What did you say? Intercultural expectations, misunderstandings, and communication [20140725 vientiane]

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"What did you say? Intercultural expectations, misunderstandings, and communication" a workshop given at Digital Divide Data, Vientiane, Laos.

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  • What Did You Say? ! Intercultural Expectations, Misunderstandings, and Communication ! Greetings! I am pleased to see that we are different. May we together become greater than the sum of both of us. ! Surak in the Savage Curtain episode of Star Trek ! Frederick Zarndt
  • The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place. George Bernard Shaw,1925 Nobel Peace Prize for Literature. ?
  • I most enthusiastically recommend this candidate with no qualifications whatsoever. What did you say?
  • In my opinion you will be very fortunate to get this person to work for you. What did you say?
  • Please revert as soon as possible. What did you say?
  • What does this mean? Fine for Parking Here
  • What do you see? The young girl is turning away... The old woman is very sad...
  • What do you see?
  • Why (better) communication is necessary
  • Wiio's laws of (mis-)communication Osmo A Wiio in Wiion lait - ja vhn muidenkin cf. http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/wiio.html 1. Communication usually fails, except by accident 1. If communication can fail, it will 2. If communication cannot fail, it still most usually fails 3. If communication seems to succeed in the intended way, there's a misunderstanding 4. If you are content with your message, communication certainly fails 2. If a message can be interpreted in several ways, it will be interpreted in a manner that maximizes the damage 3. There is always someone who knows better than you what you meant with your message
  • Osmo A Wiio in Wiion lait - ja vhn muidenkin cf. http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/wiio.html 4. The more we communicate, the worse communication succeeds. 1. The more we communicate, the faster misunderstandings propagate. 5. In mass communication, the important thing is not how things are but how they seem to be. 6. The importance of a news item is inversely proportional to the square of the distance. 7. The more important the situation is, the more probably you forget an essential thing that you remembered a moment ago. Wiio's laws of (mis-)communication
  • Exercise: Introductions Introduce yourself and say where you were born Say one thing about you that you really like Say one thing about you that you dont so much like Tell one unique thing shared by all / most members of your native culture that is different from other cultures Do this is 2 minutes or less!
  • Goals Personal goal: Through my behaviour in thought, word, and deed to be and to become a better person Business goal: Everyone wins as measured by the 4 way test* 1. Is it the truth? 2. Is it fair to all concerned? 3. Will it build goodwill and better friendships? 4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned? Your goals? * Adapted from Herbert Taylors 4 way test. See http://www.rotary.org
  • Simple principles for communication 1. Be impeccable with your word 2. Dont take anything personally 3. Dont make assumptions 4. Always do your best 5. Be mindful Adapted from The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz
  • The basic human
  • Genetic difference at most 0.5%
  • Estimated number of neurons in an adult human brain 10,000,000,000 (1011)* ! Estimated number of synapses in an adult human brain: 100,000,000,000,000 (1014) ! Estimated number of synaptic connections for each neuron: 7,000 ! Number of combinations of n (1011) neurons with s (7000) synapses C (n, s) = C (1011, 7000) is very large (for example, the number of combinations of n (52) cards taken 5 at a time C (52,5) is 2,598,960 * Another estimate is 86 x 109 total neurons, 16.3 x 109 in the cerebral cortex and 69 x 109 in the cerebellum. Genes, neurons, and synapses: How humans are different
  • Humans have about 3,000,000 nucleotides. Maximum genetic variation based on ! single nucleotide polymorphism is 0.1% or 1 difference in 1000 base pairs copy number variation resulting from deletions, insertions, inversions, and duplications is 0.4% ! Total maximum genetic difference between two randomly selected humans is ~0.5%. ! Genetic difference between human and chimpanzee is ~4%. Genes, neurons, and synapses: How humans are alike
  • Reticular activating system ! The Reticular Activating System (RAS) is a structure common to mammals that is necessary for consciousness to occur. RAS filters data coming to your mind so that your perception of events agrees with your past experience. Everything you see, hear, smell, feel and touch is a message entering your brain. RAS filters through all these messages and decides which ones will get attention from your consciousness. Midbrain Pons RAS Medulla Exercise (+) Noise (+)
  • Basic human nature Physical Vehicle comprised of meat body and its needs. (Latin physica things relating to nature.) Emotional Motivational force for human activities. (Latin emovere move.) Mental Sets goals, creates problems, solves problems. (Latin mens mind, Indo-European / Sanskrit revolve in the mind, think.) Spiritual Relationship to creator. (Latin spirare breathe.) Regardless of culture, humans have 4 basic natures. With only slight racial and geographic differences, the physical body is the same for all cultures. How humans meet their physical needs -- water, food, shelter, procreation -- and fulfill their emotional, mental, and spiritual natures differs from culture to culture and from person to person.
