Master's in Advanced Studies in Intercultural Communications from University of Lugano is perfect for Cultural Brokers

The Master of Advanced Studies in Intercultural Communication from the University of Lugano in Switzerland is "designed to equip students with the tools to handle the challenges and opportunities of multiculturalism, an ever increasing characteristic of our societies which are marked by economic globalization as well as by values claiming universality, such as human rights.

These analytical and practice-oriented tools are necessary not only to understand but also to manage multicultural interaction in specific professional contexts.

Why study Intercultural Communication at University of Lugano?

The strong traditions of federalism and the decentralized institutional structure of Switzerland provide favourable conditions for the harmonious coexistence of cultures, languages and religions which characterizeour country.
The Italian speaking part of Switzerland, home of the University of Lugano, represents a minority language and culture in the national context. At the same time it provides a bridge between Northern Italy and the German and French speaking regions of Switzerland and the neighbouring countries. It is therefore a region particularly sensitive to multicultural questions and experienced in coping with them.
The use of several languages in a multicultural atmosphere is a strong point of USI. Furthermore, the university places great emphasis on interdisciplinary approaches to find solutions to concrete economic and social problems."

Quoted text above taken directly from their website.

Managing the Multicultural Team

From: Intercultures Magazine of the Canadian Foreign Affairs and International Trade Dept.

An interview with Jeanne Brett.

Jeanne Brett is the DeWitt W. Buchanan, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Dispute Resolution and Organizations and is the Director of the Dispute Resolution Research Center at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management.
How big of an issue is the challenge of working with multicultural teams?

It's huge! To get the best people to confront the complexities of managing global corporations, these businesses are pulling talent from all over the world. As a result, you're working multicultural teams even though you may all be located in Toronto. They probably didn't grow up in Toronto, and even if they did grow up in Toronto, they might be first generation immigrants. Their social-cultural background is implicit in how they go about social and professional interactions and that's where the problems arise.

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You've written about the problem areas and broken them down into four categories: communication styles, language, hierarchy/authority and decision-making. Let's start with decision-making–can you give me an example?

The example is actually an old example from when Groupe Bull, the Paris-based computer company, acquired Zenith Data Systems, an American company.

They were trying to put together the engineers from these two different groups. Of course the French engineers were trained in a French university system and the American engineers were trained in the American university system. They had a terrible time trying to understand each other and be patient with each other because the French were analyzing everything to the extent where the Americans thought it was over analysis, and the French thought the Americans were "shooting from the hip" and not spending enough time in analysis.

I have seen this in my own MBA class, with my French exchange students. They're trained that there's one best answer and therefore a lot of thought and analysis goes into trying to find that best answer. The Americans have really been trained that there's probably a multitude of best answers and some are best on some dimensions and some are best on the others, and over-analysis is just going to bog you down. So get one of the best answers and go with it and if it doesn't work, you've got a backup. These are very different perspectives on making decisions.

These things aren't just learned at university but also acquired through their socio-cultural backgrounds.

You see the same problem with Alcatel-Lucent situation where they've just essentially changed their top management because they have not been successful in integrating those two companies. It's the same thing; the engineers are trained very differently in school and so they approach problems differently. The way the other party approaches the problem not only drives you crazy, but you were trained that that's not the right way to do it.

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Along the same lines, I would imagine questions regarding the importance of hierarchy within certain cultures could also cause tensions?

The tendency is that people from , which tend to be Asian cultures, but are not exclusively Asian cultures by any means, are likely to be much more sensitive to the status differentials in the team. If you are low status, you defer to high status. If you are high status, you expect the low status people to defer to you. Western egalitarian culture people think this status doesn't really matter. They're in a team and they're supposed to be working together; everybody should be participating and here are all my ideas.

I was working with a really good group of executives the other morning and we were talking about multicultural teams. One of the slides that a colleague of mine uses demonstrates that as the size of the team increases, the number of people who talk doesn't. If you have a team of four people, two dominate. If you have a team of six people, two people dominate. As it gets bigger, it's an even bigger drop-off.

This is true in all teams, not just multicultural?

