Communicating Across
Leadership Program
Margaret Mead
If you are going to achieve richer
culture, rich in contrasting values,
we must recognize the whole
gamut of human personalities,…in
which each diverse human gift will
find a fitting place.
Background – Southern
• One of the most diverse places in the
• Most states in the south are growing in
• Predicted to not have a majority
Human Scrabble
27 Volunteers
Piece of Paper
Something to Write With
The object of the game is for
individuals to mix and mingle and put
their sheet together with as many
other individuals to create a word.
Human Scrabble continued
• As word are made, each participant will
keep track of their own points. For each
letter in the word that you create with other
individuals, each person who contributes
gets that number points.
• For example, if three participants have the
letters D O G, they would each get three
points for spelling the word DOG!!
So What?
• How did those who got lots of points
feel when they saw the letter they were
• What about those with few points?
• How did people respond to those with
the “Q” and “Z”?
• How does this activity relate to real life?
• What are situations that you have been
in where this type of thing happens?
• Are we including everyone?
What is Culture?
A way of life
Shared beliefs, values, and norms
Nothing in our lives is free of culture
Fundamentally instilled in people from
• Integrated, dynamic systems
“High Context” vs. “Low Context”
• Hall (1976) describes as being either high
or low context cultures
• High – have strong interpersonal bonds
and extensive networks with members of
their in-group.
• Low – compartmentalize their personal
relationships; they prefer lots of
background information
General Examples of Context
• High
– Japanese
– Chinese
– Korean
– African
• Low
– German
– Scandinavian
– American
– English
Nonverbal Communication
• Happens unconsciously
• It is a silent language
• Rules and norms that govern nonverbal
communication behaviors are culturespecific (Fritz et al. (2005).
• Include: body movements, how people
orient themselves, what they wear, eye
contact, touch, and voice inflection.
The Face, Hands, Touch
• Face – primary transmitter of emotional
cues (Happy, sad, frustrated)
• Hand – hand movement is primary means
of showing intensity
• Touch – Hall (1983) says it is the most
fundamental part of the human experience.
Include such things as hugging, kissing,
shaking hands, and clasping shoulders.
– High context cultures – touch is an intrinsic
part of communication
– Low context cultures – NOT intrinsic part of
• How much space do people need?
• High Context Cultures – prefer close
distances when speaking to one another
• Low Context Cultures – prefer far away
distances when speaking to one another
• Most common misunderstanding of
communication across cultures.
Cross Cultural Competence
Samover and Porter (1995)
• Know yourself and your own cultural
• Consider the physical and human settings
• Seek to understand diverse message
• Develop and display empathy
• Encourage and provide feedback
• Develop communication flexibility
• Avoid stereotyping and prejudice
Cross Cultural Competence
Samover and Porter (1995) continued
Be aware of consequences
Seek commonalities
Recognize the validity of differences
Communicate respect
Be nonjudgmental
Tolerate ambiguity
Be aware of individual differences
“Habitual thinking need not be
forever. One of the most
significant findings in psychology
in the last 20 years is that
individuals can choose the way
they think.”
- Martin Seligman,
Williams (2001) says we all look at the
world through our own spectacles
These lenses are how we view differences in:
– Culture
– Ethnicity
– Nationality
– Race
– People in general
– Regions in America
How do we develop our lenses?
Legacies + Layers = Lenses
Legacies – Powerful Historical
Events that shape our views of
the world.
Layers – Unchangeable Life
Which lenses
do you see
Incorporate, Absorb, Fit In, Standardize
---------“When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”
---------Subcultures should adopt the lifestyles,
values, customs and languages of the
dominant/majority culture.
Sightless, Unseeing, Inattentive to
---------“When I see you, I see a person, and
nothing else.”
---------All men and women are created equal
Core, Heart, Focal, Central
---------“My Culture is central to my personal and public
---------People that are not of the dominant culture
should detach from this dominant culture to
survive, rebuild, and maintain their cultural
Privileged, Select Few, Superior,
---------“Membership has its privileges.”
---------Lineage and innate qualities and abilities
entitle some members of the culture to
be advantaged within society.
Mix, Incorporate, Combine
---------“ Ebony and Ivory live together on my
piano keys … shouldn’t we?”
---------We can achieve greater equality and
understanding through working, living
and socializing side by side.
Deserve, Worthy of, Earned,
---------“Cream rises to the top.”
---------Opportunity should be based only on an
individual’s initiative, competence and
Many, Varied, Mixed, Choices
---------“The more cultural diversity, the better.”
---------We are enriched by the diversity of
cultures in our country. Our future
success is based on allowing each of
our cultures to contribute to the mosaic.
Isolate, Disconnect, Protect, Fragment,
---------“Birds of a feather flock together.”
---------It is best for our culture to remain
separate from other cultures to
preserve our position and control.
Rise Above, Sacred, Inspire
---------“There’s really only one race – the
human race.”
---------Our common divine origin transcends
cultural identity.
Injured, Persecuted, Abused, Exploited
---------“We shall overcome.”
---------People of different cultures are
systematically victimized by the
dominant culture and exploited in ways
that have crippled their opportunity to
be successful.
• These ten lenses are just one exercise
you can do to evaluate how you view
• This activity just introduces you to Mr.
Williams’ work. The information to
order his book is below:
To Order a Copy of:
The Ten Lenses by: Mark Williams