Look at the quotations and explain what the authors meant:
We didn't all come over on the same ship, but we're all in the same boat. – Bernard Baruch, American financier and statesman.
Share our similarities, celebrate our differences. – M Scott Peck, American author
England and America are two countries separated by the same language. – attributed to G.B. Shaw, Irish writer
Have you ever been abroad? If yes, what do you miss about your own country and culture when you go broad?
Look at the following tips for visiting a new country or doing business there. Use the words from the box to complete the tips. Which of the tips you think a) very useful b) useful c) not useful?
date clothes hours money book customs cards food language
Always take…..in US dollars.
Find out about the normal working….
Be careful how you write the….
Find out about the most important …. and festivals.
Learn how to speak a little of local ….
Read a…about the history of the country.
Eat some of the …before you go.
Translate you …into the local language.
What is culture? Choose four factors which you think are the most important in creating a culture. Give your reasons.
climate institutions ideas and beliefs cuisine language arts religion geography
historical events social customs and traditions ceremonies and festivals architecture
Do you think cultures are becoming more alike? Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Give your reasons. Think about:
Cheap foreign ravel
nounsanxiety - беспокойство, тревога, опасение
approach - подход (к решению проблемы, задачи)
awareness - информированность, осведомлённость; осознание, понимание
background - условие, исходные данные; предпосылка; происхождение, биографические данные; связи, окружение (всё, что связано с жизнью человека)
challenge - сложная задача, проблемa; требовать (усилий, стараний) , стать испытанием (чьих-л. способностей, возможностей)
clue - ключ (к разгадке чего-л.)
controversy - полемика, спор; разногласия
courtesy - учтивость, обходительность, вежливость, любезность; правила вежливости, этикет
cross-cultural communication – межкультурная коммуникация
curiosity - любознательность
diversity - разнообразие; многообразие
encouragement - ободрение; поощрение; поддержка
expat - экспат а) (человек, добровольно покинувший родину и живущий длительное время за границей) б) (иностранный сотрудник компании - в отличие от сотрудника, нанятого на месте
eye contact – зрительный контакт
feedback - отклик, отзыв, ответная реакция
hostility - враждебность
hypocrite - лицемер, ханжа
icebreaker - расслабляющее замечание; приём, снимающий напряжение (в общении)
judgement - взгляд, мнение, суждение
message - основная тема, идея (какого-л. произведения, сообщения)
notion – понятие
persistence - настойчивость, стойкость, упорство, непоколебимость
requirement - требование; необходимое условие
resentment - негодование, возмущение; чувство обиды
straightforwardness - прямота, честность; откровенность
subservience - раболепие, подобострастие, угодничество, подхалимствоtension – напряжение; неестественность, неловкость (ситуации и т. п.)
adjectivesappropriate - подходящий, соответствующий; должный
confusing - сбивающий с толку
divergent - отклоняющийся, отходящий (от какого-л. направления) 3) отличающийся, отличный, другой
embarrassed - смущённый; сконфуженный; сбитый с толку, растерянный
intimidating – устрашающий
prejudiced - необъективный, предвзятый, пристрастный, тенденциозный
receptive – восприимчивый
reserved - скрытный, сдержанный, замкнутый, необщительный, неразговорчивый
self-conscious - застенчивый, стеснительный, легко смущающийся
unambiguous - недвусмысленный, точно выраженный
unique - уникальный
verbs and verb constructions
(be) characterized – характеризоваться
acknowledge - допускать, признавать
adjust - приспосабливаться, привыкать
aggravate - отягчать, усугублять; ухудшать; обострять, углублять, усиливать
anticipate - ожидать, предвидеть; предчувствовать
appreciate - оценивать, (высоко) ценить; быть признательным, благодарным; принимать во внимание
assume - допускать, предполагать
attain - достигать, добираться
confirm - подтверждать, подкреплять
enhance - увеличивать, усиливать, улучшать (обычно какое-л. положительное свойство)
ensure - гарантировать, обеспечивать; удостовериться, убедиться (в чём-л.)
expect - ждать, ожидать; полагать, предполагать
intelligible - вразумительный, понятный, четкий, ясный
make sure - убедиться; удостовериться
notorious - пользующийся дурной славой; печально известный; пресловутый; отъявленный
overwhelm - ошеломлять, поражать, потрясать; переполнять, овладевать (о чувствах)
reduce - ослаблять, понижать, сокращать, уменьшать
value - дорожить, ценить, быть высокого мнения, отдавать должное
As you work through the texts and exercises write out the words that you consider to be key words for the topic. Make a list of them and then work in chain to ask your group-mates English\Russian equivalents of the words in your list.