Yes, it's true in all groups in general. Then when you add the cultural differences between egalitarianism and hierarchy in Western and Eastern cultures on the dimension of deference to status, you get a relationship between who's talking and what their cultural background is. Which means there's got to be a reason why you've got these Asian culture people on your team and you're not hearing from them. So the deference to status, combined with a much greater focus on saving face, results in a reluctance to speaking up and also a very strong reluctance to deliver bad news, to tell somebody "I disagree." When you disagree, there is a tendency to not talk to the other party face to face but rather get the boss involved. That just drives the Western culture people crazy; "You've got a problem with what I did, come to me."

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Right. "Why don't you just tell me?"

Why did my boss come to me? You're not supposed to get the boss involved.

And of course the problems run both ways.

Exactly. In Asian cultures, that's when you do involve the boss. You involve the boss because if I confront you directly, there's a loss of face for both of us, but if the boss–who has higher status–handles it, then neither one of us lose face.

Assuming I've got a team that has problems, and they are of mixed cultures, how do I know that these cultural differences are the problem? How do I know that they're not related to other issues?

My sense is if the team is multicultural and you've got problems, it's probably healthy to try and identify those problems as cultural. It's very unhealthy to identify those problems as, you know, some crazy personality.

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What about organizational culture?

Well, if you'd identify it as an organizational problem, then there's something broken in the organization. Let's get away from culture for a minute and let's look at functional differences in an organization. People from Sales look at the world from volume perspective of their sales and people from Marketing look at the market share perspective. That's not broken!

We can't convince marketing that volume is their major criteria and vice- versa. We've learned with functional differences to allow these differences to co-exist. What we need to learn better in terms of cultural differences is to allow these different approaches to co-exist. And that's very hard.

In order to overcome these difficulties, in terms of managing a diverse or multicultural team, you present a couple of models: one is the fusion model and the other is the hybrid model.

There are really three models that I talk about in my These are models of collaborations, interactions, decision-making. How do you go about teamwork?

The model that many, many groups fall into was the subgroup dominant model. Which means one or small groups of team members ideally control everything. It's expedient and it's probably okay when you have a task that just needs reproducing constantly, and that task is going on in an environment that's not changing rapidly.

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So would an example of this be some sort of Business Process Outsourcing, like a call centre?

Yes, probably. So we have our way of doing it and it's very prescriptive. This is how we're going to do it and if we have to make changes, the subgroup is going to determine what those changes will be and we'll go forward. But the only reason we're having a multicultural team in that situation is that the same call centre would be facing different cultural groups calling in, different languages skills, etc.

Most multicultural teams are facing much more complex tasks–tasks that require the product or the service to be launched in different parts of the world. So, what happens then is you need to capture the diversity and the complexity that your multicultural team members have, and you need to transform it into decisions and services and strategies and products.

And the concept of fusions is one that the political scientists, particularly in northern Europe, are talking about a lot. We've applied it to multicultural teams and the best analogy for it is cooking; there's lots of fusion cooking and fusion restaurants around. There's one here in Chicago that is kind of an odd combination of Peruvian, I think, and Japanese. They're taking cooking techniques, ingredients, and mixing them up in a way that generates a unique solution. What's important about fusion is a cook can say okay, this is the Japanese part of the meal and this is the Japanese element of the taste, and this is the Peruvian. So that you really haven't lost the unique cultural parts of it.

And you've identified three means to keep this fusion model, or coexistence, going: substitute culture collaboration norms, introducing the unexpected, and mixing norms.

Those are three ways to keep this coexistence piece going.

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How do you distinguish between substituting cultural norms and mixing them?

Let's look at an example of a software development team. You've got part of the team in the U.S., part in Germany and the other part in India. They are working on code, passing it off to each other across time zones and essentially working on this project 24 hours a day. The team had agreed that all supporting documentation would be written in English. However, the Germans were not comfortable enough with English and instead wrote their documentation in German. The American portion of the team said "No, we agreed to English for all supporting documentation." But clearly, the Germans were not comfortable with that solution. So the Indians said "They are not comfortable with English; we can have the German material translated into English, and we can do it here in India for much less than in Europe or in the U.S."

So the norm for the team was that we do all the support documentation in English. Instead, the Germans substituted English for German. Then the team came up with kind of a mix solution and the acceptance of that mix as a way to deal makes things work.

The key in fusion is you make things work by respecting what the other party needs to do.

Earlier, you also mentioned a hybrid model of managing multicultural teams.

