Tag

Intercultural intelligence

Browsing

© Article translated from the book “Negoziazione interculturale. Comunicazione oltre le barriere culturali” (Intercultural Negotiation: Communication Beyond Cultural Barriers) copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available. If you are interested in publishing the book in English, or any other language, or seek Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching, Mentoring and Consulting, please feel free to contact the Website on Intercultural Negotiation  

A three-level Listening Model: Listening to Data, Listening to Emotions, Listening to Beliefs.   

Listening to people we don’t really like is one of the professional challenges we face they have to learn in many professions, such as lawyer, doctor, trainer, psychologist, but also manager and leader. It is neither mandatory nor possible to always have the ideal people in front of us. Learn to also listening to people who do not please us is something that must be learned, even if we want to limit the time and space of this contact.  

Empathy, or the art and science of understanding the moods of others, is not something that is due. Theresympathy, or the liking of others, is not something due. Instead, we may experience the “need” to interact and listen to people who do not please us, and in this the advanced active listening mechanisms become a professional resource fundamental, and a life resource. Empathy, in psychology, includes identification with moods of another person, i.e. the ability to understand their thoughts and, above all, their emotions. It differs from sympathy for intention in wanting to understand the feelings experienced from another individual, not through a rational explanation, but through a sharing affective. In psychotherapy, the term refers to the therapist’s ability to think and feel himself in the inner life of the patient, to understand him in a deeper way 1. In a different way from what has already been explained, we can distinguish different levels of listening:  

1. The non-listening, the unwillingness to listen, due to a precise decision (“I don’t want that to listen to him “) or the inability for reasons of our tiredness (” I was so tiredthat I could not hear “).  

2. Listening in conditions of mutual appreciation, or sympathetic listening.  

3. A listening aimed at understanding the person in depth, and above all the emotional states of her, o empathic listening.  

4. Listening apathetic, passive, or even distorted, in cases where there is no listening but the person to listen to is unwelcome to the skin or for ideological and cultural reasons.  

  
Those who travel without meeting the other do not travel, they move.  

(Alexandra David-Néel)  

Human communication is an existential state, where people take action to try to step out of one’s sphere of limited energies and experiences and connect with other entities human.  

There are as many worlds as there are living people, for which to relate and practice listening it requires a great deal of humility and commitment. The positive message is that science, and a scientific approach, can help us a great deal in understanding the reasons for communication failures and the ingredients for increase the likelihood of communication successes. We are in a world where it is possible to create exceptional, epochal projects, and if we can do it converge our best energies, every advance in the future of humanity and the planet will be possible.  

Our “spheres”, who we are, how we think, how we are made, what and how we live, are living, plastic elements. Listening is very similar to “going to see” what is inside a sphere of others, and how  

this evolves. Listening can also do you good. There is a contagious aspect of affective conditions. Self we learn to listen with greater emotional closeness, we will probably become people best. And every better person infects the others around him, positively. The same happens in the negative when we meet people with weak and sick energies. Meet these too people, it’s a professional challenge.  

As Wallon 2 points out, “Kohler has noticed that a chimpanzee’s joyous excitement does it spread with the same gestures to all the other chimpanzees. The fear of a single ram changes in panic for the whole flock. The cry of a bird is reflected in a rising wave in the aviary”.  

We are in a human aviary, in a human herd of billions of elements housed on the surface of a small blue ball called Earth, scattered in space. For this reason, when we make an intervention aimed at improving listening in a single person, up to a company group or manager, we know that we are bringing humanity, competence and happiness to the system to the entire company and even to those who interact with it, from suppliers to customers. And having happy customers, or happy families, today, is a very serious desire and goal.  

There are many things in life that catch the eye, but only a few catch yours heart: follow those.  

(Winston Churchill)  

Listening can be examined with different zoom levels.  

As with a zoom we can first notice a forest, then zoom in on a single plant and notice the large number of leaves, then focus on a single leaf and notice the veins there flow, insects walking on it, and so on. The same is true in listening. We can examine it as a general phenomenon, see it from above, or enter with different degrees of detail. The degree of detail depends on how many variables we want to use to “examine” the listening and the communicative flow. Listening to multiple tracks requires commitment, requires listening quality, but we must be convinced that this commitment to listening will be rewarded by a quality of absolutely greater understanding.  

Quality is like a wave. That quality work that you thought no one would notice he is noticed, and whoever sees him feels a little better: he will probably transfer in the others this feeling of his and in this way the Quality will continue to spread.  

(Robert M. Pirsig)  

In the next step we will see a fairly simple model, with three main variables, listening to data, listening to emotions, listening to beliefs.  

Listening in depth enters into more subtle themes than mere words. Knowing how to repeat a memory what has been heard is not an indication of true listening, but of pure memorization. A good coach, a good counselor, a good psychotherapist, a good leader, while they listen, they are actually listening to multiple tracks at the same time. Example, listen to the vocal stress that accompanies the words. The degree of vocal stress, the clear voice or the broken and shaky voice, are a fundamental indicator of the speaker’s state of mind. They could therefore say: “as you speak, while I listen to you, I notice that there is some fear in you, would you like to tell me about it? ”   

By listening to the flow of communication that emerges in the speech, we can focus on both words (the people mentioned, verbs, adjectives, each verbal element), on the tonality facial expression, which gives us information on which emotional states the person associates with various stages of his spoken, and on more general elements, unspoken background elements, which we call “beliefs” or “Beliefs” and emerge as implicit rules that the person is using in her reasoning. Eg:  

Words Emotions associated Unexpressed or latent active beliefs 
Self-Esteem I want to work in a place where things 
My father  Anger, discomfort, expectation  My father doesn’t realize when he will miss he will leave me alone with all existing problems if we don’t something  
Course  Wait, anticipation, hope  More than a course, it must be a moment strong alignment, on values, e especially about how you work in the Direction, avoiding that everyone goes to the his way and have a different view of the our future  
Passage generational  Difficulty, hope  Whether you like it or not, time goes by and I have to be ready to take the relay first or then she’ll be up to me  
Agree or less  Repressed Anger  Managers are mercenaries, not them interested in this, indeed the less power I have e the better for them  
CEO  Distance, disgust  The less you know what it does, the more free it can be to do what they like, if we align, a little less  
Direttore 
Finanziario 
Distanza, disgusto  Meno si sa cosa fa, e più può essere libero 
di fare quello che gli pare, se ci allineiamo, 
un pò meno  
Other managers  Distance, disgust  There is a risk of forming a “tribe” that takes control of the company and this it doesn’t have to happen  
Respond to me Pride  The company’s command must pass through one generation to the next  
Love Company expectation, anxiety  We are a company, a group, a team, no matter what you call it, we have to work as a team  
Functioning well Desire  Everyone must be clear about who we are and what we want, we must be aligned  

So in every message, there are objects – words, people, things, object relations (thing I try towards that object) – and belief systems, often unspoken, that feed the background. From this we can derive both: 1. a summary of the data 2. a synthesis of emotional backgrounds (general) and emotional details (particular) 3. a synthesis of the belief systems (Belief System) that operate in the person. Those who are able to make a truly empathic listening will be able to rephrase both i data, that the emotions he has grasped, that the underlying beliefs. An extremely technical work, ed extremely powerful. And if you need to take notes to help yourself on the “data”, just ask for the permission, and if still needed, have the speaker repeat some passages that we want to deepen, even better. Nobody gets tired of talking when they feel that we are listening with all of ourselves, and what he says we really care.  

