Desert Highway
Thoughtful writing authored and shared by members of of the Thinking Collaborative community to support others on the journey.

Sustaining the Journey

Cultural Communication Patterns 1

Authored By:

Thinking Collaborative

Date:

August 04, 2014

As we work in settings that represent growing diversity, consciousness about our own cultural biases is necessary. Also, having frameworks for understanding the perspectives of others are useful. As we listen for deep structure, greater empathy and understanding emerge.

Coaching Across Cultures offers a useful framework for self-assessment and for valuing differences. The author provides a Cultural Orientations Framework. Over the next weeks, we will share some of the components that may be helpful for coaches and group members. As you read the descriptions, consider yourself as well as a group you regularly work with. Let us begin with Communication Patterns.

High context cultures focus on the implicit meanings and nuances in communication with great attention give to nonverbal and context. Low context cultures use more direct and specific communication. Without understanding these differences, assumptions get made and relationships can be compromised.

In direct cultures, messages are offered, even when difficult or risky, with an explicit message. In indirect cultures, there is effort to sustain relationships even when the message is misunderstood due lack of direct delivery. We often see this play out in conflict situations between individuals and groups.

As you analyze yourself and groups you work in, consider how consciousness of your own communication patterns might make you more effective. How might you paraphrase a person with a different pattern? What kinds of questions might make you uncomfortable given your own patterns? What might be some things to consider in a dialogue or coaching conversation with a person with a different pattern?

Source: Rosinski, P. (2003). Coaching across cultures: new tools for leveraging national, corporate and professional differences. London: Nicholas Brealey Publishing.

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