The one model kind of in the middle is a hybrid. So what you might get, and it's very hard to distinguish it from a fusion, would be the group doesn't just take the dominant subgroups cultural approach to problem solving or teamwork. The group develops its own hybrid approach. But then it is the group's approach and it is fixed, it isn't moving. But it's one that's been agreed upon. The major difference between the hybrid and fusion model is that the fusion is a moving target – it's much more fluid.

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You point out that typically in teams where the fusion model is used, consciously or unconsciously, you tend to find members who would score higher, if I can put it that way, on a cultural cognition or cultural intelligence test.


I have two questions on that: can you please give me your definition of cultural intelligence and is this something that can be taught?

Well, let's deal with the first thing first which is the definition of cultural metacognition. The formal definition is something like cultural consciousness and awareness during social interaction. So it's not just awareness of my biases, but it's seeing what's going on through another lens; "Oh, maybe the reason Marie is doing this is cultural."

So it's not only about oneself, but also about the interactions within a group.

Right. Right, there are four of them and here we're talking about cultural consciousness and awareness during social interaction. The other three are behavioural–what people do in multicultural situations; motivational–what people are interested in doing in multicultural situations, and cognitive–what people know about norms and practices in other cultures. In our research, we chose to use the metacognitive because we thought it's not what you know about the others, but it's that you're seeing the other people's behaviour in cultural terms. Seeing the behaviour of the other party as culturally tied as opposed to associated with personality.

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So is this something that can be taught or learned? Is it a selection issue? Or a mix of those two?

Well, you probably need to talk to , Professor at the Eli Broad Graduate School of Management, Michigan State University, about that.

Clearly what cultural metacognition is probably related to is metacognition generally. So people who are attuned to the social world that they're interacting with and responsive to it and trying to understand it. They're probably going to be culturally metacognitive too. It's probably more tightly related to metacognition than having a lot of cultural experience.

You know, the do's and don'ts can be taught. But the motivational thing I think is much more difficult.

What are some of the classic missteps that managers make when trying to correct these types of problems?

Managers set their teams up to fail because managers themselves fail to help the team anticipate cultural differences and fail to set norms for dealing with cultural differences, such as meaningful participation and coexistence–the two basic elements of fusion. They fail to come up with integrative, creative ways of dealing with the differences in ideas that meaningful participation and fusion generate. Instead, they revert to dictating the teams' solutions or letting a dominant subgroup take over. At a minimum, this leads to a lost opportunity for the team to learn to manage its own cultural problems.

Some Key Terms and Concepts Corporate Cultural Brokers (or those working with a Cultural Broker) Should Know

Acculturation: cultural modifications of an individual, group, or coplear by adapting to, or borrowing traits from, another culture; a merging of cultures as a result of prolonged contact. It should be noted that individuals from culturally diverse groups may desire varying degrees of acculturation into the dominant culture.

Asset Mapping:
A very important part of nonprofit and governmental approaches to problem solving, asset mapping or "community asset mapping" is a capacity-focused way of redeveloping devastated communities and can be applied to the sustainable development of underdeveloped communities. This positive approach is proposed as a substitute for the traditional deficits focus on a community’s needs and problems. Using problems to formulate human service interventions targets resources to service providers rather than residents, fragments efforts to provide solutions, places reliance on outside resources and outside experts, and leads to a maintenance and survival mentality rather than to community development.

Instead, they propose the development of policies and activities based on an understanding, or ‘map,’ of the community’s resources — individual capacities and abilities, and organizational resources with the potential for promoting personal and community development. This ‘mapping’ is designed to promote connections or relationships between individuals, between individuals and organizations, and between organizations and organizations.

The asset-based approach does not remove the need for outside resources, but makes their use more effective.

Assimilation: An integrated pattern of human behavior that includes thoughts, communications, languages, practices, beliefs, values, customs, courtesies, rituals, manners of interacting, roles, relationships, and expected behaviors of a racial, ethnic, religious or social group; the ability to transmit the above to succeeding generations; is dynamic in nature.

Cultural Awareness:
Being cognizant, observant, and conscious of similarities and differences among cultural groups and aware of the cultural differences that exist among seemingly homogenous cultural groups.

Cultural Brokering: This term has multiple definitions. Cultural brokering is defined as the act of bridging, linking, or mediating between groups or persons of different cultural backgrounds for the purpose of reducing conflict or producing change. A cultural broker acts as a go-between or liaison, one who advocates on behalf of another individual or group.