For further information see: 

© Article translated from the book “Ascolto attivo ed empatia. I segreti di una comunicazione efficace“. copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available. If you are interested in publishing the book in English, or any other language, or seek Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching, Mentoring and Consulting, please feel free to contact the Website on Intercultural Negotiation.

A three-level Listening Model: Listening to Data, Listening to Emotions, Listening to Beliefs.   

Listening to people we don’t really like is one of the professional challenges we face they have to learn in many professions, such as lawyer, doctor, trainer, psychologist, but also manager and leader. It is neither mandatory nor possible to always have the ideal people in front of us. Learn to also listening to people who do not please us is something that must be learned, even if we want to limit the time and space of this contact.  

Empathy, or the art and science of understanding the moods of others, is not something that is due. Theresympathy, or the liking of others, is not something due. Instead, we may experience the “need” to interact and listen to people who do not please us, and in this the advanced active listening mechanisms become a professional resource fundamental, and a life resource. Empathy, in psychology, includes identification with moods of another person, i.e. the ability to understand their thoughts and, above all, their emotions. It differs from sympathy for intention in wanting to understand the feelings experienced from another individual, not through a rational explanation, but through a sharing affective. In psychotherapy, the term refers to the therapist’s ability to think and feel himself in the inner life of the patient, to understand him in a deeper way 1. In a different way from what has already been explained, we can distinguish different levels of listening:  

1. The non-listening, the unwillingness to listen, due to a precise decision (“I don’t want that to listen to him “) or the inability for reasons of our tiredness (” I was so tiredthat I could not hear “).  

2. Listening in conditions of mutual appreciation, or sympathetic listening.  

3. A listening aimed at understanding the person in depth, and above all the emotional states of her, o empathic listening.  

4. Listening apathetic, passive, or even distorted, in cases where there is no listening but the person to listen to is unwelcome to the skin or for ideological and cultural reasons.  

  
Those who travel without meeting the other do not travel, they move.  

(Alexandra David-Néel)  

Human communication is an existential state, where people take action to try to step out of one’s sphere of limited energies and experiences and connect with other entities human.  

There are as many worlds as there are living people, for which to relate and practice listening it requires a great deal of humility and commitment. The positive message is that science, and a scientific approach, can help us a great deal in understanding the reasons for communication failures and the ingredients for increase the likelihood of communication successes. We are in a world where it is possible to create exceptional, epochal projects, and if we can do it converge our best energies, every advance in the future of humanity and the planet will be possible.  

Our “spheres”, who we are, how we think, how we are made, what and how we live, are living, plastic elements. Listening is very similar to “going to see” what is inside a sphere of others, and how  

this evolves. Listening can also do you good. There is a contagious aspect of affective conditions. Self we learn to listen with greater emotional closeness, we will probably become people best. And every better person infects the others around him, positively. The same happens in the negative when we meet people with weak and sick energies. Meet these too people, it’s a professional challenge.  

As Wallon 2 points out, “Kohler has noticed that a chimpanzee’s joyous excitement does it spread with the same gestures to all the other chimpanzees. The fear of a single ram changes in panic for the whole flock. The cry of a bird is reflected in a rising wave in the aviary”.  

We are in a human aviary, in a human herd of billions of elements housed on the surface of a small blue ball called Earth, scattered in space. For this reason, when we make an intervention aimed at improving listening in a single person, up to a company group or manager, we know that we are bringing humanity, competence and happiness to the system to the entire company and even to those who interact with it, from suppliers to customers. And having happy customers, or happy families, today, is a very serious desire and goal.  

There are many things in life that catch the eye, but only a few catch yours heart: follow those.  

(Winston Churchill)  

Listening can be examined with different zoom levels.  

As with a zoom we can first notice a forest, then zoom in on a single plant and notice the large number of leaves, then focus on a single leaf and notice the veins there flow, insects walking on it, and so on. The same is true in listening. We can examine it as a general phenomenon, see it from above, or enter with different degrees of detail. The degree of detail depends on how many variables we want to use to “examine” the listening and the communicative flow. Listening to multiple tracks requires commitment, requires listening quality, but we must be convinced that this commitment to listening will be rewarded by a quality of absolutely greater understanding.  

Quality is like a wave. That quality work that you thought no one would notice he is noticed, and whoever sees him feels a little better: he will probably transfer in the others this feeling of his and in this way the Quality will continue to spread.  

(Robert M. Pirsig)  

In the next step we will see a fairly simple model, with three main variables, listening to data, listening to emotions, listening to beliefs.  

Listening in depth enters into more subtle themes than mere words. Knowing how to repeat a memory what has been heard is not an indication of true listening, but of pure memorization. A good coach, a good counselor, a good psychotherapist, a good leader, while they listen, they are actually listening to multiple tracks at the same time. Example, listen to the vocal stress that accompanies the words. The degree of vocal stress, the clear voice or the broken and shaky voice, are a fundamental indicator of the speaker’s state of mind. They could therefore say: “as you speak, while I listen to you, I notice that there is some fear in you, would you like to tell me about it? ”   

By listening to the flow of communication that emerges in the speech, we can focus on both words (the people mentioned, verbs, adjectives, each verbal element), on the tonality facial expression, which gives us information on which emotional states the person associates with various stages of his spoken, and on more general elements, unspoken background elements, which we call “beliefs” or “Beliefs” and emerge as implicit rules that the person is using in her reasoning. Eg:  

