Tuesday 5 May 2009

Cultural Differences

Where are you today? How much of your environment, the jargon and language you use,
the attitudes, do you take for granted? Do you sometimes find (for example at conferences, or dinner with non-work friends) that you have to explain something you thought ‘everyone knew’?

The biggest barrier is assumption

In professional circles, particularly where the training is lengthy and the regulations and license to practice onerous, one of the biggest barriers to communication is assumption. You hear a word and think you know what is meant – the other sees you nod and carries on, and 10 minutes later you realise just how far apart you really are.
What would it be like to be understood first time around? Not to win every argument, but at least to be heard, permitted to make your point? And what can you learn from your colleagues, if you take the time to recognise that they may be talking a different language (using the same words with different meanings, or different words to talk about the same thing)?
Think what you could accomplish!


Next time you’re talking with people of a different professional background (eg health and care professionals to administrators, health professionals in different environments, the next MDT meeting especially if it includes enforcement staff), listen out. Not just for the words that help you build rapport, the pace and tone of speech and representational systems used, but for the line of reasoning, for the little red flags that suggest you might have missed the point although most of it sounds familiar.
When is the next interdepartmental meeting? What could you achieve by getting this right? What do you need to prepare to achieve this?
A lot of questions, but I’m sure you’ll agree (after the event) that it transforms what used to be frustrating wastes of time into really valuable and productive meetings.
If we’d known the start point, we wouldn’t have ended up here!

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