Holding a meeting of people from different cultures

In one of the People and Business Management workshops that I facilitate we ask participants to outline how they would approach their first meeting as the manager of a multicultural team. I’m always pleasantly surprised by the imagination and inclusiveness of the responses.

This article in the Harvard Business Review provides useful guidance. Here’s an excerpt:

Do

  • Study up on the variations that exist among cultures and how those differences play out in the workplace
  • Create protocols and establish norms so that your colleagues understand how meetings will run
  • Incentivize colleagues to step outside their cultural comfort zones by institutionalizing rewards around what you’re trying to motivate people to do

Don’t

  • Be hung up on how people from certain cultures are supposed to act—remember, people are capable of adapting and adjusting their cultural default
  • Force a perfect dynamic in meetings—solicit colleagues’ opinions in other venues and encourage people to provide feedback in different ways
  • Overlook the importance of team bonding—encourage colleagues to get to know each other outside of meetings so that cultural differences won’t seem as glaring

 

Become more worldly, not more global

Henry Mintzberg and Karl Moore suggest that “managers should be urged to become more worldly, not more global.” I think it’s a relevant suggestion for all.

The Oxford Dictionary defines worldly as “experienced in life, sophisticated, practical.” The worldly person seeks out diversity as a way to enhance his understanding of other cultures while adding nuance and appreciation to his inherited background.

The global person, on the other hand, conforms to an emerging singular culture.

via Forbes.

Obese? Smoker? No Retirement Savings? Blame the language you speak

Study suggests that if your language’s syntax blurs the difference between today and tomorrow as do, say, Chinese and German then you are more likely to save money, quit smoking, exercise and otherwise prepare for times to come.

On the other hand, if you have three dollars in your IRA and a big credit-card balance, it’s a safer bet you speak English or Hausa or Greek or some other language that forces speakers to distinguish present from future.

The point is not that some peoples are futureless—all human beings understand the difference between today and next year just fine, no matter what tongue they speak. But languages, as the linguist Roman Jakobson observed, differ in what they require speakers to think about.

via Big Think.

Recent report on world’s largest bilateral trading relationship

The United States and Canada maintain the world’s largest bilateral trading relationship, one that has been strengthened over the past two decades by the approval of two major free trade agreements.

Although commercial disputes may not be quite as prominent now as they have been in the past, the two countries in recent years have engaged in difficult negotiations over items in several trade sectors, including natural resources, agricultural commodities, and intellectual property rights. (…) However, these disputes affect but a small percentage of the total goods and services exchanged.

From a recent report on Canada-U.S. Relations from the Congressional Research Service.

You live the way you greet

W.B. Stanford, commentary on Homer, Odyssey 5.205:

Note how the Greek greeting wished ‘joy’,

the Roman ‘health’ or ‘strength’ (ave, salve, vale),

the  Jewish ‘peace’ (shalom),

typically of each nation’s history.

via Laudator Temporis Acti.

Expert on nonverbal communication dies at 95

Anyone working in the field of communications (theoretical or applied) should be familiar with his work.

His website has links to his books.

Edward Hall – Obituary (Obit) – NYTimes.com.

What changed in the last 200 years

Powerful visuals are indeed worth a thousand words…