Words Emotions associated Unexpressed or latent active beliefs 
Self-Esteem I want to work in a place where things 
My father  Anger, discomfort, expectation  My father doesn’t realize when he will miss he will leave me alone with all existing problems if we don’t something  
Course  Wait, anticipation, hope  More than a course, it must be a moment strong alignment, on values, e especially about how you work in the Direction, avoiding that everyone goes to the his way and have a different view of the our future  
Passage generational  Difficulty, hope  Whether you like it or not, time goes by and I have to be ready to take the relay first or then she’ll be up to me  
Agree or less  Repressed Anger  Managers are mercenaries, not them interested in this, indeed the less power I have e the better for them  
CEO  Distance, disgust  The less you know what it does, the more free it can be to do what they like, if we align, a little less  
Direttore 
Finanziario 
Distanza, disgusto  Meno si sa cosa fa, e più può essere libero 
di fare quello che gli pare, se ci allineiamo, 
un pò meno  
Other managers  Distance, disgust  There is a risk of forming a “tribe” that takes control of the company and this it doesn’t have to happen  
Respond to me Pride  The company’s command must pass through one generation to the next  
Love Company expectation, anxiety  We are a company, a group, a team, no matter what you call it, we have to work as a team  
Functioning well Desire  Everyone must be clear about who we are and what we want, we must be aligned  

So in every message, there are objects – words, people, things, object relations (thing I try towards that object) – and belief systems, often unspoken, that feed the background. From this we can derive both: 1. a summary of the data 2. a synthesis of emotional backgrounds (general) and emotional details (particular) 3. a synthesis of the belief systems (Belief System) that operate in the person. Those who are able to make a truly empathic listening will be able to rephrase both i data, that the emotions he has grasped, that the underlying beliefs. An extremely technical work, ed extremely powerful. And if you need to take notes to help yourself on the “data”, just ask for the permission, and if still needed, have the speaker repeat some passages that we want to deepen, even better. Nobody gets tired of talking when they feel that we are listening with all of ourselves, and what he says we really care.  

For further information see: 

© Article translated from the book “Negoziazione interculturale. Comunicazione oltre le barriere culturali” (Intercultural Negotiation: Communication Beyond Cultural Barriers) copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available. If you are interested in publishing the book in English, or any other language, or seek Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching, Mentoring and Consulting, please feel free to contact the Website on Intercultural Negotiation

Trend and Progression of Interpersonal and Corporate Relationships in the 2V Model

Interference in communication due to code and language occurs when communicators do not have an adequately shared code, and misunderstandings occur.Wrong decodings are possible especially on ambiguous words and statements, such as “collaborate”, “implement”, “relate”, “share a goal”.

A further outcome of the different code / language is evident in the lack of clarity and precision, where one or more of the participants in the conversation use bureaucratic repertoires and / or imprecise languages.

Recognition exercise of “crawling” objectives

Create a company meeting through role-playing, in which subject 1 (who plays the role of the personnel manager) asks the sales manager (subject 2) to better “relate” to their Eastern European area manager to evaluate his performance.Subject 1 will use linguistic nuances such as “collaborate”, “implement”, “relate”, “share a goal”. In reality 1 has a precise motivational core (firing the area manager), a creeping goal, which remains in the background.Evaluate the results of the meeting between subject 1 and subject 2.

Interferences of communication due to worldview and ideology take place when communicators have different worldviews and ideologies, but this diversity acts in a latent way and without the knowledge of communicators.

The 2v model can be used to view the progress of a relationship and its degree of incommunicability.Given a distance between subjects at time 1 (t1), we can evaluate how this distance increases or decreases in terms of vision of the mode and communication code (t2) and measure the situation again at other moments of time (t3), (t4) .

We can thus reconstruct the trajectories of relationships and visualize the trends in relationships.

Hypothesis of progress of an intercultural relationship

The case shown highlights a relationship distinguished by the following times:

  • T1: the relationship starts with an average sharing of code and vision of the world;
  • T2: after an initial confrontation, the two subjects begin to reduce the linguistic communication distances, the distance due to the misunderstanding of the terms and the poorly shared vocabulary decreases, several previously incomprehensible terms are explained. However, this generates a chance to understand worldviews better than before. It turns out, therefore, that the underlying ideologies and values ​​are more different than previously thought, and therefore the distance on the ideological-value variable increases;
  • T3: After a closer confrontation on the basic values, new areas of commonality and common interests are discovered, even the common language becomes richer and more articulated in shared terms and concepts.

This curve represents a simple hypothesis, one of the many possibilities that exist in the world of relationships. In fact, it is also possible that distances and distances will increase, and ever stronger conflicts arise.

Intercultural Negotiation Arab Edition

© Article translated from the book “Negoziazione interculturale, comunicazione oltre le barriere culturali” (Intercultural Negotiation: Communication Beyond Cultural Barriers) copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available for any Publisher wishing to consider it for publication in English and other languages except for Italian and Arab whose rights are already sold and published. If you are interested in publishing the book in English, or in Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching and Consulting, please feel free to contact the author from the webstite www.danieletrevisani.com 

For further information see:

© Article translated from the book “Negoziazione interculturale. Comunicazione oltre le barriere culturali” (Intercultural Negotiation: Communication Beyond Cultural Barriers) copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available. If you are interested in publishing the book in English, or any other language, or seek Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching, Mentoring and Consulting, please feel free to contact the Website on Intercultural Negotiation

Intercultural Levels and the Limits of Communication

The accuracy of the information exchange can be improved by reducing the distance along the “code” dimension, which is equivalent to reducing the linguistic distance. In some cases this means learning a foreign language, a dialect or subdialect within a nation, but also learning a professional language, a non-verbal code that characterizes other cultures, proxemic gestures and modalities, cadences and paralinguistic aspects of communication.

The agreement can be improved by decreasing the degree of difference between communicators in values, myths, beliefs, attitudes and ideologies – differences that can have negative consequences in the communication process. Furthermore, as the two are highly interrelated, an increase in code understanding will increase the ability of worldview understanding, and vice versa.

The 2V model can be a useful tool for analyzing hypothetical types of communications. However, the code and worldview dimensions should not always be considered completely different or completely the same, as they vary along a continuum of differences / similarities. Intercultural levels depend on the quantity and quality of difference in the world view and in the communicative code.

On this scale of communication differences, we believe that the ends of the two continuums (the COMSITS presented) represent only hypothetical points and that no real communication event can ever be located in one of the four “pure” COMSITS. In a visual way, this concept of “gradualness” in the differences can be represented by erasing the separations between the 4 quadrants and instead inserting a rating scale.

A further relevant reflection consists in evaluating whether all the points in the table could be realistically represented by a possible communication event.

Indeed, we believe that no real communication event can be located exactly on the edges (the perimeter of the table).

The underlying hypothesis depends on four axioms of communication that we formulate below:

  • COMCOND 1) impossibility of having a completely identical communication code between two individuals;
  • COMCOND 2) impossibility of having a completely equal worldview between two individuals;
  • COMCOND 3) impossibility of having a completely different communication code between two individuals;
  • COMCOND 4) impossibility of having a completely different world view between two individuals.

Some research perspectives on communication support these hypotheses.The genetic codes that govern the biological foundations of non-verbal and paralinguistic communication are similar for every human being.Human beings, like primates, always share a certain degree of similarity and are able to encode and decode signs and signals in some circumstances (eg: physical aggression) without differences between cultures.

