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Archive for February, 2012

High- and Low-Context Cultures and Power Distances

Literature provides argument that cross-cultural communication is a complex matter. Edward Hall argued much of the human communication is non-verbal and always follows cultural and contextual patterns (Katz, 2006). Hall further argues that there are two key concepts: High-Context v Low-Context and Polychronic v Monochronic (Babel, n.d.).

High-Context communication assumes that the people we speak to are wise to the context in which our message is set and ideas are not spelled out in detail (Babel, n.d.). In high-context cultures such as Japan and China most of the information about the meaning of a message is contained in the context of the setting in which the message is given (Hackman & Johnson, 2000, p 300). Group members make assumption that they share common meanings and prefer indirect or covert messaging that relies heavily on nonverbal codes and understanding (Hackman & Johnson, 2000, p 300). Alternately, a low-context culture such as Germany or Great Britain embeds much more meaning in the words that make up their verbal messages and they speak much more directly to the message recipient. (Hackman & Johnson, 2000, p 301).

Another important attribute to consider in the development of a cross-cultural communication strategy might include what Hofstede defines as Power Distance or the extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and organizations within a country expect and accept that power is distributed unequally (Tamas, 2007). Hofstede argues that all societies are unequal and within high power-distance cultures, the inequality is considered to be a natural part of their world while in contrast, low power-distance cultures are uncomfortable with differences in wealth, status, power and privilege (Hackman & Johnson, 2000, p 302). Leaders can run into difficulties dealing with other cultures when power distances and nonverbal cues are ignored.

References:

Katz, Lothar (2006). “Book Review: Edward T. Hall. The Silent Language.” Leadership Crossroads. Retrieved February 17, 2012 from leadershipcrossroads.com.

Babel (n.d.) “The Silent Language” Babel Language and Cultural Consultants Monthly Newsletter. Retrieved February 17, 2012 from babelgroup.co.uk.

Hackman, Michael Z. and Johnson, Craig E. (2000). Leadership. A Communication Perspective. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press.

Tamas, Andy (2007). “Geert Hofstede’s Dimensions of Culture and Edward T. Hall’s Time Orientations.” Retrieved on February 17, 2012 from tamas.com.

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Philip A Foster, MA is Founder/CEO of Maximum Change Inc. Elevating leaders and their organizations to the next level since 2005. Master Certified Coach, Philip A Foster, MA and his associates facilitate effective positive change by helping organizations, leaders and individuals in high demand — design and implement strategies that maximize focus and deliver results. Specializing in Organization and Strategic Leadership.

Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Web | Skype: philip.a.foster | 615-216-5667

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Relationships are the new wealth of the global economy.

Literature reveals certain barriers to consider in cross-cultural communication. Zweifel (2003) reminds us a global leader already understands the dynamics of language as the very reflection of the culture in which the organization operates (p 25). English is consider the language of business with more than 1 billion people in over 100 countries speaking it as either a first or second language (Marquardt & Berger, 2000, p 4). More specifically English, according to Marquardt and Berger (2000), has become the global language of media and computer and carriers certain cultural and social values (p 4). Culturally and socially holding a common language aids in the development of lasting friendships and trust within the context of differing cultures (Foster, 2012).

Barriers exist when individuals are not able to effectively communicate wants, needs and desires to one another. A global leader must be able to communicate and build the organizations vision (Marquardt & Berger, 2000, p 31). When individuals do not speak and understand a common language, it becomes difficult to get people to comprehend the vision (Marquardt & Berger, 2000, p 31). While speaking in a common language creates its own challenges, the ability to listen for verbal and social cues in a foreign language becomes a greater challenge. Literature argues that there is great value in attentive listening (Marquardt & Berger, 2000, p 43). When an individual does not understand a given language, a barrier is instantly erected.

Creating trust within teams is essential to the success of any organization (Marquardt & Berger, 2000, p 48). Literature argues that our natural impulse is to homogenize everything rather than relish diversity and learn from it (Marquardt & Berger, 2000, p 50). Breaking down barriers is about human relationships and how they are developed through understanding of languages and culture.

