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Communicating Across Differences


Often misinterpretation is the source of the problem. ... Xers can discuss an issue without having to be right. ... Sexual Harassment Author: Psincore Last modified by: – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Communicating Across Differences

Communicating Across Differences
  • The objective of this training is to ensure
    Service members understand how cultural,
    generational, and gender communications can
    impact the work environment.
  • The content of this training focuses mainly
    on American cultural, generational, and gender
    communication characteristics that may have an
    impact in the workplace.

  • Communicating Across Differences
  • Cross-Cultural Communication
  • Cross-Generational Communication
  • Cross-Gender Communication
  • Effective Communication Strategies

Communicating Across Differences
  • Understanding human dynamics and differences is
    an essential aspect of planning for success
    across the full spectrum of military and national
    security operations (Defense Science Board,
    Understanding Human Dynamics, 2009).
  • Understanding the diversity of communication
    helps individuals and organizations to build an
    institutional culture that incorporates
    differences, develop multicultural teams, recruit
    and retain a diverse workforce, resolve conflict
    between employers and employees, reduce turnover,
    and promote employee productivity.
  • As the challenges we face require a Joint
    Force that is flexible, agile, and adaptive, it
    emphasizes people as much as platforms. It
    recognizes that the unique character of our
    Service membersis a formidable advantage.
  • - 2011 National Military Strategy

Communicating Across Differences
  • In the DoD, most communication involves speaking
    and writing, but also includes nonverbal
    communication such as body language, graphics,
  • Studies show that at least 75 percent of each
    work day is consumed by talking and listening. At
    least 70 percent of all workplace communication
    fails to achieve the intended purpose
  • The ability to effectively communicate across
    differences will have a positive impact on
    communication and ultimately performance

Communicating Across Differences
  • How we communicate in a diverse society is a
    major challenge. It is important that we
    understand differences in customs and patterns of
    thinking in this increasingly diverse society
  • Through our interactions and confrontations of
    differenceof perspective, of prior experience,
    of style, of identitythat we come to recognize
    the limits of our own perspectives, experiences,
    and styles (Gentile, 1998).

Communicating Across Differences
  • One should always assume that there is a
    significant possibility that communication
    patterns may be causing communication problems,
    and be willing to be patient and forgiving,
    rather than hostile and aggressive, if problems
  • One should respond slowly and carefully when
    communicating across differences, not jumping to
    the conclusion that you believe what is being
    thought and said.
  • Understanding the context and the receivers
    perspective, including culture, gender, and the
    generational perspective, can increase
    communication flexibility.

Communicating Across Differences
  • The following may contribute to communication
    problems (not inclusive)
  • Cultural Differences
  • Generational Differences
  • Gender Differences
  • Language
  • Stereotypes
  • Misinterpretation

Communicating Across Differences
  • The key to effectively communicating across
    differences is knowledge
  • First, it is essential that people understand
    the potential problems of cultural, generational,
    and gender communication. Individuals need to
    make a conscious effort to overcome these
  • Second, it is important to assume that ones
    efforts will not always be successful, and adjust
    ones behavior appropriately.

Cross-Cultural Communication
  • Cross Cultural Communication
  • Process of exchanging, negotiating, and
    mediating one's cultural differences through
    language, non-verbal gestures, and space
    relationships.  It is also the process by which
    people express their openness to a cross-cultural
    experience. (Gotland University)
  • Cross Cultural Communication is interactive and
    calls for reflective listening.
  • If there are significant cultural differences,
    miscommunication will occur, even with all the
    goodwill intended.

Cross-Cultural Communication
  • Cross-cultural communication involves exploring
    ways in which various groups within our society
    relate to each other
  • Culture may often be at the root of communication
    challenges, and can influence miscommunication,
    as well as, participation in other cultural
    groups and communities
  • Culture shapes values, beliefs, norms, and
    practices of members of the same cultural group,
    and it guides their thinking, doing, and being,
    becoming patterned expressions of who an
    individual is (Hofstede, 1997)

Cross-Cultural Communication
  • The impact of cross-cultural communication may be
    seen in how some White and Asian Americans
    typically consider raised voices to be a sign of
    increased aggression, while some Blacks,
    Hispanic, Jewish, and Italian Americans often
    feel that an increase in volume is a sign of an
    exciting conversation among friends (Beebe,
    Beebe, Redmond, 2005 ).
  • Across cultures, some words and phrases are used
    in different ways. For example, even in countries
    that share the English language, the meaning of
    yes varies from maybe, Ill consider it to
    definitely so, with many shades in between
    (DuPraw Axner, 1997).
  • Exploring ways in which various groups within our
    society have related to each other is key to
    opening channels for cross-cultural
    communication, and ultimately leading to
    cross-cultural competency (Kelly, 2008).