In general, the ability to interpret human behavior increases in situations in which cultural codes are less relevant and biological codes take over, such as situations involving survival (aggression) and other more instinctive behaviors (such as eating or sex) .

Furthermore, the research results of Eckman and Friesen (1987) revealed a high level of agreement between cultures in their interpretation of facial expressions of emotions.Saral (1972) also highlighted the transversal and cross-cultural nature of facial communication and expressions.A decrease in the relevance of the cultural code and an increase in the relevance of the instinctive code can also be observed in human-animal communication and in general in communication between species, particularly in conditions of danger.

In other words, people of different cultures or creatures belonging to different species have the ability to perceive the aggressive or non-verbal friendly behavior of a member of another culture or species, while more cultural behaviors will be less interpretable. Biological constraints also have an influence on the impossibility of having a complete difference in the world view (COMCOND 4).

Every human being shares at a basic and instinctual level the tendency to reproduce the species, the attempt not to die of hunger or cold, the protection of children, and in general the behavior of biologically evolved living beings.The evolution towards self-realization is then one of the states that most characterizes every human being, as Carl Rogers points out, and cultures and religions only establish different modalities or “variations on the theme” of this underlying tendency towards self-realization.

The pursuit of self-destruction, the deliberate pursuit of hunger and suffering for oneself and one’s children, the pursuit of non-self-realization (whatever that means for a person) are extremely anomalous and deviant characteristics of the child’s behavior. ‘human being.

Statistically these cases represent outliers, that is cases extremely out of the norm.What we have in common biologically as human beings is vastly superior to what divides us culturally. Empathy techniques (learning to understand the world view of others) and greater attention to the optimization of communication codes can make an enormous contribution to the development of intercultural communication.

The improvement of intercultural communication, in turn, generates an enormous impulse to the realization of common development projects between states, cultures and countries – projects that do not have geographical barriers and borders, but unite people towards a common tendency to personal, social self-realization. and economical.

Human behavior is determined by two types of forces: from cultural conditioning (ontogenetic, learned during growth) and from hereditary biological conditioning (phylogenetic, received from DNA), and ontogenetic (cultural) learning is always grafted onto a phylogenetic basis, which constitutes our common heritage, and no culture will ever be able to scratch, but at the most it will be able to cover, to make people forget.

At the same time, the impossibility of a completely equal code derives from the great depth and semantic variety of signs (the semantic field is the extension and range of possible meanings of a sign).The meaning attributed to the signs is not a stable or “given” element, but is the result of a symbolic agreement between individuals, that is, it is the product of socializationand interpersonal and intergroup agreements, but socialization varies continuously over time, space, and between individual and individual, group and group, and therefore the meanings of the signs also continuously vary.

The signs, and the codes, are alive, and they change. Each dyad of individuals, each group, creates its own communication code over time, attributing particular meanings to the signs used.

This happens, and often unconsciously, within companies. The error determines how much it is taken for granted that the interlocutor of the counterparty company has a shared code. This problem requires a great work of metacommunication, that communicative activity that serves to explain the meaning attributed to the signs emitted and verify the accuracy of the meaning perceived in the signs received.

As with the code, no individual, no organized group, possesses exactly the same range of values, behaviors, attitudes, worldviews, beliefs, ideological positions, over the whole range of objects and situations that become objects of communication. Recognizing diversity is the first useful tool to be able to face it.

Intercultural Negotiation Arab Edition

© Article translated from the book “Negoziazione interculturale, comunicazione oltre le barriere culturali” (Intercultural Negotiation: Communication Beyond Cultural Barriers) copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available for any Publisher wishing to consider it for publication in English and other languages except for Italian and Arab whose rights are already sold and published. If you are interested in publishing the book in English, or in Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching and Consulting, please feel free to contact the author from the webstite www.danieletrevisani.com 

For further information see:

© Article translated from the book “Negoziazione interculturale. Comunicazione oltre le barriere culturali” (Intercultural Negotiation: Communication Beyond Cultural Barriers) copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available. If you are interested in publishing the book in English, or any other language, or seek Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching, Mentoring and Consulting, please feel free to contact the Website on Intercultural Negotiation

Characteristics of Communication Situations

By combining the two cultural variables (1) code and (2) worldview, in a matrix, we can identify four hypothetical communication situations (COMSITS). Fig. 15 – T2V matrix

SimilarCOMSIT BCOMSIT A
DifferentCOMSIT DCOMSIT C
///////////DifferentSimilar

In this matrix we can trace a large part of the communicative interactions.

6.4.5. COMSIT A: characteristics

COMSIT A is defined as “same communication code – same worldview”. The communication process is easy and without problems, since we have precision in the exchange of information and agreement on the objectives. In COMSIT A, the lack of differences in the communication code generates a high degree of accuracy and efficiency in the exchange of information, without misinterpretations, misunderstandings, misunderstandings, semantic confusions and the need for translation. At the same time, the completely equal vision of the world among communicators – the concordance of underlying orientations and values, produces convergence of goals and vision. This circumstance is, however, only hypothetical, as the differences in communication code occur to varying degrees in every human process of communication.

Conflict exercise based on the discovery of the different “view of things” Analyze in pairs at least two situations of conflict, divergence or misunderstanding with people from your family or business, from the present or from the past. In particular, analyze:

  • the theme of the conflict (what the conflict was about, what produced it);
  • our “world view” on the subject;
  • the vision of others on the subject;
  • when, how and where did a different vision of things appear;
  • what results were produced and in what times;
  • what is the status of the relationship today.

6.4.6. COMSIT B: characteristics

COMSIT B (completely different code – same world view) represents the case in which the obstacle to communication is the lack of a common communication code (common language). The problem is therefore solely linguistic, people are unable to dialogue because they lack a shared communication system. If a common code could be provided or learned, the situation would turn into ideal COMSIT A.

Exercise of alteration of communication codes

Two couples of friends / colleagues meet to decide on a holiday to be carried out in a group of four. Before the meeting, the two couples, separately, must invent five new words (to be chosen from nouns of thing, verbs, adjectives), for example, an offensive word, a word of appreciation, a word to express a discomfort, a verb to inquire, and other inventions of the group. Make the meeting happen and check how the new words interfere in understanding, and other ongoing communication dynamics.

6.4.7. COMSIT C: characteristics

COMSIT C (same code – completely different world view) represents the hypothetical case in which communication difficulties result from a lack of sharing in the world view. The elements of diversity may concern:

  • opinions;
  • attitudes;
  • beliefs;
  • values.

In COMSIT C, a common code allows the exchange of information, but the outcome of communication is initially negative, as completely different beliefs, different values, diversity in underlying attitudes, attitudes and goals, will result in a complete lack of agreement. . The outcome of the communication is therefore bankruptcy, unless one of the two parties, or both, are willing to review some positions.

