Hot post title, no? Has it got you all up in arms?
Good. Hang on, keep reading (there’s a contest with a cool prize to come)…
A couple of my recent posts have been on cultural issues to consider when doing training and development. You can see them at the bottom of this post.
I left the biggest cultural issue for this post and I’ve thrown in a bit of contest to boot. Are you with me?
I’m talking about communication. Nothing is more culturally laden than how we communicate.
Communication is a huge topic within intercultural work, and for today’s post let’s look at one small example and that’s the indirect <——-> direct communication continuum.
Some cultures communicate very directly – eye to eye, specifically with the person they intend to relay or receive a message from. Other cultures communicate indirectly, perhaps with less eye contact and/or through a third party. And lots of cultures are somewhere along that continuum.
More than once I’ve had clients say to me ‘First Nations people don’t look you in the eye,’ assuming all First Nations people are indirect communicators. What’s wrong with that statement?
Many things, including it generalizes all First Nations people into one cultural category.
While not directly First Nations, I love to relay the following story as an example of another way of looking at communication issues.
When I was working up north (in -72 degree Celsius weather) I didn’t think some Inuit elders were answering my questions. I tried several tactics, including having less eye contact. Didn’t work. Turns out I was asking yes or no questions (questions that can only be answered by yes or no).
See if you can tell how you say ‘yes’ and how you say ‘no’ in the Inuit community I was in.
In which photo am I saying yes?
Which one says no?
And how do you know?
Enter your answer in the reply section below. I’ll make a random draw & announce the winner June 15th. One person will win a free Life Lenses™ assessment – an assessment designed to illuminate your perspective or how you view the world.
The deadline for entering your answer is Tuesday, June 14th, 2011.
Good luck and have fun!