Do you work in a multicultural, geographically dispersed team or organization? Do you lead one? Are you charged with developing diversity and inclusion competence, or intercultural competence, in your students, colleagues or clients? Would you benefit from an intercultural competence tool that looks at people as unique individuals influenced by multiple different cultures (organizational, professional training, age/generation, spiritual tradition) and teaches critical thinking in context?
Cultural Detective Facilitator Certification Workshops are designed for small groups who share two-and-a-half days of intense, guided interaction; current schedule of workshops is below. We explore what “intercultural communication competence” means and offer ways to use Cultural Detective to enhance intercultural effectiveness in your organization or community. We have three public sessions on the calendar for 2017:
IRELAND, Dublin, 22-24 May
USA, Portland OR, 22-23 July
AUSTRIA, Vienna, 23-25 November
Register now to secure your seat as spaces are limited. Certification Workshops are a wonderful way for the advanced practitioner to reflect on the things that matter, and develop the ability to combine and integrate various theories, approaches, and tools in the field. We explore the impact of multiple cultures on each of us, the idea of layering Value Lenses to visually represent these influences, and a variety of ways to incorporate Cultural Detective into your training, teaching and coaching.
Clients want to hire experts. Are you an expert? I hope not! At least, not in the sense many of us traditionally think of “experts.”
Cross-cultural service providers need to be deeply competent in a variety of disciplines: intercultural communication, learning theory, the context of the organization or community, the people involved, etc. However, even though clients frequently push us into the role of “the expert with the answers,” assuming that role tends to be the wrong approach to building intercultural competence. That’s probably why I find the video below so amusing, and why Cultural Detective Facilitator Certifications focus on facilitation competence rather than information delivery.
Sure, cross-cultural effectiveness may require that we know how to tie a sari correctly, bow appropriately, or kiss the expected number of times. And we need to know the business at hand, e.g., the requirements of virtual teaming or methods of procurement—the specifics of what we’re involved in. It may require that we know how to draw red lines, as in the video. These things require information—a positivist approach. There may be a single “right” answer.
Most often, a client tells an expert what he wants, and then hopes the expert will simply “make it happen.” No need for the client to get overly involved; just leave it up to the expert. When a client (or student) asks an expert a question, they want a clear, specific answer—not “it depends.” Yet, in cross-cultural situations, so much does depend. “Correct” answers are contextual: how well do you know someone, are you meeting them socially or professionally, what country and region are you in, what social strata? Do you want to build market share or gain return on investment? Are you new to a market or have you been there for decades? What’s your reputation? A relativist approach allows for cultural and contextual differences—key to effectiveness and appropriateness.
While both positivism and relativism have their place in developing cross-cultural competence, the real change-maker is in a constructivist approach. The Japanese may generally do something a certain way, but that doesn’t mean an expat, immigrant, or visitor should or must do it that way. People need to find their way of being successful in a new environment—a way that works for them personally. True intercultural effectiveness requires client engagement, along with expert guidance.
Take my friend Doug. He is US American, and he has a loud and infectious laugh that he regularly engages in with a wide-open mouth and a slap on his leg. Most definitely not common Japanese practice, right? So, when he goes to Japan, do you take a positivist approach, and teach him a Japanese-style laugh? Will that be the key to his success in Japan? Do you compare Japanese laughter to US American laughter, or his friends’ laughter to his? In Doug’s case, when he moved to Japan he didn’t really adjust his laughter at all. His laugh is a core part of who he is, and most Japanese colleagues and friends love him for it. Sure, they may have been surprised at first. But his laugh is genuine, it’s him, and they understand that. Doug was highly successful in Japan, perhaps despite his loud laugh, but more probably, in part, because of it. He adapted his style in other ways.
Such is the constructivist nature of intercultural competence. Together, we co-construe, we “construct” our shared experience, and through that, we make sense of our relationships. Cultural Detective takes a constructivist approach. Yes, the CD Method contains elements of positivism (Values Lenses) and relativism (Worksheets), too, but they are used with the goal of learning about ourselves and others, and creating bridges that will enable each of us, and our organizations and communities, to be our best.
“The wise man doesn’t give the right answers,
he poses the right questions.”
French Anthropologist, 1908-2009
In dealing with a client that wants an “expert,” the clue to remember is what kind of expert you are. Effective intercultural facilitation is difficult, and we as facilitators do not have the “answers.” The “answers” reside in the client, the team members, community members, or key stakeholders. Our job is to bring the answers out, help make them known, help refine them so they are real and workable, and so that they enable intercultural effectiveness. This requires a high level of expertise: to help the client look inward and develop the answers themselves, when they are looking for a “magic” solution from an outside expert.
Learning opportunities to acquire good, effective intercultural facilitation skills are often hard to find. We are pleased to offer workshops that will help you gain and improve facilitation skills useful in intercultural contexts. Our Cultural Detective Facilitation Certification workshops are quite popular with both new and experienced facilitators, who always learn more than they expected. Three opportunities are scheduled this year:
In addition, Daniel Yalowitz and I are offering a course at SIIC, “Gaining Gaming Competence: The Meaning Is in the Debriefing.” This experiential workshop focuses on current best practices and theories for creating, facilitating, and debriefing meaningful intercultural games, activities, and simulations. This is an excellent opportunity to gain a wealth of information in a short period of time. More information can be found here: http://www.intercultural.org/11.php.
Please join us for one of these upcoming events, to hone your intercultural facilitation skills to an “expert” level! In this way we can accomplish our shared goals of spreading intercultural competence to build understanding, collaboration, equity and justice in our world.
One of my oldest and dearest friends is Venezolana, a teacher who loves her country, fights for the future of children, and hates what’s been happening there—15 years of runaway inflation, shortages, insecurity, lack of opportunities. She write me, “Ay, comadrita, all of this is so sad. They are killing the students. We are very scared. Please pray for us.”
Protests began innocently enough, with traditional cacerolazos (beating of pots and pans) lead by upstanding citizens. Our friend’s sister is a choir leader at her church; she was attacked by colectivos—state-sponsored paramilitaries on motorcycles—in front of her church while beating a pan. Her glasses were stolen, her photo was taken, and she was threatened with death.
Christian Veron / Reuters
Jorge Silva / Reuters
I am repeatedly told that people in Venezuela feel cut off from the international community. Twitter is their only way to really communicate. They desperately want everyone to know what’s going on and how we can help them trying to make change with people power. The Venezuelan diaspora is organizing, called “SOS Venezuela.”
Please do what you can to raise awareness and get help their way. We can transform our world. There is power in each of us, some small step we can take, towards justice and peace.