Conflict exercise between different personal positions

Create a group of people, even a minimum (2 per group, but in the absence it can also be achieved by 2 individuals) who are looking for all the advantages of taking short holidays but several times a year. The group must produce a list of at least 10 (or more) arguments in favor. It will also have to produce a list of at least 10 or more arguments against taking longer vacations at one time. An opposing group will do the opposite work, looking for the arguments in favor of taking long vacations, once a year, and the arguments or disadvantages and risks of taking more broken holidays. The representatives of the 2 groups meet and have to support their positions.

Conflict exercise between different company positions on the conception of times

Create a group of people, even a minimum (2 per group, but in the absence it is also achievable by 2 individuals) who are looking for all the advantages of making fast, rapid business projects (the “rabbits”) The group must produce a list of at least 10 (or more) arguments in favor. It will also have to produce a list of at least 10 or more arguments against making projects that are too thoughtful and too long in scope. An opposite group (the “bears”) will do the opposite work by looking for the arguments in favor of long-term projects, very reasoned and thought out, and the arguments or disadvantages and risks of fast projects. The representatives of the 2 groups meet and have to support their positions.

Conflict exercise: “buy merchandise” versus “buy partnerships”

Create a group of people, even a minimum (2 per group, but failing that it can also be created by 2 individuals) who represent a manufacturing company (office furniture production) interested in buying training hours for its sellers (eg: 5 group hours, for a group of 8 people). The mini-course program is the one found on the internet, relating to a basic sales course. The intentions are to test the effectiveness of trainers and spend little (for now), distract their salespeople from their work a little, and perhaps evaluate other interventions in the future. An opposing group will play the role of the training company, extremely convinced that a training project previously requires a good diagnosis, individual interviews with future participants, and that the hours cannot be fixed if the diagnosis has not been carried out.

At the same time, the training company does not want to commit to the fact that it is already foreseeable that a course is the best solution (for example, it wants to be free to decide on solutions such as coaching in the field, and other methods of professional intervention it considers effective). The representatives of the 2 groups meet and have to support their positions.

COMSIT D: features

COMSIT D (completely different code – completely different world view) is the hypothetical situation in which communication is disturbed for two reasons: from a technical point of view, the lack of common code does not allow the exchange of information, and even if a common code could be provided, a completely different view of the world would lead to the situation previously identified as COMSIT C, characterized by a lack of agreement. COMSIT D therefore represents the most difficult circumstance when the communication aims at the exactness of the data exchange and the search for an agreement between different positions. Similar communication contexts were considered Barnett and Kincaid (1983), who considered the combination of two variables: mutual understanding and agreement. Summarizing, according to the T2V model, the result of communication, understood as communicative efficiency in the exchange of information, and effectiveness in reaching an agreement, is negatively correlated with the differences in the code used and the differences in the world view. On the other hand, as the similarity of communication codes and worldview increases, the probability of success increases.

Intercultural Negotiation Arab Edition

© Article translated from the book “Negoziazione interculturale, comunicazione oltre le barriere culturali” (Intercultural Negotiation: Communication Beyond Cultural Barriers) copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available for any Publisher wishing to consider it for publication in English and other languages except for Italian and Arab whose rights are already sold and published. If you are interested in publishing the book in English, or in Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching and Consulting, please feel free to contact the author from the webstite www.danieletrevisani.com 

For further information see:

© Article translated from the book “Negoziazione interculturale, comunicazione oltre le barriere culturali” (Intercultural Negotiation: Communication Beyond Cultural Barriers) copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Consulting Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available for qualified Publishers wishing to consider it for publication in English and other languages except for Italian and Arab. If you are interested in publishing or Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching and Consulting, please feel free to contact the author from the webstite www.danieletrevisani.com 

Other Important Dimensions to Consider in the World View for the ALM Method are:

• culture of personal times and temporal priorities: include the search for emotions (intangible goals) or tangible goals among the priorities; temporal experience and temporal dominances, awareness of the differences between personal culture (of the individual), organizational culture and national culture: how I live time, how my company lives it, how my national culture lives it – in haste either in relaxation, in planning or in chaos. In this context, one of the main objectives of the ALM method is the re-appropriation of the sense of pleasure of time, eliminating the forced conditioning produced by the cognitive prototypes of one’s own culture (self-determination of time);

  • religious beliefs, both in the difference between religions, but above all in the degree of overt or latent religiosity that the individual experiences and applies in daily and working life;
  • political ideologies;
  • the conception of the human being and the deep reason for existence;
  • the conception of interpersonal relationships (exploitation, utility, sharing, symbiosis, competition) and the versatility of interpersonal relationships (ability to live on multiple levels, characterized by different motivational systems);
  • the conception of the relationship between man and nature, the degree of spirituality vs. materialism;
  • internal orientation (self-exploration, exploration of the internal and psychological world, introspection) vs. orientation to the outside (exploration of the outside world);
  • the orientation to being vs. the orientation to having;
  • orientation towards positivity or negativity;
  • orientation to the past, present or future (and other specific quadrants identified in the proprietary T-chart model of the ALM method);
  • personal competitiveness and orientation towards competitiveness;
  • egocentrism, ethnocentrism, selfishness, centering on the self or on one’s own needs, vs. heterocentrism, altruism, also centering on the other and on the needs of others.

Comparison exercise of one’s own vision of the world on some personal elements (compare & contrast) Explain and compare (compare & contrast) your own world view with a colleague or exercise partner, search for differences and similarities, on the following topics:

  • meaning of love and difference from “loving”;
  • possible meanings of the term “betrayal” in a marriage;
  • debate between two different visions of life: “rejoice while you can, live for the day” or “sacrifice yourself for a better future, save, invest”;
  • the role of destiny on people’s success and career;
  • to what extent it is possible to predict behavior based on a person’s nationality, in which fields we can be more certain, in which less;
  • whether the people in the company perform better when you command or let them do it.
Intercultural Negotiation Arab Edition

© Article translated from the book “Negoziazione interculturale, comunicazione oltre le barriere culturali” (Intercultural Negotiation: Communication Beyond Cultural Barriers) copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available for any Publisher wishing to consider it for publication in English and other languages except for Italian and Arab whose rights are already sold and published. If you are interested in publishing the book in English, or in Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching and Consulting, please feel free to contact the author from the webstite www.danieletrevisani.com 

For further information see:

© Article translated from the book “Negoziazione interculturale, comunicazione oltre le barriere culturali” (Intercultural Negotiation: Communication Beyond Cultural Barriers) copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Consulting Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available for qualified Publishers wishing to consider it for publication in English and other languages except for Italian and Arab. If you are interested in publishing or Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching and Consulting, please feel free to contact the author from the webstite www.danieletrevisani.com 

