Managing Across Borders
DAY ONE: Morning
The course starts with a discussion of what culture is. Once defined, the Iceberg concept is introduced. Focusing on the notion that cultural differences necessarily exist, a three step process for accepting those differences is introduced through a group exercise. The message is simple: understand
yourself, understand others, and shift your style in order to maximize your commutations.
Describing, Interpreting, Evaluating
Having now created a base for understanding culture, the trainees are asked to define the differences between descriptions, interpretations, and evaluations. Once defined, the value of descriptions is highlighted. Whereas interpretations and evaluations are dangerous in that they may lead to incorrect judgements, descriptions are always a safe means of gaining information.
An exercise designed to focus on individual communication styles, trainees work in pairs to discover their own tendencies in information exchange. The goal is to develop a systematic process for enhancing communication by clarifying assumptions, asking questions, using descriptive language, implementing overviews and summaries, and clarifying responsibilities in communication.
Once completed, a brief explanation on how messages are sent and received using the Encode/Decode theory is used. The point made involves using clear codes (verbal/nonverbal) to clarify assumptions and, thus, enhance communication.
Edward T. Hall’s theory is used to note that cultures exist at
communication extremes. Whereas some cultures share assumptions and therefore require fewer words to communicate, others share few assumptions, therefore
necessitating clear verbal communication. Examples are used to emphasize this point.
CULTURAL ISSUES ON THE JOB
A variety of issues are brought forth in a group discussion resulting in a consensus formed concerning key problems commonly faced in the workplace related to cultural differences. These would ideally include organizational
structure, external environment, customer relations, managing people, and business protocol and ethics.
GROUP CASE STUDY
Based on the aforementioned discussions and information provided in Day One, trainees are provided with a case study that highlights cultural differences. They are subsequently asked to develop their own case studies. Both are fully discussed and analyzed in a large group.
COMMUNICATION ACTION PLAN
Selecting several of these case studies, each group develops its own action plan to resolve specific scenarios. Presenting their resolutions to the larger group, feedback is given on realistic application integrating cultural sensitivity and effective communication ideas. Through this series of steps, individual empowerment to manage cultural differences is stressed.