would most likely cause her to make very poor judgements in relationships, while everything else in her life may be perfect to the rest of the world.
Literal implications: Content dimension consisting of the literal information being communicated. Ex. We’re out of detergent… content dimension = we don’t have any detergent left. Jake called today. The content dimension = Jake called (informative)
Relational Implications: Signals about the nature of the relationship in which they are shared. Example: Jake calling could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on the relational implication, and also
Metacommunication: To negotiate between relational and literal communication, we often refer to Metacommunication, which is communication about communication. Person 1: Why are you taking my comments so personally? Person 2: It’s not what you said, it’s how you said it.
Intentional messages v. Unintentional messages: Example: Body language
Explicit v. implicit rules: Grammar = explicit rules ex. Present tense v. Past tense Implicit rules = How Americans behave in an elevator. Don’t make eye contact. Don’t get on if it’s already full. Don’t talk in the elevator. Don’t cut ahead of someone else etc. (This varies between cultures.
Break down: FALSE. Commmunication is more of a process that unfolds between and among people over time. It may be easy to blame a breakdown, but what is really happening is that we are not communicating effectively.
Communication like money is neither good nor bad. What really matters is how it’s used.
I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” ― Brené Brown
Polluck and Van Reken
The Iceberg metaphor for culture shows a cruise ship sailing close to the iceberg for a look at this foreign territory. Part of the iceberg is immediately visible; part of it emerges and submerges with the tides, and its foundations go deep beneath the surface. iceberg sketch
Above water line: Aspects of culture that are explicit, visible, taught. This includes written explanations, as well as those thousands of skills and information conveyed through formal lessons, such as manners or computing long division or baking bread. Also above water are the tangible aspects: from the "cultural markers" tourists seek out such as French bread or Guatemalan weaving, to the conformity in how people dress, the way they pronounce the letter "R", how they season their food, the way they expect and office to be furnished.
At the water line: The transition zone is where the cultural observer has to be more alert: "now you see it now you don't", 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.
Below the water line: "Hidden" culture: the habits, assumptions, understandings, values, judgments ... that we know but do not or cannot articulate. Usually these aspects are not taught directly. Think about mealtime, for example, and the order you eat foods at dinner: Do you end with dessert? With a pickle? With tea? Nuts and cheese? Just have one course with no concluding dish? Or, in these modern times, do you dispense with a sit-down meal altogether? Or consider how you know if someone is treating you in a friendly manner: do they shake hands? keep a respectful distance with downcast eyes? leap up and hug you? address you by your full name? These sorts of daily rules are learned by osmosis -- you may know what tastes "right" or when you're treated "right", but because these judgments are under-the-waterline, it usually doesn't occur to you to question or explain those feelings.
Ruth Van Reken
Penn, S. (2016). Cultural Communication Barriers in the Workplace. The Houston Chronicle. Retrieved August 22, 2016, from http://smallbusiness.chron.com/cultural-communication-barriers-workplace-13888.html
We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection. Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves. Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows. Love can only survive these injuries if they are acknowledged, healed and rare.” ― Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are
Hostile Stereotypes Inaccurate and hostile stereotypes of people from other places can be a barrier to communication in the workplace. Stereotypes are assumptions people make about the traits of members of a group. For example, a stereotypical American is thought to be impatient and arrogant as well as friendly and tolerant. The danger is entertaining stereotypes is that an individual is thought to possess characteristics that are ascribed to the group. Obviously, not all Americans are impatient and arrogant, nor are they all friendly and tolerant. Prejudging an individual can lead to misconceptions and barriers to communication. Behavior Differences Behavioral differences between employees of different cultures can cause misunderstandings. Every culture has guidelines about what is considered appropriate behavior. In some cultures, looking someone in the eye when they are talking to you is considered rude, while in other cultures refraining from doing so is considered disrespectful. Getting right to the point at a business meeting may be considered impolite by some, who expect to have" small talk" before the business discussion. Likewise, in some cultures, people talking to each other give each other space, while in other cultures, they stand close. These differences can be barriers to effective communication if they are not recognized. Emotional Display What is considered an appropriate display of emotion can differ from culture to culture. In some countries, displaying anger, fear or frustration in the workplace is considered inappropriate in a business setting. People from these cultures keep their emotions hidden and only discuss the factual aspects of the situation. In other cultures, participants in a discussion are expected to reveal their emotions. You can imagine what misunderstandings can arise if a businessperson displays strong emotion in the company of employees who feel that such behavior is out of place.
Floyd, Van Reken etc.
