Cross-Cultural Trainingto Improve Intercultural Understanding and Communication Kenneth Cushner, Ed. D. Kent State University U. S. A.
Whether people like it or not, they are increasingly being expected to engage in interpersonal interactions with people from cultures different from their own
Increased Intercultural Interaction is Evident in: • the global business marketplace; • international tourism; • changes in immigration policies and domestic diversity; • movement of international students; • changes in school curricula in response to above.
In addition, we share the limited resources of a relatively small planet • The complex problems of today will only be solved by the contributions of many different people – or they will not be solved!
Goals of Intercultural Training • Interculturally effective people are: -able to deal with psychological stress -able to communicate effectively -able to develop and maintain interpersonal relationships -able to complete task
Goals of Intercultural Training • Teach people to distinguish between two aspects of culture: • Objective culture – or “Big C” • Tangible, visible aspects of people • Subjective culture – or “little c” • Invisible, intangible elements
Objective - Subjective Culture • Culture, like an iceberg, tends to show only a small portion on the surface
Objective - Subjective Culture Objective culture Subjective culture It is at the level of subjective culture where most intercultural misunderstandings occur.
Goals of Intercultural Training Transcend ethnocentrism, thus help people become more ethnorelative • Understand processes of perception and categorization.
Goals of Intercultural Training • In general, reduce culture shock and ease adjustment to new cultural patterns • U-Curve Hypothesis U
Goals of Intercultural Training • Teach people to suspend judgment about others until more information is available by making isomorphic attributions • the judgments people make about others • Explain another’s behavior in the same way they would
Approaches to Intercultural Training • Most Common Training Strategies -Cognitive/University Approach -Experiential Approach -Interaction Approach -Attribution Training
Most researched of all the cross-cultural training approaches, and the one proven to have the most impact, is attribution training through the intercultural sensitizer or cultural assimilator
Presents a collection of critical incidents or stories that reflect a cross-cultural misunderstanding • Readers learn of subjective reasons behind another’s behavior
18-Theme Culture General Framework(Cushner and Brislin, 1996; Cushner, McClelland and Safford, 2000) Identified 18 culture-general themes found to be common in people’s intercultural interactions, regardless of where they are from, their particular role in society, and with whom they will interact; 3 general categories
18-Theme Culture General Framework(Cushner and Brislin, 1996; Cushner, McClelland and Safford, 2000) Experiences Which Engage People’s Emotions Knowledge Areas Bases of Cultural Differences
18-Theme Culture General Framework(Cushner and Brislin, 1996; Cushner, McClelland and Safford, 2006) • EMOTIONAL EXPERIENCES • anxiety • belonging • ambiguity • confronting prejudice of self and others • disconfirmed expectations
Anxiety • People tend to feel uncertain and anxious when in interaction with people of other cultures • People with high anxiety may have a tendency to avoid the situation
Belonging • All people have a need to belong and feel as if their contributions are welcome • When people do not feel as if they belong they may feel rejected and alienated, and may stop contributing
Ambiguity • When interacting with other cultures, all the necessary information may not be apparent • People may then act from their own knowledge base, which may not be accurate • People who work well across cultures have a high tolerance for ambiguity - and ask may questions.
Prejudice • Prejudice refers to the application of stereotypes to all members of a group, • Also, when in an intercultural situation, people may confront knowledge and beliefs about others that they previously held that they may no longer support.
Disconfirmed Expectations • Most people expect others to think and act as they do • They also have a tendency to expect certain outcomes • If what they expect does not come to pass, they may become quite upset
18-Theme Culture General Framework(Cushner and Brislin, 1996; Cushner, McClelland and Safford, 2006) • KNOWLEDGE AREAS • work • time/space orientation • language and communication • roles • group versus individual orientation • ritual and superstition • class and status • values
Work • People’s orientation toward work-related behavior can be significantly different. This is evident in such areas as: • problem solving • time-on-task versus emphasis on social relations • decision-making practices
Time and Space • Various attitudes exist on the importance of adhering to ‘clock’ time, relational time, flexible time, and so forth; • People’s orientation toward others in terms of spatial distance, placement of furniture, etc.
Communication and Language Use • One of the more obvious difference between people • Refers to verbal as well as nonverbal communication differences • Nonverbal differences account for most communication problems at the subjective level
Roles • A generally accepted set of behaviors people perform in relation to a position • Respect across cultures may differ in different roles • Cultural differences in roles may be evident with regard to age, position, gender, family, and so forth.
Group versus Individualism • The degree to which people act according to their individual needs or group needs • Differences across groups are most significant in this regard
Rituals and Superstition • One groups’ rituals are often seen as superstitions by another • What one group views as intelligent behavior may be seen by another as superstitious
Social Class • People tend to divide themselves according to some hierarchy • They may make distinctions based on various markers of high versus low status • Status differences may be quite different from culture to culture
Values • Refer to internalized views of broad areas as religion, economics, education • Accepted as proper and ‘right’ • Can be defended in extreme ways
18-Theme Culture General Framework(Cushner and Brislin, 1996; Cushner, McClelland and Safford, 2006) • BASES OF CULTURAL DIFFERENCES • categorization • differentiation • ingroup-outgroup distinctions • learning styles • attribution process
Categorization • Refers to the act of grouping similar information together • Culture determines how people form categories • For example, in some cultures a dog is an animal to avoid, in others it is an important member of the family, in others it is food.
Differentiation • Fine distinctions people make in large categories of information that is important in their culture • For example, not all breeds of cattle do well in Turkey • People who do not differentiate categories in the same manner as locals may be viewed as ignorant.
Ingroups versus Outgroups • Refers to major distinctions all people make regarding others • Ingroup members are those one is close to, shares critical information, will marry, etc. • Outgroup members are those often kept at a ‘respectable’ distance • Different groups form ingroups in different ways
Learning Styles • Culture teaches people how to learn • Those serving as trainers should match their instructional style with people’s preferred method of learning.
Attribution Process • Attributions refer to the judgments people make about others • People judge others by such things as their behavior, speech, and other mannerisms • The goal is to judge people the same way they would judge themselves.
18-Theme Culture General Framework(Cushner and Brislin, 1996; Cushner, McClelland and Safford, 2000) The themes are introduced through Critical Incidents, or short stories that bring people from different cultures together to solve a problem Individuals read many critical incidents and begin to understand that subjective cultural elements at play
18-Theme Culture General Framework(Cushner and Brislin, 1996; Cushner, McClelland and Safford, 2000) The critical incidents are used to introduce readers to the important 18 culture general themes You may use critical incidents in a variety of ways
Impact of Intercultural Training • Has positive impact on cognitive, affective and behavioral domains • People learn a significant amount of useful information • Both parties in interaction feel more positive • People are more effective in their work
Incident Review • Read one incident • Discuss the incident in your group. • For incidents 1 and 2, identify which explanations best explain the situation. • For incident 3, what do you think is the problem? • Identify which of the 18-themes are evident • How are these themes evident in your work or experience?