Cross-Cultural Communication
  • Cross-Cultural Competence
  • The development of knowledge and skill through
    experience and training that results in a complex
    schema of cultural differences,
    perspective-taking skills, and interpersonal
    skills (communication), all of which an
    individual can flexibly (or adaptively) apply
    through the willingness to engage in new
    environments even in the face of considerable
    ambiguity, through self-monitoring and through
    self-regulation to support mission success in a
    dynamic context (DEOMI Working Definition).

Cross-Cultural Communication
  • Effective Cross-Cultural Communication
  • When things seem to be going badly, stop or slow
    down and think. What could be going on here? Is
    it possible I misinterpreted what they said, or
    they misinterpreted me? Often misinterpretation
    is the source of the problem.
  • Active listening can sometimes minimize
    misinterpretationsby repeating what one thinks
    he or she heard, one can confirm that one
    understands the communication accurately.
  • If words are used differently between languages
    or cultural groups, however, even active
    listening can overlook misunderstandings.

Cross-Generational Communication
  • The phrase cross-generational communication
    describes the ability to successfully form,
    foster, and improve communication with members of
    a generation different from one's own (DEOMI
    Working Definition)

Cross-Generational Communication
  • For the first time in history, four generations
    are working side by side. Different values,
    experiences, styles, and activities sometimes
    create misunderstandings and frustrations
  • Over the next few years, 70 million Baby Boomer
    will retire
  • Generation X, a generation with different values
    and priorities than Boomers and Traditionalists,
    will assume leadership positions
  • The old models of who works and what they work
    for are steadily changing
  • Adapted from Marston, C. (2007). Motivating the
    Whats in it For Me? Generation Workforce.
    Hoboken, NJ John Wiley Sons, Inc.

Cross-Generational Communication
  • Understanding generational differences is
    critical to creating harmony, mutual respect, and
    joint effort
  • Though there is quite a range of generalizations
    outlining generational categories, and the
    nomenclature used to label the generations is not
    standardized, trends can be observed in which
    generations can by categorized

Cross-Generational Communication
  • Generational Categories
  • Traditionalists (born 1922-1943)
  • Baby Boomers (born 1943-1960)
  • Generation X (born 1960-1980)
  • Millennial (born 1980-2006)
  • Note There are many studies identifying the
    generational categories however, the ones shown
    above are common.

Generational Characteristics
Cross-Generational Communication
Characteristic Traditionalists Baby Boomers Generation X Millennials
Core Values Respect for authority Conforming Discipline Hard work Optimism Involvement Team orientation Personal gratification Diversity Skepticism Self-reliance Fun and informality Realism Achievement oriented Extreme fun Social
Family Traditional Disintegrating Latch-key kids Merged families
Education A dream A birthright A way to get there An incredible expense
Communi-cation Media Rotary phones One-on-one Write a memo Touch-tone phones Call me anytime Cell phones Call me only at work Internet Internet Mobile devices Texting and email

Cross-Generational Communication
  • Impacting the Work Environment
  • Traditionalists are logical and conservative
    communicators. Dont make it too personal, they
    dont express their inner thoughts and feelings
  • Boomers are the personable group and are all
    about meetings get together and discuss it.
    They use both face-to-face and electronic
    communications, but for those big decisions, they
    want to sit down and talk.
  • Generation X (Xers) want you to prove to them
    you know what youre talking about. They are
    individuals first, and a group second. Make it
    quick and direct, they dont have time for chit
    chat. They prefer electronic communication
    because its more efficient.
  • Millennials need feedback and are overall very
    positive. They have an affinity for networking
    and collaboration is their middle name. Text
    messaging is mandatory for this group, however
    they are great face-to-face with the

Cross-Generational Communication
  • Effective Cross-Generational Communication
  • Understand the generational motives.
  • Xers can discuss an issue without having to be
  • Boomers tend to be the my way or the highway
  • Traditionalists see things in black and white
    with ethics being first and foremost.
  • Millennials look for the greater good, almost
    like all for one and one for all.