Individualism v. Collectivism: Individualistic culture: People believe that their primary responsibility is to themselves. Collectivist culture: Primary responsibility is to their families, communities, employees. Instead of emphasizing the individual, collectivists focus on taking care of the needs of the group. They value duty and loyalty and they see themselves as being part of the group. Example: Personal appearance: Maori people – tattoos reflect collectivism and being a member of a group, Americans – Tattoos = individuality
Low and High Context Cultures: Low context culture: People are expected to be direct, say what they mean and not ‘beat around the bush.” Example: Germany High context culture: People speak less directly, and try to avoid offending people. Avoiding conflict is more important than expressing feelings. People talk in less direct ways to convey meaning through subtle behaviors and contextual cues like facial expressions and tone of voice. Example: Japan
Low and High Power Distance: Low Power distance: A culture in which power is not highly concentrated in specific groups of people. High power distance: a culture in which much or most of the power is concentrated in a few people, such as royalty or a ruling class.
Masculine v. Feminine Cultures: Masculine culture: people tend to cherish traditional masculine values like ambition, achievement, and the acquisition of material goods. They also value sex-specific roles for men and women. Men= decision makers and breadwinners, and women = nurturing role . Feminine cultures- people value nurturance, quality of life and service to others. They also believe that men’s and women’s roles should not be differentiated. (Hofsteade )
Monochromic and Polychromic Cultures: Monochromatic: Time is a finite commodity that can be earned, saved, spent and wasted. Example : Swiss and USA cultures Polychromatic: A concept that treats time as an infinite resource rather than a finite commodity. Examples: Saudi Arabia, Peru etc. This can be seen when people get ready for an event. How do they respond?
Uncertainty Avoidance: The degree to which people try to avoid situations that are unstructured, unclear and unpredictable. Cultures that accept high levels of uncertainty = NZ, Jamaica Low levels of uncertainty: Uruguay, Argentina and Portugal … USA tends to be on the midpoint of the scale, but closer to uncertainty avoidant.
In Group: A group of people with whom one identifies.
Out Group: A group of people with whom one does not identify.
Ethnocentrism: Systematic preference for characteristics of one’s own culture.
Privilege: a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group.
Racism: the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races. Also, prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one's own race is superior.
Reverse Racism: phenomenon in which discrimination, sometimes officially sanctioned, against a dominant or formerly dominant racial or other group representative of the majority in a particular society takes place, for a variety of reasons, often initially as an attempt at redressing past wrongs. Example: South Africa: Nelson Mandela in 1995 described "racism in reverse" when Black students demonstrated in favor of changing the racial makeup of staff at South African universities. Students denied Mandela's claim and argued that a great deal of ongoing actual racism persisted from apartheid. ..Claims of reverse racism continued into the 21st century. Helen Suzman, a prominent white anti-apartheid politician, charged the African National Congress and the Mbeki administration with reverse racism since Mandela's departure in 1999.
“What separates privilege from entitlement is gratitude.” ― Brené Brown
“If you want to make a difference, the next time you see someone being cruel to another human being, take it personally. Take it personally because it is personal!” ― Brené Brown, I Thought It Was Just Me: Women Reclaiming Power and Courage in a Culture of Shame
“We cannot selectively numb emotions, when we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions.” ― Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are
When idioms and phrases get lost in translation:
Communication Codes: Verbal and non-verbal behaviours, such as idioms and gestures, that characterize a culture and distinguish it from other cultures. Idioms, Jargon, Gestures Idioms.
In I Thought it Was Just Me (But It Isn't) (2008), Brown references nursing scholar Theresa Wiseman's four attributes of empathy:
To be able to see the world as others see it—This requires putting your own "stuff" aside to see the situation through your loved one's eyes.
To be nonjudgmental—Judgement of another person's situation discounts the experience and is an attempt to protect ourselves from the pain of the situation.
To understand another person’s feelings—We have to be in touch with our own feelings in order to understand someone else's. Again, this requires putting your own "stuff" aside to focus on your loved one.
To communicate your understanding of that person’s feelings—Rather than saying, "At least you..." or "It could be worse..." try, "I've been there, and that really hurts," or (to quote an example from Brown) "It sounds like you are in a hard place now. Tell me more about it.”
Receive Accept Summarize Ask
“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It's about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” ― Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are
“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”― Brené Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change….Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren't always comfortable, but they're never weakness.” ― Brené Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
“Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.” ― Brené Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
“Staying vulnerable is a risk we have to take if we want to experience connection.” ― Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are
Cognitive Complexity: ( Don’t jump to inaccurate conclusions about the meaning of a behavior. Think through scenarios, and try to understand. )