  • Basic human activities Relationship Manner in which one connects to and interacts with other humans. (Latin referre bring back.) Work Physical and mental activity intended to achieve a purpose or result or to create something. Recreation Activities done for enjoyment and to re - create oneself. (Latin recreare to create again, renew.) Devotion Activities to fulfill and develop spiritual nature. (Latin devotionem to dedicate by a vow.) Basic physical needs -- water, food, shelter, procreation -- are fulfilled in variety of culture specific ways. Once these needs are met, humans from every culture engage in 4 fundamental activities.
  • Culture is like the color of your eyes: You cannot hide it and can change it only with difficulty, and although you yourself cannot see it, it is always visible to others when you interact with them. Culture Any knowledge passed from one generation to the next, not necessarily with respect to human beings. Culture is a collective phenomenon shared with people within the same social environment. Culture is learned, it is not innate. Culture is different from personality but the border between culture and personality is fuzzy. Definitions of culture
  • Culture Personality Human Nature Learned Inherited and Learned Inherited Specific to Individual Specific to Group Universal Levels of mental programming
  • Cultural expectations Cultures similar Cultures different Behaviors and values
  • Culture stereotypes Advantages of stereotypes Disadvantages of stereotypes Prediction of cultural behaviors Stereotypical behavior does not match real behavior Illuminates intent Expected intent disguises real intent Helps one avoid giving offense Ability to put things in conceptual categories is fundamental to perception.
  • Exercise: Cultural stereotypes Think of a cultural stereotype from your own or from another culture. Think of advantages, disadvantages, and dangers of the stereotype.
  • realize that there is no color in the natural world and no sounds nothing of this kind; no textures, no patterns, no beauty, no scent. the world out there is synthesized in our consciousness. Sir John Eccles,1963 Nobel Peace Prize for Medicine.
  • Perception To become conscious of or aware of through the senses (Latin perceptin or perciptio: comprehension, taking in)
  • Process of perception 1. Observation 2. Interpretation 3. Evaluation or judgement
  • He must be late... That man is running Those foreigners are always in a hurry! Perception: ObservationPerception: JudgementPerception: Interpretation?
  • Exercise: Judgement Think of one of your own judgements about someone else or a judgement that you witnessed. It may have been the result of your own personal or cultural programming or the result of your assumptions about a situation, relationship, or the circumstances.
  • Some more equal than others: Power distance Power distance is the extent to which the less powerful members of an organization within a country expect and accept that power is distributed unequally.
  • Small power distance DirectorEmployee Large power distance DirectorEmployee
  • Small power distance Large power distance Inequalities among people should be minimized Inequalities among people are expected and desired Hierarchy in organizations means an inequality of roles, established for convenience Hierarchy in organizations reflects existential inequality between higher and lower levels Managers rely on their own experience and on subordinates Managers rely on superiors and on formal rules Subordinates expect to be consulted Subordinates expect to be told what to do Privileges and status symbols are frowned upon Privileges and status symbols are normal and popular Manual work has the same status as office work White-collar jobs are valued more than blue-collar jobs There are fewer supervisory personnel There are more supervisory personnel Parents treat children as equals Parents teach children obedience Teachers are experts who transfer impersonal truths Teachers are gurus who transfer personal wisdom
  • Power distance cultural differences Small Power Distance Large Power Distance
  • Power distance cultural differences Small Power Distance Large Power Distance
  • Exercise: The emperors new clothes You are an operator with 3 years experience. For the last year, you have been part of a 5 person team of equally experienced operators at the Tweedle Dee Corporation. One day during a team meeting, the team leader asks the team to change the way zoning is done. The new way is very different from the old way. What do you do? [2]
  • I, we and they: Individualism and collectivism In individualistic cultures ties between individuals are loose, everyone is expected to look after himself or herself. In collectivistic cultures people from birth onward are integrated into strong, cohesive in-groups, which throughout peoples lifetimes continue to protect them in exchange for unquestioning loyalty.