Exercise 1. Read and translate the text.
All communication is cultural -- it draws on ways we have learned to speak and give nonverbal messages. We do not always communicate the same way from day to day, since factors like context, individual personality, and mood interact with the variety of cultural influences we have internalized that influence our choices. Communication is interactive, so an important influence on its effectiveness is our relationship with others. Do they hear and understand what we are trying to say? Are they listening well? Are we listening well in response? Do their responses show that they understand the words and the meanings behind the words we have chosen? Is the mood positive and receptive? Is there trust between them and us? Are there differences that relate to ineffective communication, divergent goals or interests, or fundamentally different ways of seeing the world? The answers to these questions will give us some clues about the effectiveness of our communication and the ease with which we may be able to move through conflict.
The challenge is that even with all the good will in the world, miscommunication is likely to happen, especially when there are significant cultural differences between communicators. Miscommunication may lead to conflict, or aggravate conflict that already exists. We make - whether it is clear to us or not - quite different meaning of the world, our places in it, and our relationships with others.
Exercise 2. Make up 3 questions to the text.
Exercise 3. Work in pairs, ask and answer the questions from the previous exercise.
Exercise 1. Read and translate the text.
Cross-Cultural Communication – The New Norm
It's no secret that today's workplace is rapidly becoming vast, as the business environment expands to include various geographic locations and span numerous cultures. What can be difficult, however, is understanding how to communicate effectively with individuals who speak another language, or who rely on different means to reach a common goal.
The Internet and modern technology have opened up new marketplaces that allow us to promote our businesses to new geographic locations and cultures. And given that it can now be as easy to work with people remotely as it is to work face-to-face, cross-cultural communication is increasingly the new norm. In this new world, good cross-cultural communication is a must.
Understanding Cultural Diversity
Without getting into cultures and sub-cultures, it is perhaps most important for people to realize that a basic understanding of cultural diversity is the key to effective cross-cultural communications. Without necessarily studying individual cultures and languages in detail, we must all learn how to better communicate with individuals and groups whose first language, or language of choice, does not match our own.
Developing Awareness of Individual Cultures
However, some learning the basics about culture and at least something about the language of communication in different countries is important. This is necessary even for the basic level of understanding required to engage in appropriate greetings and physical contact, which can be a tricky area inter-culturally. For instance, kissing a business associate is not considered an appropriate business practice in the U.S., but in Paris, one peck on each cheek is an acceptable greeting. And, the firm handshake that is widely accepted in the U.S. is not recognized in all other cultures.
Generally speaking, patience, courtesy and a bit of curiosity go a long way. And, if you are unsure of any differences that may exist, simply ask team members. Again, this may best be done in a one-on-one setting so that no one feels "put on the spot" or self-conscious, perhaps even embarrassed, about discussing their own needs or differences or needs.
Keep it Simple
When you communicate, keep in mind that even though English is considered the international language of business, it is a mistake to assume that every businessperson speaks good English. In fact, only about half of the 800 million people who speak English learned it as a first language. And, those who speak it as a second language are often more limited than native speakers.
When you communicate cross-culturally, make particular efforts to keeping your communication clear, simple and unambiguous.
And (sadly) avoid humor until you know that the person you're communicating with "gets it" and isn't offended by it. Humor is notoriously culture-specific: Many things that pass for humor in one culture can be seen as grossly offensive in another.
Gestures and eye contact are two areas of nonverbal communication that are utilized differently across cultures. Companies must train employees in the correct way to handle nonverbal communication as to not offend other cultures. For example, American workers tend to wave their hand and use a finger to point when giving nonverbal direction. Extreme gesturing is considered rude in some cultures. While pointing may be considered appropriate in some contexts in the United States, Yamato would never use a finger to point towards another person because that gesture is considered rude in Japan. Instead, he might gesture with an open hand, with his palm facing up, toward the person.
Eye contact is another form of nonverbal communication. In the U.S., eye contact is a good thing and is seen as a reflection of honesty and straightforwardness. However, in some Asian and Middle Eastern cultures, prolonged eye contact can be seen as rude or aggressive in many situations.
Exercise 2. Agree or disagree with the following statements according to the text.
The domination of the Internet communication makes all communication unified.
If you don’t study all sub-cultures properly, you can’t be efficient in communication.
Norms of proximity are different in different cultures.
Jokes are better avoided when communicating with people from different cultures.
Exercise 3. Answer the questions.
Why is good cross-cultural communication a must nowadays?
Does speaking the same language means complete understanding of one another?
What does the basic level of cultural awareness require?