References

Zweifel, Thomas D (2003). Culture Clash – Managing the Global High-Performance Team. New York, NY: SelectBooks.

 

Marquardt, Michael J. and Berger, Nancy O. (2000). Global Leaders for the 21st Century. Albany, NY: New York Press.

 

Foster, Philip A. (2012). Retrieved from his posting: Blackboard Dialogues for Doctorate in Strategic Leadership, Regent University, Virginia Beach, VA.

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Philip A Foster, MA is Founder/CEO of Maximum Change Inc. Elevating leaders and their organizations to the next level since 2005. Master Certified Coach, Philip A Foster, MA and his associates facilitate effective positive change by helping organizations, leaders and individuals in high demand — design and implement strategies that maximize focus and deliver results. Specializing in Organization and Strategic Leadership.

Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Web | Skype: philip.a.foster | 615-216-5667

Running the Race can be Exhausting

As a professional coach I hear this all the time… I’m exhausted!  I mean, who isn’t exhausted these days?  Many of us are working hard, putting in long hours and then there is the family and civic responsibilities.

I get it we are all tired and to be honest I could use a vacation.  But even when I am on vacation I am thinking of my to-do list. So how do you shut it off and focus on something else? For me, it starts with a decision that my smart phone, email in box and the never ending to-do list can wait.  When my son asks me to spend time with him – I listen and where at all possible I will drop everything and spend that precious time with him. Why? Because what I put into my family will last much longer than the action item on that list. I determined a long time ago that there are non-negotiables in my life that start with my faith and extend to my family.   I realize that many don’t always have as much luxury to put things on hold at a moments notice. But, you certainly do have the ability to control many aspects of your life by making a decision. Make a decision on what controls your focus. For some, there life is a stream of get up, go to work, come home late, kiss the spouse, vegetate on the coach and go to bed late.

Some ways to take back your life:

1. Eat a good breakfast each day and snack on healthy foods throughout the day. Moderate lunch and a good dinner. Diet is important to how you feel.

2. Exercise – even walking the steps at work is better than no exercise at all – but, if you can run, walk or actually go to the gym 3 to 5 times a week where possible.

3. When you get home, eat a sit-down meal with your family as many times a week as possible. Turn the phones and television off and spend time focused on your spouse and kids.

4. Read or spend time talking to your kids before bed.

5. Spend time talking to your spouse. Tell them the highs and lows of your day. Tell them your joys, sorrows and frustrations form the day. This is not about dumping on your spouse or telling them where they went wrong. This about sharing the inner-most feelings you have. Verbal intimacy builds emotional intimacy which grows the chances of physical intimacy.

6. IF you spend a lot of time with the television when you get home – I would strongly encourage you to have your cable shut off. Television is the one thing that sucks the life out of families and relationships. Spend time with your spouse.

7. Go to bed at a decent time WITH your spouse.

8. Take a power nap on the weekends. Now that you don’t have TV in your way you can get some rest. If you have an office and can get away with it – close and lock the door at work during lunch time, turn on  the do not disturb on your phone – silence the cell and power nap for 15 minutes.

9. When on vacation – shut the phone and email off altogether or make an agreement with yourself and your family that you will only check your messages once a day.

Trust me when I say that I believe in work hard – play hard… I work very hard… but when it is time to shut things down and spend time with the important aspects of my life – I am 1000% in it.

Life is a marathon – you cross the finish line only when you pass from this life into the next. My personal retirement plan – when I am dead, I am retired. Until then I am going to live out my life with as much purpose as possible and I will always default to focusing on those things that are most important.

What decisions do you need to make to put your life back into balance?

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Philip A Foster, MA is Founder/CEO of Maximum Change Inc. Elevating leaders and their organizations to the next level since 2005. Master Certified Coach, Philip A Foster, MA and his associates facilitate effective positive change by helping organizations, leaders and individuals in high demand — design and implement strategies that maximize focus and deliver results. Specializing in Organization and Strategic Leadership.

Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Web | Skype: philip.a.foster | 615-216-5667