Cultural Competence:
refers to an ability to interact effectively with people of different cultures. Cultural competence comprises four components: (a) Awareness of one's own cultural worldview, (b) Attitude towards cultural differences, (c) Knowledge of different cultural practices and worldviews, and (d) cross-cultural Skills. Developing cultural competence results in an ability to understand, communicate with, and effectively interact with people across cultures.

Organizations with cultural competence:
• have a defined set of values and principles, and demonstrate behaviors,
attitudes, policies and structures that enable them to work effectively
• Have the capacity to (1) value diversity, (2) conduct self-assessment, (3)
manage the dynamics of difference, (4) institutionalization of cultural
knowledge, and (5) adapt to the diversity and the cultural contexts of the
communities they serve or do business with.
• Systematically engage relevant stakeholder perspectives and needs.
• Incorporate the requirements above in all aspects of policy development,
administration, operations, practices and product/service delivery.

Ethnicity: a group of human beings whose members identify with each other, usually on the basis of a presumed common genealogy or ancestry. Ethnic identity is also marked by the recognition from others of a group's distinctiveness and by common cultural, linguistic, religious, behavioral or biological traits. Usually a combination of these features identifies an ethnic group. Physical appearance alone does not consistently identify one as belonging to a particular ethnic group.

Intercultural Relations: a relatively new formal field of social science studies. It deals with the ability to get along with others, especially those from a different cultural background.

Some of the main topics of study are:

* reflection and development of cultural competence
* analyzing different cultural patterns in the world
* finding strategies for adapting
* solving problems in intercultural communication
* teaching social skills to reduce cultural misunderstandings
* studying the lifelong impact of youth and other exchanges

Linguistic Competence:
the capacity of an organization and its personnel to communicate effectively, and convey information in a manner that is easily understood by diverse audiences including persons of limited English proficiency, those who have low literacy skills or are not literate, and individuals with disabilities. The organization must have policy, structures, practices, procedures and dedicated resources to support this capacity. Modified from: Goode & Jones (modified 2004). National Center for Cultural Competence, Georgetown University.

Race: The term race or racial group usually refers to the concept of dividing humans into populations or groups on the basis of various sets of characteristics. The most widely used human racial categories are based on visible traits (especially skin color, cranial or facial features and hair texture), and self-identification.

Conceptions of race, as well as specific ways of grouping races, vary by culture and over time, and are often controversial for scientific as well as social and political reasons. The controversy ultimately revolves around whether or not races are natural types or socially constructed, and the degree to which observed differences in ability and achievement, categorized on the basis of race, are a product of inherited (i.e. genetic) traits or environmental, social and cultural factors.

Some argue that although race is a valid taxonomic concept in other species, it cannot be applied to humans. Many scientists have argued that race definitions are imprecise, arbitrary, derived from custom, have many exceptions, have many gradations, and that the numbers of races delineated vary according to the culture making the racial distinctions; thus they reject the notion that any definition of race pertaining to humans can have taxonomic rigour and validity. Today most scientists study human genotypic and phenotypic variation using concepts such as "population" and "clinal gradation". Many contend that while racial categorizations may be marked by phenotypic or genotypic traits, the idea of race itself, and actual divisions of persons into races, are social constructs.

Stakeholder (corporate): A corporate stakeholder is a party who affects, or can be affected by, the company's actions. The stakeholder concept was developed and championed by R. Edward Freeman in the 1980s. Since then it has gained wide acceptance in business practice and in theorizing relating to strategic management, corporate governance, business purpose and corporate social responsibility(CSR).

Stakeholder Engagement:
From an operational perspective, Stakeholder Engagement entails the creation of effective linkages between a) the management of stakeholders and b) implementing business objectives in order to achieve cumulative benefits.

Subaltern Perspective:
a term that commonly refers to the perspective of persons from regions and groups outside of the hegemonic power structure. This perspective must be kept in mind when brokering between a historically marginalized or oppressed cultural groups and those who are a part of a historically oppressive, imperialistic or colonizing culture.