Vision of Time, Long- vs. Short-Term Time Orientation

The measurement of cultural differences makes sense when it is done in comparative terms, and not in absolute terms. In the following table we show some comparisons between countries with respect to the four dimensions (some of the more extreme scores are highlighted in bold). To create the table, indicators (indices) were produced that measure certain behaviors and attitudes on the four variables:

  • power distance index (PDI).
  • individualism index (IDV)
  • masculinity index (MAS)
  • uncertainty avoidance index (UAI)

Tab. 9 – Scores of some countries with respect to the parameters of cultural difference (Hofstede), scale from 0 to 125

CountryPOWER DISTANCE (Low/High)INDIVIDUALISM COLLECTIVISMFEMININITY MASCULINITYUNCERTAINTY AVOIDANCE (Low/High)
Australia36906151
Canada39805248
Indonesia78144648
Portugal632731104
Norway3169850
Jamaica45396813
Greece603557112
Japan54469592
Sweden3171529
USA40916246
Venezuela81127376

The scores allow us to confirm some common stereotypes, such as the fact that Latin American countries are predominantly male-dominated cultures, Norway is very little, that the US is individualistic, or that the Japanese are a very structured society. Without getting tired of repeating it, these classifications speak in probabilistic terms, and nothing prevents you from finding Venezuelan companies headed by female managers, or collectivistically managed US companies, or extremely competitive and aggressive Norwegian managers, and other major deviations from cultural stereotypes.

Vision of time, Long- vs. Short-Term Time Orientation

Time Orientation distinguishes cultures based on the propensity to reason and plan in the long run, vs. an orientation “to the day”, and is related to dimensions such as spiritualism vs materialism, the religious concept of life, knowing how to live in meditative phases or only in active phases. Hofstede’s studies also distinguish between monochronic and multi-chronic time. Monochronic time has the following characteristics

  • the tendency to do one thing at a time – one after the other, in a linear way, a long-term orientation, dependence on agendas and calendars;
  • in monochronic time, precision is generally rewarded;
  • time is often scarce, we are often late. On the other hand, multicronic time is a multi-tasking, non-linear time, a short-term orientation, a life lived without an agenda and calendar, precision is something suspicious or at most irrelevant, the sense of time is cyclical (as in Hinduism ).

In the ALM method there is a tendency to distinguish the culture of the times by using in a disjoint way the evaluation of single psychological times (monochronic) or the condition of living in multiple psychological times (multicronicity), concentration on the task (monotasking) or application on several tasks (multitasking).

Intercultural Negotiation Arab Edition

© Article translated from the book “Negoziazione interculturale, comunicazione oltre le barriere culturali” (Intercultural Negotiation: Communication Beyond Cultural Barriers) copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available for any Publisher wishing to consider it for publication in English and other languages except for Italian and Arab whose rights are already sold and published. If you are interested in publishing the book in English, or in Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching and Consulting, please feel free to contact the author from the webstite www.danieletrevisani.com 

For further information see:

© Article translated from the book “Negoziazione interculturale, comunicazione oltre le barriere culturali” (Intercultural Negotiation: Communication Beyond Cultural Barriers) copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available for any Publisher wishing to consider it for publication in English and other languages except for Italian and Arab whose rights are already sold and published. If you are interested in publishing the book in English, or any other language, or seek Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching, Mentoring and Consulting, please feel free to contact the author from the webstite www.danieletrevisani.com 

Uncertainty Avoidance

This dimension has given rise to much controversy, because it is considered sexist and discriminatory. Hofstede’s will, on the other hand, was simply to analyze a gendered behavior as a cultural category, such as “caring” (taking care of children), deriving from the biological history of the female human race, vs. the prototypical male role in archaic societies linked to defense, competition, hunting and fighting.

By identifying phenomena related to gender, we can see nations such as Japan where there are strong expectations of roles, men are expected to differ from the behavior of women, an “in-charge” role. countries like Norway, or Sweden, the dimension is more feminized, which means that the roles between men and women are much more fluid and interchangeable in social organizations.

Tab. 7 – Differences between high masculinity and high femininity cultures

FemininityMasculinity
The roles between genres are interchangeableThe roles between the sexes are very distinct
Nutrition, careAssertiveness, aggression
Equality, solidarity, quality of life, quality of workCompetition, performance, success, money
Managers use intuition and seek consensusManagers are authoritarian and assertive
Humility and modesty are important in both sexesThe man must be tough, the woman tender
Conflict resolution occurs through compromise and negotiationConflict resolution occurs through disputes, fights and fighting (also figuratively)

The vision of the role of women is certainly a still strong variable that differentiates some cultures (where, for example, women are prevented from appearing in public with their faces uncovered) from others where a woman is encouraged to assume roles of visibility and responsibility on the social scale. As social roles become less distinct, the masculinity-femininity scale is increasingly independent of genetic sexuality, and becomes above all a “way of being”, an existential condition, a way of living and being, which can be adopted or modified without changing one’s sexual identity.

The avoidance of uncertainty, the tolerance of ambiguity. Distinguishes the need for clear rules, procedures, well-identified work responsibilities (high degree of avoidance of uncertainty), from the ability / condition to act in conditions of uncertain or imprecise rules, without well-identified responsibilities or in climates of organizational chaos , or in poorly structured environments (low degree of uncertainty avoidance). This variable is related to the “need for structuring” and the “tolerance for ambiguity” which varies greatly in cultures, or between social classes, and even between families, and therefore also between negotiators of different cultures.

Tab. 8 – Differences between cultures with high and low uncertainty avoidance

Acceptance of uncertaintyAvoidance of uncertainty
Uncertainty is a normal feature of lifeThe uncertainty present in life is a constant threat that must be fought
Low consciousness of time, fluid timeHigh awareness of time, programmed time
The day is accepted as it isThe day must be structured
People appear calm, relaxed, calm, sometimes sluggish or lazyPeople appear active, busy, emotional, aggressive
Low stress, well-beingHigh level of stress, subjective experience of anxiety
What is different is curiousWhat is different is dangerous
Ambiguous situations are experienced without problemsFear of what is unknown
Risk acceptanceFear of risk
The rules must be kept to a minimumStrong emotional need for detailed rules
What is new is sought and deviations from the norm are acceptedInnovation is resisted, new or deviant ideas encounter strong obstacles
If the rules are not followed, they must be changedIf the rules are not respected, guilt arises
The rules are few and genericThe rules are many and precise
Citizens can protestProtests must be suppressed
Tolerance and moderationConservation, extremism, law and discipline
Nobody can be blamed for their ideologies and ideas. ToleranceDifferent ideas (religious, political, social) are pursued. Fundamentalism and intolerance
Students feel comfortable in open-ended learning situationsStudents feel comfortable in structured learning situations, they look for the “right answer”

As can also be seen from the last difference (high or low structuring of a training or school intervention), interculturality can also occur in the same country, between a trainer who uses experiential and active techniques, in the face of a traditionalist culture and structured mindset. Or again, in the didactic and training situations carried out between different countries and cultures. Interculturality also opens the way to the existence of other “ways of being”, of new ways of living life, and can be very therapeutic.