How do Western and Eastern patterns of non-verbal communication differ?
Exercise 4. Although English is universally spoken nowadays, translation can sometimes cause a lot of misunderstanding. Read the following real advertising slogans and think of more examples of mangled translation.
• Kentucky Fried Chicken in China: The "Finger Lickin' Good" slogan translates as "Eat your fingers off."
• Pepsi in Taiwan. The translation of the slogan "The Pepsi
Generation" came out to "Pepsi will bring your ancestors back from the dead."
• Salem cigarettes in Japan. The slogan "Salem – Feeling Free"
translates as "When smoking Salem, you feel so refreshed that your mind seems to be free and empty."
• Chevy in Mexico. Sales of the Nova may have been affected by the fact that in Spanish its literal translation is "No Go."
• One airline advertised, after translation, that we take your bags and send them in all directions.
• A major hotel advertised that, in case of fire, guests should do their utmost to alarm the hotel porter.
What stereotypes do you hold about the people in other cultures or countries? How helpful are these stereotypes?
Match the stereotype with the culture
A British trainer recently asked colleagues from Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the USA to describe a stereotype that is held in that culture about the British.
Match the stereotype with the culture that holds it.
1. The British have bad teeth.
2. The British treat their children badly.
3. The British are insular.
4. The British do not wash.
5. The British are obsessed by time.
6. The British are hypocrites.
What Do They Need to Know About Us?
Prepare a briefing for someone who is about to spend some time in your country. Use the table below as a guide to the content.
Geography and topography
Business and commerce
Media and broadcasting
Current political situation
Social and community life
Heroes and myths
Private / work life overlap
Traditions and customs
Levels of formality
Holidays and festivals
Food and Eating out
Approaches to work
Approaches to leadership and teams
Formal and informal meetings and discussions
Negotiations and presentations
Exercise 1. Read and translate the text.
Recognizing culture shock
Culture shock is the process of adjustment to an unfamiliar culture. It is a more or less sudden immersion into a state of uncertainty - in which you become unsure about what is expected of you and what you can expect from other people. Culture shock can occur in any situation where you are forced to adjust to an unfamiliar system in which many of your previous ways of doing or understanding things no longer apply.
The five stages
Five stages of culture shock can be identified:
This is where the newly arrived individual experiences the curiosity and excitement of a tourist, but where the person's basic identity is rooted back at home.
This stage involves the disintegration of almost everything familiar. The individual is overwhelmed by the requirements of the new culture and bombarded by stimuli in the new environment.
This stage is associated with the experience of anger and resentment towards the new culture. Stress, anxiety, irritation and hostility are common.
This involves the integration of new cues and an increased ability to function in the new culture. The individual increasingly sees the bad and the good elements in both the new culture and the home culture.
In this stage, the individual has become comfortable in both the old and the new culture. There is some controversy about whether anyone can really attain this stage.
Exercise 1.Below you will see a number of comments likely to be made by individuals in one of the five stages of culture shock. Read each comment and write down what stage of culture shock you think the individual concerned is most likely to be in.
1. 'We do that too, only in a different way.'
2. 'Why can't they just ...?'
3. 'I can't wait to tell ... about this.'
4. 'You don't understand them like I do.'
5. 'Isn't this exciting?'
6. 'These people are so damn ...'
7. 'Only ...more months before I can go home'
8. 'Aren't they interesting?'
9. 'Actually, I am beginning to like this'
10. 'Everything here is so difficult!'
11. 'We would never do that where I come from'
12. 'On the other hand, why shouldn't they do that?'
Exercise 2. Culture-shock Checklist
Read each of the following strategies and techniques for dealing with culture shock. On the right hand side, write down some specific behaviours that describe how you can put each strategy or technique into practice. The first two have some examples already inserted.
Strategies and techniquesHow you can put this in practice.
1. Anticipate it - do not let it take you by surprise.
For example, make a list of all the things likely to cause me culture shock.
2. Find out as much as you can about where you are going before you leave.
3. Identify familiar things you can do to keep you busy and active. For example, attend a country-specific briefing. Read a cultural awareness book.
4. Fight stress, do not deny your symptoms and do not give in to them.
5. Monitor your drinking and eating habits.
6. Give yourself time to adapt. Making mistakes is a normal part of learning.
7. Discuss your experiences with your colleagues.
8. Expect the same symptoms when you come home. 9. Think about the positive aspects of culture shock. 10. Retain a sense of humour!
Take a quick look at two texts below. What do they have in common? In what way are they different? Would you add something to the suggested tips?
Ten Tips for Cross Cultural Communication
Communicating across cultures can be confusing and uncertain—unless you have the right frame of mind and approach.
