A recent trip to Pakistan highlights the importance of cross-cultural communications

Did someone say spring? Wishful thinking, right? We all know that March typically still has a lot of winter weather in store. As we anticipate our first seasonal cross-over this year, I would also like us to consider how to improve our cross-cultural communication skills. 
The majority of us work in organizations made up of individuals with different cultural backgrounds. Some grew up with different cultural norms, whether or not they came from different countries or were born in the United States. Although many of our organizations have programs and initiatives to help us value and leverage diversity, it is critical that we examine how different cultural norms impact every aspect of our communications.
In this edition, we focus on a UMass Donahue Institute (UMDI) trip to Pakistan in January 2019. This trip was orchestrated by our "sister" business unit, the UMass Civic Initiative, in support of several of their international exchange programs. Please see our Client Spotlight for more details.
I was thrilled to be a part of the UMDI/Pakistan team. Among other activities, I had the pleasure of leading several skill-building sessions focused on improving cross-cultural communication skills. For more details about the six dimensions of cross-cultural communication on which this training was centered, please see What's New at ODLS.
Staying with the cross-cultural communication theme, we would like to recommend a resource that I have personally used when traveling and working across cultures, a book entitled Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands. For more details and a link to purchase this useful guide, please see our Recommended Resource Spotlight.
In our Extended Staff Spotlight, we introduce UMDI Marketing Communications Manager Ken LeBlond, who also traveled to Pakistan. He not only presented on building a personal brand and marketing for nonprofits, but also played a key role in documenting the whole experience while visiting several cities across Pakistan.
Finally, for the those of us who could use some practical tips on how to improve our cross-cultural communication skills, please see our Top 10 Tips article .
For more information on how ODLS can help your organization with its organizational development consulting, learning solutions and Event Management needs, read on and be sure to visit us at  www.donahue.umassp.edu/odls .

Dana L. Henry, ODLS Director
(617) 287-4068

New at ODLS!

Cross-Cultural Communications Workshopcrosscultrworkshop

The goal: To improve your ability to more effectively work effectively with individuals and teams that span a range of cultural geographies. This awareness-raising session can be delivered in formats of 90 minutes or up to 4 hours. 

The Learning Objectives:
  • Develop awareness of norms across diverse cultures that impact how people work together in a business context.
  • Increase effectiveness of team communications and of addressing conflicts and resolutions across cultures.
In This Issue
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Client Spotlight: UMass Civic Initiativecivicinitiative

Pakistan Trip January 2019
A three-week trip to Pakistan may seem like a distant possibility for many of us. However, it was a familiar experience for the UMass Civic Initiative . They have been running international exchange programs in Pakistan (any many other countries) for over 10 years. Their clients comprise a mix of college students, college professors, nonprofit organization administrators and young professionals. While the topics of the programs have varied, all program participants have experienced summer "semesters" at UMass Amherst packed with class work and cultural experiences. All of these exchange programs are funded by the U.S. Department of State. 
Civic Initiative Director Mike Hannahan and Program Manager Becky Howland  led the January trip. The group of 10 UMDI staff (including ODLS Director Dana Henry) visited the cities of Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar and Karachi. In addition, nearly   150 alumni attended workshops in those cities Learn more about the Islamabad workshop
Also in Islamabad, a group of 30 nonprofit administrators attended several workshops led by Dana about cross-cultural communications, developing employees and managing change. The administrators also learned about nonprofit marketing, design thinking and grant proposal development from other UMass team members. Finally, in Karachi, the team worked with 60 college students from a large western province (Balochistan) over two days of workshops on such topics as leading change, creating a personal brand, and the importance (and challenges) of cross-cultural communication.
This summer in Amherst, the Civic Initiative will once again welcome groups from Argentina, Pakistan and 18 other countries to continue their work in public policy, political science and cultural exchange.

Extended Staff Spotlight: Ken LeBlond, marketing communications manager, UMass Donahue Institutekenleblond
Ken in Pakistan
Ken LeBlond manages all external and internal communications for UMDI including the creation and oversight of website content, social media, publicity campaigns and media relations. He also manages the institute's newsletters, including Successful Solutions. Ken's 16 years of communications  experience is coupled with a master's of public administration from the University of Washington and a bachelor's degree in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

"This was my second Pakistan trip with the UMass Civic Initiative. My favorite teaching experience this time was leading a workshop on improving organizational communications for nonprofit administrators. I also talked to our program alumni and a group of college students about creating their 'personal brand' for the job market."  Ken adds, "when the team wasn't involved in running workshops, we experienced the cities and met many new people, some of whom had never  before  met Americans. The hospitality of Pakistanis is legendary and we were treated so well no matter where we went." 

Ken also runs workshops on blogging and social media for the visiting international groups on the UMass Amherst campus. 

Recommended Resource:  Kiss, Bow, or Shake Handskissbowshakehands

Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands is a comprehensive and authoritative reference guide to proper international business protocol. 

We live in a global economy and doing business across countries or with individuals that have different cultural norms from ours is unavoidable. The latest edition of the book has been revised and updated with over 60 country profiles and provides invaluable information on how to handle common business interactions with grace, respect, and an appreciation for different countries. Each country profile contains: Cultural Overviews; Tips for Doing Business; Know Before You Go; Negotiating Strategies; Business Practices and Protocols. 

Useful Resources
Top 10 Tips: Improving Your Cross-Cultural Communication Skillstipsimprovecrosscult

When it comes down to it, even in today's high tech environment, business is accomplished largely through human interactions. Moreover, successful business interactions rely on accurate communications. Even if your data, report or presentation is flawless in its content, it is how it is communicated and how it is interpreted through personal interactions that will determine your success.

Here are our top 10 best practices to help you improve your own, and your staff's, cross-cultural communication skills:
  1. Do Your HomeworkMany cultures have certain types of etiquette when communicating. It is always a good idea to undertake some cross-cultural awareness training or at least do some research on the target culture. Make sure you have background information on your audience's country of origin.
  2. Have an Open MindWe tend to be unaware of our own biases by placing stereotypes and cultural assumptions on others. Avoid evaluating the behavior of other cultures as good or bad.
  3. Be RespectfulTo ensure that you're conveying an appropriate level of respect, use a more formal mode of speaking and gradually scale back the level of formality as the relationship develops. In many cultures, business is taken very seriously. Professionalism and protocol are constantly observed. Many cultures will not appreciate the use of humor and jokes in the business context.
Helpful Links Helpfullinks

Professional Development Vendors
  • Real Cool Productions: Full-service video, animation, and mixed media production company in Boston that services global businesses.
  • CommonLook: Rely on CommonLook to achieve compliance with PDF and document accessibility standards through a process called Remediation. 
  • Tara Hall: Independent graphic and web design consultant.
Professional Development Resources
Professional Learning Associations
UMass Donahue Institute
Organizational Development & 
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