The real problem of cultural psychology is to recognize how much cultural absorption has affected one’s personality, and to regain possession of a different way of being, be it less “anxious” or “more dynamic”, with the awareness that it is not possible to “have everything ”, Be busy and relaxed at the same time. Intercultural communication, seen in the ALM method, poses the challenge of “internal multi-existentiality” – the new ability to live in different states of the personality by absorbing the best of different cultures – eg: knowing how to be lively and dynamic in certain moments, relaxed in others, and includes the ability to avoid existential and cultural drag, eg: living a vacation with anxiety and over-planning stress, or on the contrary not knowing how to live in a system that requires deadlines and planning, when necessary.

It can be said that the intercultural dimension opens the doors to new frontiers of the human being, who (at least in Western societies) for the first time in history can choose to adhere to a culture or not, can change their way of being and of to live.

Intercultural Negotiation Arab Edition

© Article translated from the book “Negoziazione interculturale, comunicazione oltre le barriere culturali” (Intercultural Negotiation: Communication Beyond Cultural Barriers) copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available for any Publisher wishing to consider it for publication in English and other languages except for Italian and Arab whose rights are already sold and published. If you are interested in publishing the book in English, or any other language, or seek Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching, Mentoring and Consulting, please feel free to contact the author from the webstite www.danieletrevisani.com 

For further information see:

© Article translated from the book “Negoziazione interculturale, comunicazione oltre le barriere culturali” (Intercultural Negotiation: Communication Beyond Cultural Barriers) copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available for any Publisher wishing to consider it for publication in English and other languages except for Italian and Arab whose rights are already sold and published. If you are interested in publishing the book in English, or any other language, or seek Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching, Mentoring and Consulting, please feel free to contact the author from the webstite www.danieletrevisani.com 

Classifying Cultural Differences (Hofstede Categories)

A second component of culture considered in the 2V model is “World-View” – the “world view” The worldview is considered in anthropological studies as a set of beliefs, values ​​and attitudes, used by social actors to interpret and categorize reality, giving meaning to events, establishing relationships between them and guiding behavior.

The worldview is such a personal concept that it is difficult to classify in rigid schemes, however the need (or attempts) to provide classifications have led some social scientists to produce categories through which to read cultures. Among these, we expose the Hofstede classification, one of the most used in the literature.

Among the classics of intercultural communication, Hofstede’s categories are often cited as parameters for differentiating and categorizing cultures. Hofstede’s categories can be an interesting starting point for starting a reflection on cultural differences. However, the risk of generalization is high, and it is undesirable to use them for automatic predictive purposes. It would be extremely wrong to conclude that – because a person has a certain passport or a certain nationality – his mere belonging to a country allows us to predict with certainty how he will behave.

It seems more useful to think about how these categories can help us understand who we are dealing with when we negotiate, based on the concrete behaviors we observe, and without letting ourselves be clouded by automatic judgment. We therefore suggest using categories above all as tools to analyze the organizational cultures with which one comes into contact.

Individualism-Collectivism

Individualistic cultures characterize systems in which the bonds between individuals are weak, vary over time, and each has to look after himself substantially, or at most his close family. Individual freedoms are high, and social security substantially low, the possibility of social ascent and career high, as well as the risk of failing and falling without nets and protections. Collectivist cultures, on the other hand, incorporate the individual into the group in a very cohesive way, offering him protection in exchange for loyalty and fidelity, giving security but at the same time limiting freedom of expression and deviations from the norm.

The individual is very controlled. This dimension is typically used to distinguish how some cultures manage work and social practices, distinguishing between individualistic cultures such as Canada, US, Australia, and Great Britain, from other cultures considered collectivistic, such as those of East Asia (Japan, Korea South, Hong Kong, and Singapore) and Latin America.

Tab. 6 – Differences between cultures with high individualism and high collectivism

IndividualismCollectivism
Identity is based on the individualIdentity comes from belonging to social groups or families
We move in the first person, without waiting for help. The strategy is determined by the individualHelp is expected from the community; greater passivity. The strategy is expected from others
High degree of autonomy. Autonomy is rewardedLittle autonomy. Autonomy is punished
The value comes from the results produced by the individual himselfThe value is inherited or absorbed based on the group to which you belong
Employment relationships are seen as contracts based on mutual benefitWork relationships are seen as moral functions, like family relationships
The task or goal takes precedence over the relationshipRelationships come before tasks or goals
The recruitment comes as a result of selections based on skillsHiring depends on recommendations, on connections
Career depends on the results producedCareer depends on internal and external affiliations
Speaking openly and asking for an open confrontation indicates honestyHarmony must be maintained at any cost and confrontation and confrontation must be avoided
Communications are directCommunications are “veiled”
Failure to comply with the rules produces a sense of guilt and a loss of self-esteemFailure to comply with the rules produces public shame and loss of social face
Management is the management of individualsManagement is group management

As we argue throughout the course of this publication, the advanced intercultural negotiator should never assume that a counterpart is individualistic or collectivist (or otherwise characterized) just because it is classified in terms of nationality and stereotypes. Even within Western countries and industrialized areas (mainly individualistic) we can find “bubbles” of collectivism, in rural areas but also in corporate areas (partly for example in industrial districts) where the facade is individualistic but the heart and habits are essentially collectivist.

The mental practice of collectivism as “living and doing together”, hit hard by the crisis of the former Soviet Union, becomes a sign to be hidden in public statements. Intrinsically, in many cultures, there remains a strong need for sociality and collectivity, typical of Latin and Mediterranean areas, but also of Asian cultures, which continues to express itself despite the educational “mainstream” (prevailing culture, dominant proposal) proposed by the model Anglo-Saxon culture.

Intercultural Negotiation Arab Edition

© Article translated from the book “Negoziazione interculturale, comunicazione oltre le barriere culturali” (Intercultural Negotiation: Communication Beyond Cultural Barriers) copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available for any Publisher wishing to consider it for publication in English and other languages except for Italian and Arab whose rights are already sold and published. If you are interested in publishing the book in English, or any other language, or seek Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching, Mentoring and Consulting, please feel free to contact the author from the webstite www.danieletrevisani.com 

For further information see:

© Article translated from the book “Negoziazione interculturale, comunicazione oltre le barriere culturali” (Intercultural Negotiation: Communication Beyond Cultural Barriers) copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available for any Publisher wishing to consider it for publication in English and other languages except for Italian and Arab whose rights are already sold and published. If you are interested in publishing the book in English, or any other language, or seek Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching, Mentoring and Consulting, please feel free to contact the author from the webstite www.danieletrevisani.com 

Intercultural Communication and Negotiation. Some Linguistic Problems for Effective Communication

In the previous paragraph, we began to mention the problem of the different conception of the world produced by cultural diversity. But the problems don’t stop there. In fact, in intercultural communication we find a further barrier, generally much more evident: a different language, a different language, an uncommon communication code, unknown sub-codes (dialects, professional languages).