Intercultural communication principles

From Wikipedia

Intercultural communication principles guide the process of exchanging meaningful and unambiguous information across cultural boundaries, in a way that preserves mutual respect and minimises antagonism. For these purposes, culture is a shared system of symbols, beliefs, attitudes, values, expectations, and norms of behaviour. It refers to coherent groups of people whether resident wholly or partly within state territories, or existing without residence in any particular territory. Hence, these principles may have equal relevance when a tourist seeks help, where two well-established independent corporations attempt to merge their operations, and where politicians attempt to negotiate world peace. Two factors have raised the importance of this topic:

* improvements in communication and transportation technology have made it possible for previously stable cultures to meet in unstructured situations, e.g. the internet opens lines of communication without mediation, while budget airlines transplant ordinary citizens into unfamilar milieux. Experience proves that merely crossing cultural boundaries can be considered theatening, while positive attempts to interact may provoke defensive responses. Misunderstanding may be compounded by either an exaggerated sensitivity to possible slights, or an exaggerated and over-protective fear of giving offence;

* some groups believe that the phenomenon of globalisation has reduced cultural diversity and so reduced the opportunity for misunderstandings, but characterising people as a homogeneous market is simplistic. One product or brand only appeals to the material aspirations of one self-selecting group of buyers, and its sales performance will not affect the vast multiplicity of factors that may separate the cultures.

What can go wrong?

People from different cultures encode and decode messages differently, increasing the chances of misunderstanding, so the safety-first consequence of recognising cultural differences should be to assume that everyone’s thoughts and actions are not just like ours. Such assumptions stem from potentially devastating ignorance and can lead to much frustration for members of both cultures. Entering a culture with this type of ethnocentrism, the assumption your own culture is correct, is another byproduct of ignorance and cultural misunderstanding. Main types of misunderstanding are:

A - Language

Even when two people think they can speak each other's language, the chance of error is high. Usages and contextual inferences may be completely different between cultures. So even though one speaker may have learned the vocabulary of the other's language, selecting the most appropriate words, with the correct intonation, spoken with appropriate eye contact while standing a proper distance from the other are all critical even before one considers the propriety of the topic to be discussed.

Rights, values, and needs

Some cultural characteristics will be easy to identify, e.g. whether people are conscious of status or make displays of material wealth. But many rights are assumed, values are implied, and needs are unspoken, (e.g. for safety, security, love, a sense of belonging to a group, self-esteem, and the ability to attain one's goals).

For example, issues of personal security, dignity, and control will be very different as between an abled and a disabled person. Similarly, there may be problems of respect when a person from a rigidly class-based culture meets a meritocrat, or where there is racism, sexism or religious intolerance in play. In such situations, identity is fundamental when disputing the proper role or "place" of the other, about who is in control of their lives, and how they present themselves to the outside world. But the reality is more deeply rooted in power relationships: about who is on top of the social, economic, and/or political hierarchy. Family members or long term rivals may be obsessed with their mutual competition. The relationships between racial or ethnic groups may be affected by economic jealousy. Nations may assert that their political systems are superior. Such conflicts are difficult to resolve because no-one wants to be the loser, and few are willing to share the winnings. Stereotyping can aggravate these problems and prevent people from realising that there is another way to interpret a situation, or that other groups may define their rights in a different way. Hence, what may appear just or fair to one group can often seem unjust to an opposing group.

B - Assumptions

People may misinterpret each other's motives. For example, one group may assume that they are simply exchanging information about what they believe, but the other believes that they are negotiating a change in behavior. This is most likely to arise when the parties are not completely honest with each other from the outset. Individuals may wish to protect their privacy, corporations may be concerned about industrial espionage, and politicians may be bound by requirements of secrecy in the national interest. Nevertheless, clarifying the purpose of the interaction is essential to eliminating confusion, particularly if vested interests are involved.

C - The situation

If time is not a factor and those interacting approach their meetings with good will and patience, effective communication is more likely. But, if the parties are under pressure (whether generated by external circumstances or internal needs), emotions may colour the exchange. Prejudice is a short-cut decision-making tool. In a crisis, fear and anger may trigger more aggressive tactics, particularly if the meeting is being staged under the gaze of the news media.