  • Collectivist Individualist Purpose of education is learning how to do Purpose of education is learning how to learn Employees are members of in-groups who will pursue their in-groups interest Employees are economic men who will pursue employers interest if it coincides with their interest Employer-employee relationship is basically moral, like a family link Employer-employee relationship is a contract between parties on the labor market Relationship prevails over task Task prevails over relationship High-context communication prevails Low-context communication prevails On personality tests, people score more introvert On personality tests, people score more extrovert Harmony should be maintained and direct confrontations avoided Speaking ones mind is a characteristic of an honest person Interdependent self Independent self Occupational mobility is lower Occupational mobility is higher
  • ingroup outgroup ingroup P outgroup P Perception of relationships INDIVIDUALISTIC CULTURES COLLECTIVISTIC CULTURES more perceived less perceived intercultural distance intercultural distance
  • Individual / collective cultural differences More individualism More collectivism
  • Individual / collective cultural differences More individualism More collectivism
  • Exercise: Who is responsible? A new employee joins an experienced production team. The employee receives the usual training (same training that all production teams receive) and passes a proficiency exam. During her/his 1st week on the production line, s/he makes a mistake that cause several days of production to be recalled. Who is responsible? [2]
  • He and she, masculine and feminine, tough and tender A culture is masculine (tough) when emotional gender roles are clearly distinct; men are supposed to be assertive, tough, and focused on material success, whereas women are supposed to be more modest, tender, and concerned with the quality of life. A culture is feminine (tender) when emotional gender roles overlap: both men and women are allowed to be modest, tender, and concerned with the quality of life.
  • Masculine Feminine Challenge, earnings, recognition, and advancement are important Relationships and quality of life are important Men should be assertive, ambitious, and tough Both men and women should be modest Women are supposed to be tender and take care of relationships Both men and women can be tender and focus on relationships Brides need to be chaste and industrious, grooms dont Bridegrooms and brides are held to the same standards People live in order to work People work in order to live Resolution of conflicts by letting the strongest win Resolution of conflicts by compromise and negotiation There is a lower share of working women in professional jobs There is a higher share of working women in professional jobs Students overrate their own performance; ego-boosting Students underrate their own performance; ego- effacement Women shop for food, men for cars Women and men shop for food and cars
  • Education Co-educative schools, same content of classes for girls and boys, same qualification for men and women. High professional qualification is most important for men. Career Equal professional opportunities for men and women are necessary. Career and professional advancement is less important for women than for men. Home All housekeeping is done by both parties to a marriage in equal shares. Housekeeping is primarily the duty of the woman. Decisions Neither partner dominates; solutions do not always follow the principle of finding a concerted decision. In case of conflict, man has the last say, for example, in choosing the place to live, choice of school for children. Children Man and woman share equally in raising children. Woman is the primary care giver. Australia Denmark France Germany India Japan Laos New Zealand Norway Singapore USA Exercise: Rank national cultures
  • Masculine / feminine cultural differences More masculine More feminine
  • Masculine / feminine cultural differences More masculine More feminine
  • What is different is dangerous: Uncertainty avoidance Uncertainty avoidance is the extent to which the members of a culture feel threatened by ambiguous or unknown situations, often expressed through nervous stress (anxiety) and in a need for predictability.
  • Weak uncertainty avoidance Strong uncertainty avoidance More changes of employer, shorter service Fewer changes of employer, longer service There should be no more rules than necessary There is an emotional need for rules, even if these will not work Hard-working only when needed There is an emotional need to be busy and an inner urge to work hard There is tolerance for ambiguity and chaos There is need for precision and formalization Focus on decision process Focus on decision content Low stress and low anxiety High stress and high anxiety What is different is curious What is different is dangerous Top managers are concerned with strategy Top managers are concerned with daily operations Teachers may say I dont know Teachers are supposed to have all the answers
  • Exercise: Risk seekers / Risk averse Australia Brazil China Denmark Finland France Germany Great Britain India Ireland Japan Laos New Zealand Norway Pakistan Singapore Switzerland Thailand USA ! ! From the list above, choose 2 cultures that are likely to foster individuals that will readily take risks and 2 cultures that are likely to foster individuals that are risk averse. Justify your choices. ! [2]
  • Exercise: Risk seekers / Risk averse The year is 2050. A company headquartered on Mars has sent you a very attractive employment offer. The offer requires a minimum commitment of 5 years on Mars. Under what conditions (if any) would you accept employment? ! ! ! ! Fact for this Exercise: More than 21,000 people have emigrated to Mars and about one hundred children have been born on Mars.