It is enough to hear two astronomers or two physicists talking to each other, while dealing with their work problem, to feel completely alien after a few seconds, unable to mentally connect with what they are saying. Also in this case we must consider an important phenomenon: linguistic diversity can be evident (macrodiversity: eg, Chinese vs. Arabic), but also very subtle and difficult to recognize, creating situations of linguistic micro-diversity.

There are different professional languages ​​within the same language, and different meanings applied to the same words. The problem of communication is not limited to the translation between different languages, but also touches the flow of words that exist between father and son, who grew up in two different generations, with different models and languages, or between managers of different sectors, whose problems and languages ​​become separate worlds. Translating means carrying meanings into other languages, but also, and above all, allowing access to a different system of thought.

Let’s see the following case:

• for US Americans, “tomorrow” (in Italian) means from midnight to midnight;

• in Mexico, “mañana” (always “tomorrow” in Italian) means “in the future”, it has a general postponement sense, and absolutely does not include a precise time frame.

The two different conceptions are not purely linguistic, but refer to a different perception of time. A seemingly trivial act, such as writing a date, can cause misunderstandings and problems, e.g .: 05.02.2010 means February 5, 2010 in many European countries that adopt the day / month / year date format, but it means April 5, 2010 in the USA and in other systems that conventionally adopt the month / day / year format. When two generations or two religions dialogue with each other, the problem of cultural interpretation arises seriously. This problem also arises in the dialogue between two companies, regardless of the language used.

One of the most naïve mistakes of those who face the intercultural dimension is the presumption that it is possible to translate the meanings exactly, transposing verbs and words “as they are” and simply bringing them into the language of others. Translation is actually a much more complex phenomenon. Each word, each verb, has specific “semantic fields” (fields of meaning) that cannot be translated exactly into the language of others. In some cases, there are no translation possibilities – in many cases, words and verbs have no exact correspondence in each other’s cultures and languages. Let’s see an example. An Italian company is preparing to start a production activity in China. He is looking for on-site consultancy to train managers on the issues of quality-oriented leadership, commitment to corporate values ​​(commitment), good internal communication.

It is therefore looking for trainers in communication. But how will you describe your need when the category of “trainers in communication” is not linguistically consolidated in the Chinese language? And are we sure that – if there is a similar term – the mental image that in Italy corresponds to the “trainer” is the same in the mind of the Chinese recipient? Thinking that the mental images between two subjects can match perfectly is a pure illusion. There are also intercultural problems when it comes to communication between the sexes.

If we only reflect on how much diversity exists between a Latin man and a woman on the concept of “having a relationship”, or “making love”, and other similar concepts, we can understand that the intercultural dimension is present in every moment of the day. But let’s go back to our Italian-Chinese dimension. What form of communication are we talking about? In Chinese there are at least two terms (ideograms) to describe “communication”, and at least three words that can vaguely approach the meaning of the term “trainer”. Are we sure we can translate correctly or that the translator does it? Let’s see some of these meanings in the following comparative table.

TermsIdeogramsPing YinMeanings
Communication沟通gou tongunderstand each other well between the parties
Communication传播chuan bomake yourself understood and spread your ideas
Trainer训练员xun lian yuanwho helps to do exercises
Coach培训pei xuna growth guide that takes care of both aspects of skill and motivation
Coach-Mentor导师dao shispiritual guide – who lights the way – who assists you in your growth (ex: study mentor, religious guide, teacher)

Even very similar languages ​​(Italian and Spanish) can give rise to translation problems, sometimes due to the similarity of the sound or the word. The word “embarrassed” in Italian has a meaning (roughly, to be uncomfortable), while in Spanish the word “embarazada” means to be pregnant. The same similarity in the root of the word generates problems in the American speaker who relates to a Spanish speaker by saying “I am embarrassed” (I am embarrassed), which can be decoded as “I am pregnant”.

The intercultural problem does not start only from the kilometer distance, but can occur within a few meters. Each dialect is full of words that cannot be translated into the official language. For example, the Ferrara dialect – like any dialect – uses terms that cannot be translated literally into the Italian language:

Tab. 2 – Some correspondences and problems of exact untranslatability from dialect (Ferrara) to Italian

TermsRough explanationTranslations into English possibleProblems of semantics
CioccapiattSomeone who “locks the plates”, who makes plates bang
The cioccapiatt highlights the person who makes a lot of noise but does not produce concreteness, someone who talks a lot but does not, but also someone who claims to have done or to do, but then will not.
Talker, braggartChiacchierone does not contain the semantic dimension of stealth, of boasting, which “cioccapiatt” instead possesses
Millantatore is very negatively connoted in Italian, but the “cioccapiatt” in Ferrara is only vaguely offensive, it is often a joking term.
PuffarolSomeone who “makes puffs”. Puffs are scams, escapes, broken promisesScammer, “crook”The puffarol makes scams, yes, but not graphs, it can do at most little damage
TrabascanShady person, someone who has “shady turns”Crook, shadyThe Trabascan is much more negative than the Puffarol, it can also be criminal, while the Puffarol generally does not do serious damage, but is limited to “throwing bins”

Exercises on untranslatability Exercise: search for words within their own dialects (if known), which may be difficult to translate into the Italian language. Evaluate the problems and difficulties of a precise translation, using the example of the table above. Exercise: search for words within your own language that may be difficult to translate into another known language. Evaluate the problems and difficulties of a precise linguistic translation, and the alternatives to effectively transfer the meaning. Exercise: researching technical terms within your profession, selecting above all the terms that should be explained to new customers, and the terms that we cannot take for granted or simplistically translate into a different language. Above all, select the terms that require the client’s “acculturation”.

Intercultural Negotiation Arab Edition

© Article translated from the book “Negoziazione interculturale, comunicazione oltre le barriere culturali” (Intercultural Negotiation: Communication Beyond Cultural Barriers) copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available for any Publisher wishing to consider it for publication in English and other languages except for Italian and Arab whose rights are already sold and published. If you are interested in publishing the book in English, or any other language, or seek Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching, Mentoring and Consulting, please feel free to contact the author from the webstite www.danieletrevisani.com 

For further information see: