Communication Across Cultures Cross-Cultural Communication for the Workplace Environment: An Introductory Training Seminar for CRS-Ghana 1. CONTENT DAY ONE TOPICS: 1. Cross-Cultural Communication 2. Non-Verbal Communication 3. „High Context‟ and „Low Context‟ Communication: “As for Borôfo, Borôfo: idey lak ino be dey!” 4. Learning The Fine Art of Perception DAY TWO TOPICS: 5. Cross-Cultural Differences 6. Cross-Cultural Miscommunication: “What people mean is not what they say”. 7. Understanding Conflicts in Different Cultures 8. Responding to Conflicts in Different Cultures 2. OBJECTIVES: Introduce management personnel to the basics of cross-cultural communication/ miscommunication and to applying the principles in the workplace. 3. METHOD: DAY ONE: Morning: 2 sessions (8, 10) Afternoon: 2 sessions (2, 4) DAY TWO: Morning: 2 sessions (8, 10) Afternoon: 2 sessions (2, 4) The Training Seminar involves: One-hour presentations (by team members) followed by 10 min. discussion & interaction activities. Printed handouts are distributed. 4. DATES: Mon 6 & Tues 7 May, or Tues 7 & Wed 8 May, or Wed 8 & Thrs 9 May, or Thrs 9 & Fri 10 May 5. FEES: 1,400 USD Program fees: 1000 USD (350 X 2 = 700 + 150 X 2 =300) Expenses: 400 USD Transportation: 200 USD (100 X 2 = 200) Room & Board: 200 USD (50 X 2 + 50 X 2) 2 Seminar Topic Descriptions 1. CROSS-CULTURAL COMMUNICATION: The underlying principles and foundations of communication are examined and explained for the multi-cultural „global‟ world we now live in. Our global condition gives rise to more communicational hazards than ever before. Cross-cultural communicational flexibility is a major requirement for successful communication in our modern world. The presentation examines the length and breadth of this issue. 2. NON-VERBAL COMMUNICATION: "Body-talk," onomatopoeia, expressive sounds, facial and other gestures, posture, bodily movements, and the three „distances‟ (intimate, personal and social) are introduced. Basic examples of „sign language‟ are demonstrated cross-culturally and the communicational implications of each are discussed. The further implications for cross-cultural communication and potential miscommunication are explored. 3. HIGH AND LOW CONTEXT COMMUNICATION: “As for Borôfo, Borôfo: idey lak ino be dey!” Code-switching is a normal process in most African contexts these days. The situations for such switching have increased and expanded with the cultural expansion of the workplace environment. In the office it may be „normal‟ for a secretary to switch at a moment‟s notice between 5 language-codes all during one extended communicational event. For example, a secretary, while addressing a secretarial coworker in Twi or level 2: „Makola‟ Ghanaian English, may switch to “Queen‟s English” to talk to her European boss who interrupts the conversation, and then to “level 1: „Legon‟ Ghanaian English” to a Ghanaian boss who is passing by on the way to his office, and her „village dialect‟ or special language (e.g. Larteh) to her intimate friend and confidant who drops off a memo, and Hausa, street Ga or level 3: „Watchman‟ Ghanaian English to a diver and cleaning staff who walks in and asks for something. The switching is to maximize frugal, cost-effective communication, to preserve and maintain bonds and relationships at multiple levels. High context and low context communication is explored and the basic rules, consequences and reasons for using each are examined. „Borôfo Borôfo’ = unattached money; Ghanaian English = attached money. 4. CREATIVE PERCEPTION: Participants are introduced to the methods and principles for sharpening observational and listening skills in cross-cultural contexts. Using the work of art trainer Betty Edwards, who maintains that art is not a matter of learning how to draw but how to perceive, participants are introduced to a strategy for sharpening perception cross-culturally. The most important principle involves relaxing the controls of our leftbrain „symbolic‟ mode. This is the underlying task of all who wish to become good cross-cultural observers and listeners. Such a „creative perception,‟ which is one that is freed of one‟s own cultural constraints, is absolutely necessary for conflict analysis and resolution. 5. CROSS-CULTURAL DIFFERENCES: In the global workplace we tend to minimize or even to ignore our cultural differences while mythologizing that they no longer exist. But 3 this is a dangerous myth for it greatly heightens the potential for miscommunication. The first step in addressing it is to name and accept our cultural differences. Another pervasive Western procedural expectation that is creeping into the Ghanaian Eurocontexts like governmental and NGO work environments is that we can only learn other cultures that are „up‟ the global status grid and not those that are „down‟ the global status grid. This is based on the myth that one loses one‟s native (lesser) culture when appropriating Western (greater) culture. The reality is the value that determines what is „up‟ or „down‟ and that we can never really „lose‟ our cultural identity but we can add on other identities, Western or otherwise. If we are to avoid the pitfalls of miscommunication it will be necessary to build up cross-cultural flexibility and adaptability to respond to the actually different cultural conditions of our modern world. Typical stereotypes about Africans and Europeans are enumerated and compared. Crosscultural themes such as the private and the social self, the „work‟ ethic, duty and responsibility, goals, planning, judgment, learning processes, creativity, friendship, enemy-ship, and attitudes toward nature, ecology, "truth", women, the material world and the spirit world will be explored and compared. 6. CROSS-CULTURAL MISCOMMUNICATION: We communicate through language, symbols, gestures and our whole bodies. But just as we are able to communicate through all these means, there is also the potential to miscommunicate, or send unintended or false messages. Possibly the greatest source of potential miscommunication is mixing HC and LC communication modes such as when one party is communicating in a HC way and the other in a LC way, or when a LC medium is used in a HC way. The potential for miscommunication using the same language, for example English, rises when it is simultaneously used in a HC way and a LC way at the same time. The rules governing the two modes are examined and compared, and the potential situations for cross-cultural miscommunication and conflict are presented on a contextual scale ranging from language, to pictorial, to visual, to aural, to tactile, to kenesic, and finally to olfactory. 7. UNDERSTANDING CONFLICTS IN DIFFERENT CULTURES: Much of the conflict we experience in our global „market place‟ today is due to the experience of unfulfilled culture-specific expectations. We can avoid the conflict by understanding what causes it cross-culturally, in other words by understanding what is „acceptable‟ and what is not, cross-culturally. This process begins with recognizing the sources and contexts of crosscultural miscommunication. It involves knowing the answer to the all important question „what are the expectations of the other.‟ But this is not easily discovered. Such cultural expectations are implicit. Their discovery involves a process of „negative feedback‟ and inference. And it requires the discovery of one‟s own culture-based expectations. A basic method for discovery of conflictual cultural pathways is presented. 8. RESPONDING TO CONFLICTS IN DIFFERENT CULTURES: Understanding why conflicts occur is one thing and resolving them is another. Every culture has its own pathways for resolving conflicts. Do you know yours? When expectations regarding conflict resolution are different or when parties in conflict are on different cultural tracks, their expectations regarding the stages and processes of the resolution process will be different. Different tracks lead to mutually unfulfilled expectations. This usually results in a heightening of anxiety, fear or frustration, which in turn leads to a break in the process or the further devolution of the process and more conflict. Fostering the conflict resolution process can also mean adapting the implicit expectations of European 4 Peacebuilding NGOs to those of the local groups in conflict. The implications for crisis intervention and peacebuilding, especially for analysis and evaluation are explored.
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