  • Uncertainty avoidance cultural differences Strong uncertainty avoidance Weak uncertainty avoidance
  • Uncertainty avoidance cultural differences Strong uncertainty avoidance Weak uncertainty avoidance
  • Yesterday, now, or later: Long- and short-term orientation Cultures with long-term orientation foster virtues oriented toward future rewards, in particular, perseverance and thrift. Cultures with short-term orientation foster virtues related to the past and present, in particular, respect for tradition and fulfilling social obligations.
  • Long-term orientation Short-term orientation Perseverance, sustained efforts toward slow results Efforts should produce quick results Respect for circumstances Respect for traditions Concern with personal adaptiveness Concern with personal stability Willingness to subordinate oneself for a purpose Concern with social and status obligations Leisure time is not important Leisure time is important Focus is on market position Focus is on bottom line Main work values include learning, honesty, adaptiveness, accountability, and self-discipline Main work values include freedom, rights, achievement, and thinking for oneself Investment in lifelong, personal networks Personal loyalties vary with business needs Marriage is a pragmatic arrangement Marriage is a moral arrangement
  • Exercise: What will you do? ! A distant, wealthy relative recently died. In his will he left you USD $10,000. There are no conditions on the inheritance except that you must invest or spend the money as follows: Invest the money in the XYZ hedge fund* or spend the money on a holiday in Hawaii. What would you do and why? ! ! *The hedge fund is 10 years old and has had an average historical annual return that barely exceeds inflation.
  • Long-term / Short-term orientation Long-term orientation Short-term orientation
  • Long-term / Short-term orientation Long-term orientation Short-term orientation
  • Exercise: Cultures with long-term and short-term orientations Australia Brazil China Denmark Finland France Germany Great Britain India Ireland Japan Laos New Zealand Norway Pakistan Singapore Switzerland Turkey USA ! ! From the list above, choose 1 culture with long-term orientation and choose 1 culture with short-term orientation. Justify your choice.
  • Richard Lewiss cultural categories Linear-active cultures tend to be task-oriented, highly organized planners who complete action-chains by doing one thing at a time, preferably in accordance with a linear agenda. ! Multi-active cultures are loquacious, impulsive, like to do many things at the same time, and attach great importance to feelings, relationships and people-orientation. ! Reactive cultures rarely initiate action or discussion, preferring first to listen to and establish the others position, then react to it and formulate their own. Reactive cultures listen before they leap. Adapted from Richard D Lewis
  • Cultural types model Figure copyright Richard D Lewis
  • Culture category statistics Adapted from Richard D Lewis Linear-active 600,000,000 Multi-active 3,300,000,000 Reactive 1,700,000,000 Hybrid (multi-active and reactive) 290,000,000 Total (approx.) 6,000,000,000
  • Exercise: What will you do? You must fly to a business meeting in another country. You ask your good friend to drive you to the airport. Whilst driving to the airport, your friend hits and seriously injures a pedestrian. S/he drives on without stopping. Later the police catch her/him and expect you to testify in court. What can your friend expect you to say?
  • Culture and emotions Universal emotions such as anger, contempt, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, and surprise are common to all cultures. Individualistic cultures tend to direct attention to inner states and feelings (such as positive or negative affects). Collectivistic cultures tend to direct attention to outer sources (adhering to social norms or fulfilling ones duties). The correlation between life satisfaction and the prevalence of positive affect is higher in individualistic cultures, whereas in collectivistic cultures affect and adhering to norms are equally important for life satisfaction.
  • What is this man feeling? AngerDisgust Neutral FearJoySurprise Sadness
  • What is this man feeling? Anger Disgust Neutral Fear Joy Surprise Sadness
  • Basic communication
  • How do you communicate? Communication is at most 30% verbal! Remainder - 70% or more - is comprised of gestures, facial expressions, tone of voice, posture, odors, ... Telephone communication removes gestures, facial expressions, posture, odors, etc. Only words and tone of voice remain. Written communication - email, letters, etc - removes all modes of communication save for words.
  • Simple principles for communication 1. Be impeccable with your word 2. Dont take anything personally 3. Dont make assumptions 4. Always do your best 5. Be mindful Adapted from The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz
  • Be impeccable with your word Take responsibility for your words and actions. Respect others and yourself. Be mindful of your intent. Consider the effect that your words will have on those who hear them. Do not lie to yourself or to others. Do not gossip.
  • Dont take anything personally To take stuff personally is expression of selfishness: You assume that everything is about you. Nothing others do is because of you: It is because of the others programming. Act, dont react: When you take stuff personally, you feel offended by others words and your reaction is to defend your beliefs thus creating conflict.