Do your homework
Research ahead of time what is an appropriate greeting in a particular culture. For example, is a nod, handshake or a bow preferred? For women, while I do not advocate subservience to blend with a particular culture, I do recommend that you be reserved.
Even when English is the common language in a cross cultural situation, this does not mean you should speak at normal speed. Slow down, speak clearly and ensure your pronunciation is intelligible.
Try not to ask double questions such as, “Do you want to carry on or shall we stop here?” In a cross cultural situation only the first or sec-ond question may have been comprehended. Let your listener answer one question at a time.
Avoid Negative Questions.
Many cross cultural communication misunderstandings have been caused by the use of negative questions and answers. In English we answer ‘yes’ if the answer is affirmative and ‘no’ if it is negative. In other cultures a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ may only be indicating whether the questioner is right or wrong. For example, the response to “Are you not coming?” may be ‘yes’, meaning ‘Yes, I am not coming.’
Cross cultural communication is enhanced through taking turns to talk, making a point and then listening to the response.
Write it Down.
If you are unsure whether something has been understood write it down and check. This can be useful when using large figures. For example, a billion in the USA is 1,000,000,000,000 while in the UK it is 1,000,000,000.
Effective cross cultural communication is in essence about being comfortable. Giving encouragement to those with weak English gives them confidence, support and a trust in you.
When communicating across cultures never assume the other party has understood. Be an active listener. Summarise what has been said in order to verify it. This is a very effective way of ensuring accurate cross cultural communication has taken place.
Even the most well educated foreigner will not have a complete knowledge of slang, idioms and sayings. The danger is that the words will be understood but the meaning missed.
Watch the humor.
In many cultures business is taken very seri-ously. Professionalism and protocol are con-stantly observed. Many cultures will not appreciate the use of humour and jokes in the business context. When using humour think whether it will be understood in the other cul-ture. For example, British sarcasm usually has a negative effect abroad.
Many cultures have certain etiquette when communicating. It is always a good idea to un-dertake some cross cultural awareness training or at least do some research on the target cul-ture.
Cross cultural communication is about dealing with people from other cultures in a way that ehavior misunderstandings and ehavior your potential to create strong cross cultural relationships. The above tips should be seen as a starting point to greater cross cultural aware-ness.
How to Use Good Communication Skills for Cross-Cultural Diversity
The business environment of the 21st century is expanding to include people from cultures and countries around the world. It takes special skills to communicate across these many cultures. Your courtesy and respect help establish a good foundation for effective communication. People respond to courtesy and feel comfortable when they know they have your respect. This helps them to be open and willing to ask questions when they don’t understand something. By making people feel comfortable, you help them to be better listeners. Avoid words that require a dictionary when communicating cross-culturally. Pepper your communication with words that everyone understands.
Slow down when you speak. Allow those who don’t have the same native language as you the time to interpret what you are saying.
Speak clearly and concisely. Make eye contact and enunciate plainly. Avoid using ambiguous or dual-meaning words. One of the problems non-native-English-speaking cultures have with the English language is misunderstanding the many meanings one word can have.
Keep it simple. Think in terms of your audience, and speak to their understanding. Don’t make long speeches that lose your group. Allow listeners the time to soak in what you have said. Pay attention to your audience and be an active speaker and listener. You can ascertain a group’s grasp of your communication by their response to your words.
Maintain respect and courtesy for people who come from different cultures. When you respect the people you communicate with, this helps reduce the stress they feel when trying to understand what you are saying. Doing basic research on specific ways to interact with the cultures you will be coming into contact with is a great way to show your multi-cultural group that you respect them.
Smile and be open. Your body language communicates your acceptance – or non-acceptance – and respect, as it helps put listeners at ease. Your body language conveys unspoken communication. Avoid large gestures with your hands, as this can be intimidating to people who might misunderstand your meaning. Keeping your arms crossed often makes people think you are not open to what they have to say.
Avoid slang. Slang words are unique to individual cultures and not always interpreted correctly. To ensure effective cross-cultural communication, don’t use slang words others might not know.
Shun humor. What is funny in one culture might not be in another. Humor might be misunderstood and interpreted in a bad light. While humor is a good icebreaker, it can backfire when the cross-cultural group misses humor’s meaning. When in doubt, avoid using humor when communicating with people from many cultures.
Adopt a formal communication approach until you develop a rapport with your group. A casual, informal approach can be upsetting to people from different cultures, especially when you have just met them. Use a respectful and formal mode of speech until you have developed a relationship with your cross-cultural group.
