What did you say? mindful interculture communication [201608 icgse]

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  • What Did You Say? Mindful (Intercultural) Communication

    Greetings! I am pleased to see that we are different.

    May we together become greater than the sum of both of us.

    Surak in the Savage Curtain episode of Star Trek

    Frederick Zarndt frederick@frederickzarndt.com



  • Mindfulness

    Mindfulness is being in touch with and aware of the present moment, as well as taking a non-evaluative and non-judgmental

    approach to it.

  • Mindfulness vs. mindfulnessWhen the mind is not mindful and attentive, it follows its habitual patterns of liking, disliking, rejecting, pursuing, projecting, and

    being for and against things. Clear attentiveness is awareness that is free from the process of reacting, without adding or subtracting

    anything from the experience.

  • Self aware a clear perception of your personality, including strengths,

    weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, motivation, and emotions allows you to understand other people, how they perceive you, your

    attitude and your responses to them in the moment.

  • A Wandering Mind Is an Unhappy Mind

    Many philosophical and religious traditions teach that happiness is to be found by living in the moment, and practitioners are trained to

    resist mind wandering and to be here now. These traditions suggest that a wandering mind is an unhappy mind. Are they right?

    Matthew A. Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert. A wandering mind is an unhappy mind. Science, Nov 2010. http://www.sciencemag.org/

  • 1. Be mindful and (self) aware

    2. Be impeccable with your word

    3. Dont take anything personally

    4. Dont make assumptions

    5. Always do your best

    Adapted from The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz

  • The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it

    has taken place.

    George Bernard Shaw,1925 Nobel Peace Prize for Literature.


  • I most enthusiastically recommend this candidate with no qualifications whatsoever.

    What did you say?

  • In my opinion you will be very fortunate to get this person to work for you.

    What did you say?

  • Please revert as soon as possible.

    What did you say?

  • What does this mean?

    Finefor Parking


  • What do you see?

    The young girlis turning away...

    The old womanis very sad...

  • What do you see?

  • Why (better) communication is necessary

  • A survey of 752 IEEE members conducted by IEEE Spectrum and The New York Times discovered that "just 9 percent of 133 respondents whose organizations currently offshore R&D reported 'No problem'. The biggest headache was 'Language, communication, or culture' barriers, as reported by 54.1 percent of respondents." (http://www.spectrum.ieee.org/feb07/4881)

    In a March 2007 web poll conducted by the Computing Technology Industry Association "nearly 28 percent of the more than 1,000 respondents singled out poor communications as the number one cause of project failure". (http://www.comptia.org/pressroom/get_pr.aspx?prid=1227)

    Nilay Oza et. al. in their study Critical Factors in Software Outsourcing: A Pilot Study of top Indian outsourcing firms named cultural differences and language as the 2 most difficult among the 5 difficulty factors identified in outsourcing relationships.

    In their 2006 study Crticial factors in establising and maintaing trust in software outsourcing relationships presented at the International Conference on Software Engineering, Nguyen, Babar, and Verner identified communication and cultural understanding as the 2 factors most critical to maintaining trust relationships.

    Huang and Trauth identified three themes as major cross-cultural challenges: "...the complexity of language issues in global virtual work, culture and communication styles and work behaviors, and cultural understandings at different levels." (Cultural influences and globally distributed information systems development: Experiences from chinese IT professionals)

    Why (better) communication is necessary


  • projects are about communication, communication, and communication"

    B. Elenbass. Staging a project: Are you setting your project up for success?. Proceeding of the Project Management Institute Annual Seminars & Symposiums. 2000.

  • Wiio's laws of (mis-)communication

    Osmo A Wiio in Wiion lait - ja vhn muidenkin cf. http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/wiio.html

    1. Communication usually fails, except by accident

    1.1.If communication can fail, it will

    1.2.If communication cannot fail, it still most usually fails

    1.3.If communication seems to succeed in the intended way, there's a misunderstanding

    1.4.If you are content with your message, communication certainly fails

    2. If a message can be interpreted in several ways, it will be interpreted in a manner that maximizes the damage


  • 4. There is always someone who knows better than you what you meant with your message.

    5. The more we communicate, the worse communication succeeds. 5.1.The more we communicate, the faster misunderstandings


    6. In mass communication, the important thing is not how things are but how they seem to be.

    7. The importance of a news item is inversely proportional to the square of the distance.

    8. The more important the situation is, the more probably you forget an essential thing that you remembered a moment ago.