  • Act, dont react William Ury , co-founder of Harvard's Program on Negotiation and Senior Fellow of the Harvard Negotiation Project. Humans are reaction machines. When you are angry, you will make the best speech you will ever regret.
  • Dont make assumptions The human has the need to explain and understand everything. It doesnt matter if the explanation is correct -- the explanation by itself makes us feel safe. Problem with assumptions is that we believe they are the truth. Do not assume that your partner (business or personal) knows what you think and therefore you dont have to say what you want. Do not assume that others think the way we think, feel the way we feel, and judge the way we judge. Stop making assumptions: Have courage to ask questions! Make sure communication is clear. Even then dont assume you know everything about a situation. Communicate This is what I want. That is what you want.
  • Perception Much of what you think happened or what you think you heard is based on misperception.
  • Perception Mother and daughter
  • Perception Mother and daughter Innocence Project Eyewitness misidentification is the single greatest cause of wrongful convictions, playing a role in more than 75% of convictions overturned through DNA testing. Exonerated 289 wrongfully convicted men (as of Feb 2012)
  • Perception Mother and daughter Innocence Project Eyewitness misidentification is the single greatest cause of wrongful convictions, playing a role in more than 75% of convictions overturned through DNA testing. Exonerated 289 wrongfully convicted men (as of Feb 2012) Crab Nebula supernova In 1054 a star in the region of what is now know as the Crab Nebula exploded. For several days it was the 3rd brightest object in the sky, bright enough to be seen in daytime. The supernova was observed and recorded by Chinese, Japanese, and Arab astronomers and by native Americans. There are few and very obscure recorded European observations.
  • Exercise: Misperceptions Think of one of your own misperceptions or a misperception that you witnessed. It may have been the result of your own personal or cultural programming or the result of your assumptions about a situation, relationship, or the circumstances.
  • Why (better) communication is necessary No communication ... !
  • Why (better) communication is necessary No communication ... Little communication ...
  • Why (better) communication is necessary No communication ... Little communication ... Poor communication ...
  • Why (better) communication is necessary No communication ... Little communication ... Poor communication ... Reduced communication ... !
  • Why (better) communication is necessary No communication ... Little communication ... Poor communication ... Reduced communication ... ... all result in more assumptions about
  • Always do your best Do no more or less than your best. Reasonable balance. Your best changes one moment to next. Dont beat yourself up when you fail to do your best.
  • Be mindful Mindfulness is being in touch with and aware of the present moment, as well as taking a non-evaluative and non-judgmental approach to it. When the mind is not mindful and attentive, it follows its habitual patterns of liking, disliking, rejecting, pursuing, projecting, and being for and against things. Clear attentiveness is awareness that is free from the process of reacting, without adding or subtracting anything from the experience.
  • Be mindful
  • Why (better) communication is necessary Because effective communication results in better understanding and ... Better understanding of each others personal / business needs leads to ... Better personal / business relationships which in turn leads to ... More harmony in personal / business relationships, and ... Understanding is more fun than misunderstanding!
  • Basic communication principles Simple Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS principle) Repeat Say it twice in different ways Listen Repeat what you hear Respect Respect yourself and others
  • More communication principles When we speak to others in a language that is not our own, we often unconsciously transfer elements from our own language into the other. When someone speaks your language, you tend to assume that they also share your thoughts and assumptions. Unless you understand very well proverbs from a language that is not your own, dont use them. Humor does not translate well! Conversational taboos usually include religion and politics as well as questions about health, age, weight, income. Effective verbal communication is expected to be explicit, direct, and unambiguous. Say what you mean as precisely and straightforwardly as possible. Some western cultures view a person who is being indirect as tricky, deceptive, and of questionable integrity. At best indirect communication is viewed as a waste of time. Some eastern cultures view a person who is being direct as rude and of questionable honor. At best direct communication is viewed as impolite.
  • Organizing information Open-minded people seek out (more) information before making a decision Close-minded people see only a narrow range of possibilities and ignore the rest Most cultures produce close-minded people!
  • Exercise: Close-minded or not? Do you agree with the statement that most cultures produce close-minded people? Why?
  • Exercise: Invent a gesture Invent a gesture that a driver can use to apologize for unintentionally cutting off another driver. The gesture must be usable in any country. [2]
  • Frederick Zarndt ! Coronado CA 92118 USA +1.801.361.3204 frederick@frederickzarndt.com Where there is light in the soul, There is beauty in the person. Where there is beauty in the person, There is harmony in the home. Where there is harmony in the home, There is honor in the nation. Where there is honor in the nation, There is peace in the world.

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