University of Phoenix
Cultural Diversity / SOC 315
July 27, 2006
Intercultural Communication in the Workplace
Elaine Winters, a noted subject matter expert on Cultural differences and awareness says, "Few people seem to feel the need to truly face the underlying issues that cloud even the simplest of delicate, and frequently confusing, cross-cultural interactions." There is no doubt as to the many cultural groups around the world with different patterns of behavior, values, and rules. In the workplace, not establishing intercultural communication can be a very expensive mistake. This paper will review a scenario in which intercultural communication is an issue. In the process, we will diagnose the situation and provide strategies to help facilitate intercultural competence and avoid intercultural misunderstandings.
XYZ simplistic incorporated located in San Francisco California, has just transferred, and promoted a new Director of Operations from their International office in India. Although his full name is Rajamid Sodhi, he goes by the name Roger in hopes to better fit in within the American culture. Reporting to Roger is a young American woman named Jill Scott. Jill is originally from California and has only been with XYZ for three months and is eager to prove her self worth and value. Upon meeting Roger for the first time, she had a sense of a passiveness and studiousness. She immediately assumed Roger was a type "B" personality, smart, friendly, reserved, polite, and deeply religious. She also assumed Roger was married and not interested in romance. Roger and Jill talk for a little while about politics in America and interesting things to do in San Francisco and the Bay area. Being ambitious and seeing this as a potential networking opportunity, Jill takes the initiative and offers to show Roger around the city. She feels this will be a way to pick his brain and create a sense of camaraderie. Women from California are often more aggressive and straightforward than other women around the world. Men and women here in America often do things together, like going to lunch, social gatherings, movies and so forth just as friends. There is no implied "date" under such circumstances. Roger, on the other hand, thinks, "Ah! This American woman is interested in me and wants to date and perhaps is conspiring to marry me." In Roger's culture, men and women do not see each other casually. Women do not go with a man unescorted and are not aggressive in their behavior. If men and women meet together, and especially if a woman offers to meet a man, then the goal of such a meeting is romantic, with implications that the two are committed to each other. Roger had developed the notion, from watching American movies and TV shows in his own country, that American women are eager to become physically involved with anyone and have what people in his country consider "loose morals." He sees this as an opportunity to have a potential sexual relationship with Jill. He thinks all American women are like that, and since Jane is an American woman, he assumes that is true about her, too. In fact, as soon as Jill began to talk to Roger, he began to notice her friendliness, smiles, and attention toward him. Although Jill did not mention a husband, she wears a ring on her left hand, but Roger did not notice it, or if he did, he did not pay much attention to it. After all, Jill was "coming on" to him. He was especially attuned to such behavior because he was lonely, had not been around a woman for a while, and was hoping for a date with someone. During the drive to lunch, Jill is shocked at Roger's "forward" behavior. He puts his hand on her leg. Given her appalled reaction, she has no idea why he is doing that. She pushes him away causing him to swerve. Roger is at first convinced that she is only teasing him, but...