    Osmo A Wiio in Wiion lait - ja vhn muidenkin cf. http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/wiio.html

    Wiio's laws of (mis-)communication


  • Exercise: Introductions

    Introduce yourself and say where you were born Say one thing about you that you really like Say one thing about you that you dont so much


    Tell one unique thing shared by all / most members of your native culture that is different from other cultures

    Do this is 2 minutes or less!

  • Goals

    Personal goal: Through my behavior in thought, word, and deed to be and to become a better person

    Business goal: Everyone wins as measured by the 4 way test*

    1. Is it the truth? 2. Is it fair to all concerned? 3. Will it build goodwill and better friendships? 4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

    * Adapted from Herbert Taylors 4 way test. See http://www.rotary.org


  • Goals

    Personal goal: Through my behavior in thought, word, and deed to be and to become a better person

    Business goal: Everyone wins as measured by the 4 way test*

    1. Is it the truth? 2. Is it fair to all concerned? 3. Will it build goodwill and better friendships? 4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

    Your goals?

    * Adapted from Herbert Taylors 4 way test. See http://www.rotary.org


  • The basic human

  • Genetic difference at most 0.5%

  • Estimated number of neurons in an adult human brain 10,000,000,000 (1011)*

    Estimated number of synapses in an adult human brain:100,000,000,000,000 (1014)

    Estimated number of synaptic connections for each neuron: 7,000

    Number of combinations of n (1011) neurons with s (7000) synapses C (n, s) = C (1011, 7000) is very large (for example, the number of combinations of n (52) cards taken 5 at a time C (52,5) is 2,598,960

    * Another estimate is 86 x 109 total neurons, 16.3 x 109 in the cerebral cortex and 69 x 109 in the cerebellum.

    Genes, neurons, and synapses: How humans are different

  • Humans have about 3,000,000 nucleotides. Maximum genetic variation based on

    single nucleotide polymorphism is 0.1% or 1 difference in 1000 base pairs

    copy number variation resulting from deletions, insertions, inversions, and duplications is 0.4%

    Total maximum genetic difference between two randomly selected humans is ~0.5%.

    Genetic difference between human and chimpanzee is ~4%.

    Genes, neurons, and synapses: How humans are alike

  • Reticular activating systemThe Reticular Activating System (RAS) is a diffuse network of nerve pathways in the brainstem connecting the spinal cord, cerebrum, and cerebellum, and mediating the overall level of consciousness.

    RAS filters data coming to your mind so that your perception of events agrees with your past experience.

    Everything you see, hear, smell, feel and touch is a message entering your brain. RAS filters through all these messages and decides which ones will get attention from your consciousness.




    Exercise (+)

    Noise (+)

  • Basic human nature

    Physical Vehicle comprised of meat body and its needs. (Latin physica things relating to nature.)

    Emotional Motivational force for human activities. (Latin emovere move.)

    Mental Sets goals, creates problems, solves problems. (Latin mens mind, Indo-European / Sanskrit revolve in the mind, think.)

    Spiritual Relationship to creator. (Latin spirare breathe.)

    Regardless of culture, humans have 4 basic natures. With only slight racial and geographic differences, the physical body is the same for all cultures. How humans meet their physical needs -- water, food, shelter, procreation -- and fulfill their emotional, mental, and spiritual natures differs from culture to culture and from person to person.

  • Basic human activities

    Relationship Manner in which one connects to and interacts with other humans. (Latin referre bring back.)

    Work Physical and mental activity intended to achieve a purpose or result or to create something.

    Recreation Activities done for enjoyment and to re - create oneself. (Latin recreare to create again, renew.)

    Devotion Activities to fulfill and develop spiritual nature. (Latin devotionem to dedicate by a vow.)

    Basic physical needs -- water, food, shelter, procreation -- are fulfilled in variety of culture specific ways. Once these needs are met, humans from every culture engage in 4 fundamental activities.

  • Culture is like the color of your eyes: You cannot hide it and can change it only with difficulty, and although you yourself cannot see it, it is always visible to others when you interact with them.

    Culture Any knowledge passed from one generation to the next, not necessarily with respect to human beings. Culture is a collective phenomenon shared with people within the same social environment.

