Cultural Values, Group Work, and Communication

Before studying in Canada, I never have the idea that cultural values can have such a huge impact on the teamwork setting/workplace. Although we all want to success, the belief and values that we have long-held are so distinctive that it takes certain time to pass the storming stage of group formation.

According to the textbook, the Global Leadership and Organizational Behaviour Effectiveness (Globe) identified “nine dimensions on which national cultures differ”(Langton, 82). The form has listed some examples of countries which demonstrate/ not demonstrate the cultural values. Generally, this form should not be surprising: European countries tend to be more future-orientated, more individualistic, and more humanely orientated; the United States value performance and quick decision(assertiveness); Asian countries, though different in several metrics, values contexts and preexisting backgrounds(gender, power…etc).

When people from different culture work together, better assume that there are differences between customs until further evidence emerges.

Given these information, how do we work with people from different cultural background better? As the textbook has stated, group cannot survive without communication, so communication should key to group functioning. Particularly, I have found the advices provided to be useful when reflecting on my multicultural teamwork experience:

  1. Emphasize description rather than interpretation or evaluation

Although this might mean stating facts rather than one’s own interpretation to others, it can actually mean to think less negatively when one encounters unfamiliar, ambiguous expressions. I used to be very sensitive to the feelings of others, and when people express confusion or some emotion that I was unable to identify, I would feel insecure and anxious. Now, having more experience working with people from different background, I understand that thinking too much is unnecessary and I should only focus on facts.

2. Practise Empathy

In Grade 11, I was the key volunteer of a specific festival, working with other three students in our school to recruit volunteers. When I posted the information that the volunteer hours can be used as CAS credit in the IB Facebook group, one teacher was so angry that he scolded me in the group with capital letters. He mentioned that it was a wrong information and that I should have obtain his verification before posting this. I was extremely depressed at first, for I have never been publicly criticized in a group. Nevertheless, I thought that he might have been in trouble for similar issues so he was afraid that same things would happen again. I emphasized both myself and him: I did not intend to spread wrong information, and he did not intend to hurt my feelings.

Work Cited:

Langton, Organizational Behaviour, 4th edition, p. 82-83.

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