Improving Intercultural Communication

It is essential that people research the cultures and communication conventions of those whom they propose to meet. This will minimise the risk of making the elementary mistakes. It is also prudent to set a clear agenda so that everyone understands the nature and purpose of the interaction. When language skills are unequal, clarifying one’s meaning in five ways will improve communication:

1. avoid using slang and idioms, choosing words that will convey only the most specific denotative meaning;
2. listen carefully and, if in doubt, ask for confirmation of understanding (particularly important if local accents and pronunciation are a problem);
3. recognise that accenting and intonation can cause meaning to vary significantly; and
4. respect the local communication formalities and styles, and watch for any changes in body language.
5. Investigate their culture's perception of your culture by reading literature about your culture through their eyes before entering into communication with them. This will allow you to prepare yourself for projected views of your culture you will be bearing as a visitor in their culture.

If it is not possible to learn the other's language, it is expedient to show some respect by learning a few words. In all important exchanges, a translator can convey the message.

When writing, the choice of words represent the relationship between the reader and the writer so more thought and care should be invested in the text since it may well be thoroughly analysed by the recipient.

Research methods for communication and culture

The Semiotics of Communication analyses the verbal and non-verbal codes used to transfer information between people. Should these people have different cultural backgrounds, they may interpret verbal and non-verbal signals differently. Empirical methods for researching such differences propose that culture is learned by listening to, and observing the behaviour of, other members within the group. Direct and indirect interactions ensure that culture is passed from person to person and from generation to generation. The research methods are predominantly objective and quantitative, observing behaviour without considering the reasons behind it, and cataloguing the types of behavior identified as common within each culture. Data collection by observation is the primary method because intervention by the observer to ask for an explanation of the behaviour may produce unreliable subjective data and skew future behaviour when individuals are aware that they are being observed. But if researchers hypothesise that culture is coherent within the group because they share basic values (the assumption is that people think before they do), they must try to identify these basic values by inference or induction. A soft systems approach would explore multi-causal explanations of behaviour. Complexity would be assumed given age, gender, ethnicity, religion, class, personality, reaction to authority, the setting, the other party's behavior, and the presence or absence of an audience. This approach allows for more nuanced explanations but it may produce detailed explanations that are more difficult to use as a predictive tool.


Bovee, C.L, Business Communication Today, 7th Edition, (2003) Pearson Education


Intercultural Communication Tips

by Kwintessential

"Working across cultures is a new experience for many people. Intercultural communication can be a dynamic and creative affair but occasionally due to the inability to interpret people correctly it can be a challenge. Building an understanding of other people's cultures, their communication styles and behaviors can go a long way in improving relationships and being more successful in an intercultural environment.

Even without trawling through lots of books, articles or even taking part in an intercultural communication workshop it is possible to implement some basic principles to help improve one's intercultural communication skills. The following intercultural communication tips are provided to help people working in international and multicultural environments get some basic insight into dealing more effectively with people and not letting culture become an issue.

1. Be Patient: Working in an intercultural environment can be a frustrating affair. Things may not get done when expected, communication can be tiresome and behavior may be inappropriate. Patience with yourself and others helps move beyond such issues and address how to avoid similar incidents in the future.
2. Establish Rules: Sometimes if working in a truly intercultural team it may be necessary for all to take a step back and set down some ground rules. i.e. how do we approach punctuality, meetings, communication, emails, disagreements, etc? It is always a good idea to try and develop the rules as a group rather than have them imposed.
3. Ask Questions: When you don't understand something or want to know why someone has behaved in a certain way, simply ask. Asking questions stops you making assumptions, shows the questioned you did not understand them and helps build up your bank of intercultural knowledge.
4. Respect: The foundation of all intercultural communication is respect. By demonstrating respect you earn respect and help create more open and fruitful relationships.
5. The Written Word: Sometimes people who do not have English as their mother tongue will read more proficiently than they speak. It is a good idea to always write things down as a back up.
6. Time: Not everyone in the world thinks "time is money". Understand that for many people work is low down on the priority list with things like family taking a much higher precedence. Do not expect people to sacrifice their own time to meet deadlines. It is good practice to always leave a bit of spare time when considering deadlines.
7. Humour: In an intercultural environment one man's joke is another's insult. Be wary of differences in the sense of humour and also the acceptability of banter and the like in a business environment.
8. Always Check: The easiest way of minimizing the negative impact of intercultural communication is to check and double check. Whether agreeing something or giving instructions, a minute spent double checking all parties are 'reading from the same sheet' saves hours of work later on down the line.
9. Be Positive: When faced with incidents of an intercultural nature steer clear of blame and conflict. Stay positive, analyse the problem areas and work as a team to build strategies and solutions to ensure the same never occurs again.
10. Self-Reflect: A good intercultural communicator not only looks outwards but also inwards. Take time to reflect on your own communication, management or motivation style and see where you can improve as an individual.

Research into the area of intercultural communication and working in a multicultural environment continues to show that the culturally diverse team is usually the most inventive and vibrant. However, unless businesses and individuals start to address the area of intercultural communication as a serious business issue, this potential will not be realized."

© Kwintessential Ltd

A Must Read for Cultural Brokers

"A Dozen Rules of Thumb for Avoiding Intercultural Misunderstandings"
by: Elmar Holenstein

Intercultural understanding does not fail by reason of insurmountable ontological obstacles, which are only susceptible to philosophical analysis. Intercultural misunderstandings are of the same kind as intracultural misunderstanding on the part of members of one and the same culture who belong to different regions, social strata, professions and the like, and are like these susceptible to explanation in psychological and sociological terms. Observing a number of rules of thumb makes it possible to avoid such misunderstandings for the most part.

The governing principle of intercultural hermeneutics is the traditional hermeneutic principle of equity: What all, particularly those concerned, affirm on full consideration of the circumstances is taken as the basis. One of the first requirements is that one must take members of alien cultures seriously and that one must rather doubt one's own perception than their capacity for logical consistency, goal-orientated rationality and ethical responsibility.

Intercultural misunderstandings are often related to ideas now recognized as being dogmatic, to the assumption that cultures are homogeneous and stand in polar opposition to each other, to the supposition that ethical and ethnic differences are correlated, to the lack of distinction between ›is‹ and ›ought‹, but also, among those who seek salvation in alien cultures, to the lack of distinction between what in fact cannot be understood and what fundamentally cannot be understood.

* 0. Principle of hermeneutic fairness (›equity‹)
* 1. Rule of logical rationality
* 2. Rule of teleological rationality (functionality rule)
* 3. Humanity rule (naturalness rule)
* 4. Nos-quoque rule (we-do-it-too-rule)
* 5. Vos-quoque rule (you-do-it-too-rule)
* 6. Anti-crypto-racism rule
* 7. Personality rule
* 8. Subjectivity rule
* 9. Ontology-deontology rule (›is‹ versus ›ought‹)
* 10. Depolarization rule (rule against cultural dualism)
* 11. Non-homogeneity rule
* 12. Agnosticism rule
* Notes

The Often Complex Identities of Cultural Brokers is Epitomized by Adelina "Nina" Otero-Warren's Story

Adelina "Nina" Otero-Warren: A Spanish-American Cultural Broker.


"What is in a name?" This is the oft-quoted question from Shakespeare's tragic clash of two family cultures, Romeo and Juliet. For Adelina "Nina" Otero-Warren the answer to that query might possibly be a transforming identity at the intersection of cultures in early twentieth-century New Mexico. It is telling that throughout her energetic and ambitious life, she utilized her various names as needed. In 1881, Maria Adelina Isabel Emilia Luna Otero was born into two of New Mexico's older Spanish colonial families. As a child, she was Adelina Otero, keeping her father's name while growing up in the mixed Luna-Bergere household in Los Lunas. As an adult, she became known as "Nina" to family and friends in their new home in Santa Fe. At the age of twenty-six, she married and became "Mrs. Otero-Warren," a name she kept for life, even though she quickly divorced. In the late 1910s to 1920s, she was "Adelina Otero-Warren" as Chair of the Board of Public Health and "Nina Otero-Warren" as Superintendent of Santa Fe county schools. In 1931, she was Adelina Otero as the author of an article in Survey Graphic, and Nina Otero when she published Old Spain in Our Southwest in 1936.

These shifts in her named identity are crucial for understanding the life and career of this woman who came to be seen as the epitome of the early twentieth-century cultural broker in New Mexico. Throughout her long life, she moved between and negotiated compromises with the Hispano, Anglo, and American Indian worlds. She was one for whom multiple levels of identity were not only possible, but practical, for they allowed her to identify herself to both the Spanish-American and Anglo American worlds in which she moved. As the multiple use of names suggests, to be a cultural broker or intermediary is to live sometimes in one world and sometimes in another, but often never fully in either.