    Culture is learned, it is not innate.

    Culture is different from personality but the border between culture and personality is fuzzy.

    Definitions of culture

  • Culture


    Human Nature


    Inherited and Learned


    Specific to Individual

    Specific to Group


    Levels of mental programming

  • Cultural expectations

    Cultures similar Cultures different

    Behaviors and values

  • Perception

    To become conscious of or aware of through the senses (Latin perceptin or perciptio: comprehension, taking in)

  • realize that there is no color in the natural world and no sounds nothing of this kind; no textures, no patterns, no beauty, no scent. the world out there is synthesized in our consciousness.

    Sir John Eccles,1963 Nobel Peace Prize for Medicine.

  • Process of perception

    1. Sensation (observation) 2. Awareness (interpretation) 3. Evaluation (judgement)

  • That manis running

    Perception: Observation

  • He mustbe late...

    Perception: Interpretation?

  • Those foreignersare always in

    a hurry!

    Perception: Judgement

  • Perception

    Much of what you think happened or what you think you heard is based on


  • Perception Mother and daughter

  • Perception Mother and daughter Innocence Project

    Eyewitness misidentification is the single greatest cause of wrongful convictions, playing a role in more than 75% of convictions overturned through DNA testing.

    Exonerated 342 wrongfully convicted men in USA (as of Jul 2016)

  • Perception Mother and daughter

    Crab Nebula supernova In 1054 a star in the region of what is now know as the Crab Nebula

    exploded. For several days it was the 3rd brightest object in the sky, bright enough to be seen in daytime.

    The supernova was observed and recorded by Chinese, Japanese, and Arab astronomers and by native Americans. There are few and very obscure recorded European observations.

    Innocence Project Eyewitness misidentification is the single greatest cause of wrongful

    convictions, playing a role in more than 75% of convictions overturned through DNA testing.

    Exonerated 342 wrongfully convicted men in USA (as of Jul 2016)

  • Exercise: Misperceptions

    Think of one of your own misperceptions or a misperception that you witnessed. It may have been the

    result of your own personal or cultural programming or the result of your assumptions about a situation, relationship, or

    the circumstances.

  • Stereotype (definition):

    an idea that is used to describe a particular type of person or thing, or a person or thing thought to represent such an idea.

    a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing

  • Culture stereotypes

    Advantages of stereotypes Disadvantages of stereotypesPrediction of cultural behaviors Stereotypical behavior does not match real


    Illuminates intent Expected intent disguises real intent

    Helps one avoid giving offense

    Ability to put things in conceptual categories is fundamental to perception.

  • Exercise: Cultural stereotype

    Think of a cultural stereotype from your own or from another culture. Think of advantages, disadvantages,

    and dangers of the stereotype.

  • Cultural models

    Richard Lewiss Cultural Categories Hofstedes 5 Dimensions of Culture Trompenaar and Hamden-Turners

    Cultural Dimensions

    Others ...

  • Richard Lewiss cultural categories

    Linear-active cultures tend to be task-oriented, highly organized planners who complete action-chains by doing one thing at a time, preferably in accordance with a linear agenda.

    Multi-active cultures are loquacious, impulsive, like to do many things at the same time, and attach great importance to feelings, relationships and people-orientation.

    Reactive cultures rarely initiate action or discussion, preferring first to listen to and establish the others position, then react to it and formulate their own. Reactive cultures listen before they leap.

    Adapted from Richard D Lewis

  • Exercise: Classify your culture

    Using Richard Lewiss cultural categories - linear-active, multi-active, and reactive - classify the culture you lived in as a child.

    If you think that your personality is different from your native culture, classify it, too. If it is different, why is it different?

  • Cultural types model

    Figure copyright Richard D Lewis

  • Culture category statistics

    Linear-active 600,000,000

    Multi-active 3,300,000,000

    Reactive 1,700,000,000

    Hybrid (multi-active and reactive) 290,000,000

    Total (approx.) 6,000,000,000

    Adapted from Richard D Lewis

  • Exercise: What will you do?

    You must fly to a business meeting in another country. You ask your very good friend to drive you to the airport. Whilst driving to the airport, your friend hits and seriously injures a

    pedestrian. S/he drives on without stopping. Later the police catch her/him and expect you to testify about the

    incident in court. What can your good friend exp...