Cross-Generational Communication
  • Effective Cross-Generational Communication
  • Its not what you say, but how you say it, with
    each of these groups. Our communication style
    must adapt to the realities of today, i.e.,
    face-to-face meetings combined with webinar-type
  • Look beyond appearances. Someone who appears
    old isnt brain dead someone who is a kid
    may have a brilliant idea if youd just take the
    time to listen.

Cross-Gender Communication
  • Cross-Gender Communication
  • Men and women are NOT the same. However,
    "different from" is not the same thing as "less
  • Being unaware of gender-related communication
    barriers may cause a misinterpretation and
    subsequent misguided reactions in the
    communication process
  • Gender-related communication differences and the
    awareness of gender-related communication
    barriers may play an important role in
    communication effectiveness

Cross-Gender Communication
  • Cross-Gender Communication
  • Research suggests that men generally strive for
    mastery, independence, and self-assertiveness in
    communication, whereas women strive for
    connectedness, cooperation with others and
    emotional openness (Stake, 1997).
  • Communication is a primary method of maintaining
    relationships. Miscommunication and conflict can
    occur when male and female communicators
    interpret language semantics differently (Rodino,

Cross-Gender Communication
  • Gender Communication Barriers
  • Men interrupt more in conversations, whereas
    women take turns (Butler Geis, 1990)
  • Women tend to be inclusive in their
    communication, whereas men exhibit
    individualistic behavior (Wood Dindia, 1998)
  • Women model non-gendered language more often than
    do men (Blaubergs, 1980)
  • Men are prone to linear thought patterns, whereas
    women favor web thinking or the cognitive
    process of bringing in more details for
    consideration (Fisher, 1999).

Cross-Gender Communication
  • Effective Cross-Gender Communication Strategies
  • Commit yourself to ongoing self-analysis of your
  • Evaluate how you filter and potentially distort
    the way you see and communicate with other
  • Be aware of preferences and behaviors that are
    gender-based and not the correct or only ones
  • Become sensitive to a range of verbal and
    nonverbal behavior.
  • Have an open mind to other views and ways of
    doing things
  • There are no universal gestures or cultural
  • Address and challenge questionable behavior
    before it escalates

Effective Communication Strategies
  • The workforce is becoming more globalized. Its
    important to communicate properly with people of
    different genders, ethnicities, backgrounds,
    cultures, ages, and races.
  • Topics difficult to communicate about include
    world views, religion, culture, stereotypes,
    race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and
    generational differences languages, verbal and
    non-verbal behavior gestures impact
  • Customs and slang language make communications
    more difficult
  • Often what is meant is not what is heard,
    intended or not
  • Stereotyping and generalization cloud the issues

Effective Communication Strategies
  • Listening  Attentive, open-minded listening is
    critical to understand meanings read between the
    lines and empathize with the speaker.
  • Speaking  Improve communication with positive
    speech encouragement, affirmation, recognition,
    phrasing requests clearly, expressing opinions
    sensitively will. Avoid negative or stereotypical
    comments and innuendo based on gender, race, age,
  • Observation  Note peoples dress, body language,
    interaction, and behavior.  Be aware of
    differences. Try to understand the roots of
    behaviors.  Ask appropriate and thoughtful
    questions to expand cross difference knowledge.
  • Patience  Through patience, respect is won and
    cross-difference understanding is enhanced.
  • Flexibility The route to successful
    communication is adaptability and
    open-mindedness.  Understand and address
    differences to breaking barriers, resulting in
    better lines of communication, mutual trust, and
    creative thinking.

  • Communicating Across Differences
  • Cross-Cultural Communication
  • Cross-Generational Communication
  • Cross-Gender Communication
  • Effective Communication Strategies
  • Resources

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    arguments against changing sexist language. In C.
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    responses to male and female leaders
    Implications for leadership evaluations. Journal
    of Personality and Social Psychology, 58, 48-59.
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    M. E. (1994). Foundations of Organizational
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  • Gudykunst, W. B. (1998). Bridging differences
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