Stay away from using negative questions or answers. Double negatives are confusing enough to those with English as their native language. In a cross-cultural situation, double negatives are easily misunderstood. Keep questions and answers simple so everyone understands.
Ask for feedback. Request members of the cross-cultural group to speak up and provide interaction or ask questions. When you permit two-way communication, this helps prevent misunderstandings and clears up questions people might have.
Summarize what you have said. Don’t assume that just because you said it everyone understands. Repeat what you have said in a different way, summarize it and allow people the time to grasp what you have said. By summarizing what you have said, you can verify that everyone is on the same page.
Cross-cultural Communication Skills Checklist
Read each of the following strategies and techniques for communicating effectively across cultures.
On the right hand side, write down some specific ehavior that describes how you can put each strategy or technique into practice. The first two have some examples already inserted.
Strategies and techniques. How you can put this in practice.
Clarify frequently Paraphrase what you think you have heard to make sure that you understand the communication accurately.
Emphasize the feelings expressed, as well as the substance.
Confirm that you accurately understand and acknowledge the message, even if you do not agree with it.
Use active listening Demonstrate interest.
Acknowledge comments with your head or voice.
Avoid mistaking vagueness for ambiguity or disinterest.
Aim for dialogue, not debate. Be structured and clear.
Be open and friendly.
Invite feedback, do not just expect it.
Use questions effectively and often.
Grade your language to suit your counterpart.
Make sure that your verbal and non-verbal communication agrees.
Know yourself to know others.
Exercise 1. Read the text and give a short summary of it.
Geert Hofstede’s ‘five-dimension’ model has been extremely influential in the cross-cultural training environment. The model provides a structure with which to understand and describe key differences in values between different cultures, and enables individuals from different backgrounds to come to a shared understanding of why and how they differ.
Power distance reflects the degree to which a society accepts the idea that power is to be distributed unequally through hierarchical distinctions. The more this is accepted, the higher the country’s ranking in power distance. High power-distance culture can be characterized by a strong hierarchal structure within their organizations. In such societies, managers are respected in and out of the organization and are rarely publicly contradicted.
By contrast, low power-distance societies tend to value notions of empowerment for employees and consensual decision-making. In Europe, current levels of power distance rather neatly match the boundaries of the former Roman Empire. Former Roman spheres of influence tend to resolve the essential tension between low and high power distance in favour of the latter. The opposite is true in areas that were not influenced by Roman values.
Individualism versus collectivism
Individualism reflects the degree to which individual beliefs and actions should be independent of collective thought and action. Individualism contrasts with collectivism, which is the belief that people should integrate their thoughts and actions with those of a group (for example, extended family, or employer). In individualistic societies people are more likely to pursue their own personal goals.
In collective societies people are more likely to integrate their own goals with those of other group members and tend to avoid putting people in situations where they might lose face. The cohesion of the group plays a more important role than pursuing one’s own individual achievement.
Uncertainty avoidance reflects the degree to which a society feels threatened by ambiguous situations and tries to avoid them by formulating rules and refusing to tolerate deviance. In essence, it relates to an essential tension about the nature of ‘truth’. The more a society accepts that truth is ‘absolute’, the higher it ranks on uncertainty avoidance. Societies that rank high on uncertainty avoidance have highly structured working environments. Employees and managers pay attention to precise objectives and clear rules, detailed assignments and schedules set up well in advance.
Masculinity versus femininity
This dimension relates to essential tension between attitudes towards gender. Masculinity describes the degree to which the focus is placed on assertiveness, task achievement and
the acquisition of material goods. This is contrasted with femininity in which quality-of-life issues such as caring for others, group solidarity and helping the less fortunate are valued.
Long-term versus short-term orientation CDI (Confucian Dynamism Index)
The essential conflict in this dimension relates to attitudes towards what is, and what is not, considered ‘virtuous’. Long-term cultures focuses on the distant future and emphasize the importance of saving, persistence and achieving goals that may only come to fruition after several generations. Short-term cultures emphasize the past and the present, and there is respect for fulfilling social obligations and a consistent understanding of morality.
Hofstede claimed that Chinese people have a relatively high Confucian dynamism index value, while American people have a relatively low Confucian dynamism index value. He suggested that this distinction is reflected in business. In China top management emphasizes thrift and perseverance and respect for tradition, and also maintains a long-term orientation (that is, the company is regarded as a family). In contrast, in the USA, top management is said to focus on current needs, creativity and adopting a short-term orientation.
Exercise 2. Read the four short incidents described below. Underline any sentences that suggest cultural differences were at work and answer the following questions:
• How would you explain these differences in terms of Hofstede’s cultural dimensions?
• What hints or tips would you give to each of the people below to overcome cultural barriers?
Sarah Marshall is head of the business development group at a US-based law firm. Recently she was assigned the task of winning a contract for a new project with the Colombian government. She was competing with teams from Spain and France.
Sarah had quite a lot of background information on the proposed project and on the packages her competitors were offering. On the basis of this information and her organization’s extensive resources she felt confident that the company would win the contract.
Sarah drew up a proposal that was time and cost-effective and designed a presentation based on convincing numbers and a persuasive argument. Arriving in Bogota the day before, Sarah personally made the sales pitch in which she detailed all the relevant facts, highlighted the various ways forward and made a clear recommendation of the best solution. She eventually lost the project to the Spanish team, even though her Columbian counterparts acknowledged the quality of her proposals.
Richard, an Australian, is part of a team of lawyers based in Paris. Claude, 48, is the team’s PA. Claude works from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., with an hour and a half for lunch.
Richard is very pleased with the quality of Claude’s, work and her commitment to the team. Unfortunately because of his extensive travel commitments abroad he has never had the opportunity to have lunch with her or spend any time with her and the team outside the work environment. After a while Richard asks to be addressed by his first name and the informal 712. Several months later, however, Claude is still calling him `Monsieur Lafleur’ and addressing him with Voulez-vous bien...’ although Richard calls her ‘Claude’ and addresses her with Veux-tu
Richard is puzzled and decides to talk to Claude about this matter in order to clarify the situation.. To his amazement Claude replies that she prefers to call him by his surname and refer to him with the formal vous.
Karl, a Dutch lawyer, felt that his first business trip to Japan was going fairly well. He was determined to get to know his colleagues better and was particularly pleased to be invited out for drinks after work with most of the team, including the senior managers.
At the bar, everyone was expected to entertain; even the senior staff got to sing karaoke songs or tell jokes. Everything seemed fairly informal and cooperative, with Karl’s karaoke version of ‘Imagine’ winning rapturous applause from the group. One of the senior managers even asked Karl for a repeat rendition later in the evening.
Keeping this informality in mind, Karl used a team meeting early the next morning to present a proposal for resolving a minor logistics problem he had noticed. He was surprised to be met with a wall of embarrassed silence and was noticeably excluded from informal exchanges as people left the meeting.
Rebecca, a recently recruited British executive in an international law firm, was asked to chair a meeting with her French and British colleagues.
From Rebecca’s point of view, the meeting went well. She did her utmost to make sure that everyone was heard and the relevant issues discussed and summarized in a diplomatic way. She even changed the agenda and extended the meeting to accommodate new issues that some British delegates had brought up.
At the end of the meeting Rebecca was shocked to hear one French colleague whisper to another `... typical British, just typical. No proper preparation...’. She was even more surprised to hear the reply: ‘Yes, and they never say what they mean, do they?’
Recognizing Ineffective Responses to Cultural Differences
Read carefully through the following categorizations.
Missionaries exhibit denial. They simply cannot conceive that others can operate successfully on a completely different value system, or that other ways of doing things have merit and logic. When missionaries see people doing things differently, they do not see the influence of culture. Instead, they make rapid judgements about the individuals concerned, or draw on out-of-date and prescriptive stereotypes. These judgements, based on the missionaries’ own conception about how things ‘should’ be, often classify other people as backward, unsophisticated or uneducated. The missionary sees their role as educating others in the ‘right’ way to do things.
Expats exhibit defence. They recognize that there are, indeed, other ways of doing things, but in general judge them to be vastly inferior to ‘our ways of doing things’ back home. They recognize the existence of another set of values and behaviours, but continue to make faulty attributions or interpretations from their own ethnocentric perceptions, often with negative judgements attached. In the expats’ world, there is limited space for shades of grey and precious little empathy with other cultures. Expats often keep contact with people from other cultures at a minimum.
Neo-natives also exhibit defence. However, in an opposite response to expats, they begin to assume that everything about the new culture is good and nothing bad. They sometimes see the new culture as more spiritual, or in some ill-defined way ‘better’ than their own. They can even stereotype or deride their own cultural background as inferior. For neo-natives almost everything is black and white and they have little time for their own compatriots. Neo-natives see it as their role to become experts in their new culture, to become ‘more French than the French’.
Global villagers exhibit minimization. They admit to a minimal number of differences between cultures, but only at a superficial behavioural level. They consider that ‘underneath, everyone is the same’ and are unsympathetic to the idea of deeper differences in assumptions and values. They believe that what works here will, with perhaps some simple superficial modifications, work everywhere else. In the global villagers’ world, differences are sidelined or ignored. Instead, global villagers see it as their role to identify similarities. They may even disparage those who seek to acknowledge cultural variation as being bigoted or prejudiced.
Now, read each of the quotes below, which have all been adapted from quotes made by people who have attended cross-cultural learning or consulting events. Decide which of the categorizations above (if any) is applicable to each.
A. ‘Since I came to live in Thailand I have realized just how shallow and meaningless life in Europe is. The stress and anxiety that everybody suffers ... and for what? I’ll never go back.’ (Irish doctor on assignment in Thailand)
B. ‘I just can’t believe how lazy the British are. Unmotivated, unenthusiastic and disinterested. Now I just do not employ any at all, full stop. We only have Australians or New Zealanders working in the London office.’ (US manager of the London subsidiary of a New York-based architecture firm)
C. ‘I can’t tell you how many stupid things people say about business in China, all this rubbish about Guanxi. * It is just garbage. The Chinese are the same as everyone else. If you have the right business model, the right technology and properly incentivize your staff, you will win business. Full stop.’ (Scottish CEO of manufacturing exporter) *System of networking and mutual favours said to underpin business relationships in China.
D. ‘Working for a music business our people are much the same all over the world. In fact we look for the same type of people when recruiting. As a result cultural differences don’t come into the equation.’ (French HR manager)
E. ‘Although the older Poles are difficult to deal with, the younger people we employ have just as clear an idea of the importance of meeting deadlines and getting things done on time as people in the US.’ (American production director in Polish car components manufacturer)
F. ‘We really have such a strong belief in ourselves in this organization, an awareness that we are really unique and different, that where we come from as individuals is irrelevant. We drop our nationality and become “one of us”.’ (Brazilian employee in a worldwide charity)
G. ‘There is really almost nothing in this country that works properly. I know it is wrong, but I can’t help comparing everything here with the situation at home. It frustrates me because the people themselves don’t seem to understand how much better things could be if they put their minds to it.’ (Western European voluntary worker in Africa)
Exploring Communication Approaches
1. Read each of the following pairs of descriptions.
2. Decide which descriptions is more like your country, A or B.
3. Think of another culture or country of interest to you. Does it come closer to type A or type B?
4. Choose one or two statement pairs that interest you. Can you think of any misunderstandings that might arise when people from cultures more like A, communicate with people from cultures more like B?
1 In some countries, people tend to talk quite quickly, frequently interrupting others in order to get their ideas across. In other countries, people tend to talk in a slow and considered way, rarely interrupting other people when they are talking.
2 In some countries, people tend to talk quite loudly and are not particularly concerned if people they do not know overhear their conversations. In other countries, people tend to be more soft-spoken, and take care to ensure that they do not talk so loudly that other people can hear their conversations.
3 In some countries, people use many physical gestures (such as smiling a lot, waving their arms or banging the table) to emphasize what they are saying and to communicate important ideas and feelings. In other countries, people do not often use many physical gestures (such as smiling a lot, waving their arms or banging the table). Instead, they use words and their tone of voice to communicate important ideas and information.
4 In some countries, demonstrating interest in what other people have to say means maintaining good eye contact with them when they are talking. In other countries, demonstrating respect for other people means trying to avoid too much direct or close eye contact while they are speaking.
5 In some countries, even people who do not know each other very well will hold hands, embrace, place their arms around each other's shoulders, or touch each other on the arms. In other countries, people are taught not to touch other people they do not know, and will try to avoid physical contact with strangers wherever possible.
6 In some countries, when people talk to each other they stand or sit a considerable distance apart, sometimes as much as 50 cm. In other countries, when people talk to each other than stand or sit very close to each other - sometimes so close that they are almost touching the other person.
7 In some countries, people are direct and frank in the way they speak. They will give their personal opinions freely, regardless of whom they are talking to, and will often criticize other people directly if necessary. In other countries, people are less direct in the way they speak. They will often avoid giving their personal opinions unless they know the people they are talking to well, and will try to avoid saying things that might come across as too critical of others.
8 In some countries, people write e-mails or faxes that are as short, direct and factual as possible. They pose questions directly and ask for information in an explicit and unambiguous way. In other countries, people sometimes write e-mails or faxes in a less direct and wordier way. They often don't feel the need to spell out precisely and unambiguously the information they require.
9 In some countries, people often prefer to use e-mails, faxes, letters or other forms of written communication to pass on important information and make sure they get the response they want. In other countries, people often prefer to use face-to-face discussions, telephone calls or other forms of spoken communication to pass on important information and make sure they get the response they want.
10 In some countries, learning foreign languages (particularly English) forms a big part of the educational curriculum. People from these countries often speak other languages very well. In other countries, learning foreign languages is not an important part of the educational curriculum. People from these countries often do speak other languages very well.
11 In some countries, people are happy to talk about their personal and family life with their colleagues at work. They are also inclined to ask other people questions about their private and family life, even if they do not know them very well. In other countries, people prefer to keep their private life and their work life separate. They do not tend to ask questions or talk about personal and family life at work, unless it is with close colleagues who they know well.
12 In some countries, people like to make 'small talk' (that is, talk about the weather, football, politics) before they start talking about business. In other countries, people like to get straight into business without bothering with too much 'small talk' (that is, talk about the weather, football, politics).
13 In some countries, people are happy to talk about their accomplishments without embarrassment or shame. They think it is polite and honest to describe what they have achieved in their lives. In other countries, people feel uncomfortable talking about what they have accomplished. They think it is polite and courteous to keep quiet about their attainments.
14 In some countries, people will try to remain as reasonable, rational and dispassionate as possible during business discussions and conversations. They believe that the best way to remain objective is to argue based on facts and talk from the head, not from the heart. In other countries, people feel comfortable following their feelings and intuition during business discussions and conversations. They believe that the best way to get their message across is to talk with passion and conviction, even if this sometimes comes across as being emotional.
15 In some countries, people are happy cracking jokes and telling funny stories at work or in business situations, even with people they do not know very well. In other countries, people think work is a serious place to be and try to avoid making jokes or telling funny stories unless they know the other person very well.
16 In some countries, people tend to communicate in an informal way, using first names at work or when dealing with customers and colleagues. People rarely use formal titles (like Mr or Mrs, Doctor, Engineer, Architect). In other countries, people tend to use formal titles (like Mr or Mrs, Doctor, Engineer, Architect) at work, or when dealing with customers and colleagues, people tend to use first names mainly with family and close friends.
Do you think that national cuisine and food habits have anything to do with national character? Can it be a problem in cross-cultural communication? Watch the video and give your ideas.
Listen to John’s story and answer the questions.
What meal was he invited to?
What did John look at?
What was his mistake?
Listen to Cameron’s story and answer the questions
Where was Pete’s new job?
What was his mistake?
How did the staff feel when Peter used first names?
Listen to Susan’s story and answer the questions
Where did Susan make her mistake?
Who did she go out for a meal with?
What was her mistake?
What did she forget to do?
Give a short talk on some aspect of another culture, which is different from yours.
You have received a letter from your British friend who says he is going to visit Russia. Write a reply making a list of do’s and don’ts.
Comment on the proverb: “When in Rome do as Romans”
Follow the plan:
1. Give a general statement of the problem.
2. Give your opinion and reasons for it.
3. Give other people’s opinion and say why they are not right.
4. Make a conclusion
CROSS-CULTURAL COMMUNICATION ACTIVITY: UNCOCKTAIL PARTY
Objective: Experience “culture clash” through communication differences in proxemics (space) and kinesics (non-verbal communication).
Materials: Party Instructions for Groups A & B, optional munchies and drink
Instructions: Divide group in half. If possible, send one group outside the room. Hand out instructions to Group B and review instructions with them, answering any questions they may have. Have them begin to interact with each other so they can practice these instructions with each other. Meanwhile, brief the other group and hand out instructions for Group A. Once Group A has been briefed and prepped, have Group A rejoin Group B for the “party.” (Note: It is helpful to provide munchies and drinks to lend a “cocktail” party atmosphere.) The goal during the “party” is for participants to meet as many other persons as possible, not necessarily just ones from the other group. Depending on the size of the groups let them mingle approximately 10 minutes. Then, debrief the exercise, particularly in regard to proxemics and kinesics.
PARTY INSTRUCTIONS FOR GROUP A: 1) Always speak softly and quietly 2) Stand at least an arm’s length away (or further) whenever you are in conversation with someone 3) Don’t look persons in the eye when talking with them 4) Try not to touch anyone, especially when talking with them – keep your hands by your side at all times 5) Smile only at persons you know Have fun and meet as many people as you can during the “party!”
PARTY INSTRUCTIONS FOR GROUP B: 1) Speak loudly and excitedly 2) Stand close to someone when talking with that person – and it’s fine to touch them on the shoulder or arm when talking 3) It’s very important to look persons in the eye when talking with them 4) It’s fine to use gestures when talking and it’s OK to literally bump into people at the party – (no need to apologize) 5) Smiling and being friendly is wonderful! Have fun and meet as many people as you can during the “party!”
Gestures: see attached