Cultural Intelligence: Working Effectively in a Multicultural Environment
This workshop aims to improve the cultural intelligence of employees in multicultural work environments. In order to operate effectively in the workplace, it is essential that all employees are able to anticipate potential conflicts and have the skills to address issues which may arise due to cultural misunderstandings.
This kind of thing has traditionally annoyed me ever since I got to university in the late 80s and was forced, along with the rest of the student body, to undergo "sensitivity training." I am aware that there are folks who make a living giving this kind of advice to multinationals, and I don’t want to deprive anyone of their livelihood.
On the other hand, what’s the value here? Or to put it another way, I think it’s all a big scam. I do not consider myself an expert on multicultural issues, but in my experience here since ’99, practically all disputes I’ve seen between foreigners and locals can be avoided by giving people the following advice when they are hired, "Don’t be an asshole." Simple, yet effective.
Are there exceptions? Sure. Foreigners should avoid use of euphemisms and culturally-specific references, although I think people should be smart enough to figure that out on their own. My old boss liked to allude to old TV shows and
There is also the question of management style, and many "experts" will spend lots of time explaining how an expat simply will not be able to navigate a Chinese workplace and deal with passive-aggressive types unless they undergo special training. Bollocks to that. Again, this might help some folks, but I’ve found that with the magic of not-being-an-asshole, the passive-aggressive types on staff are often (surprise) nicer to me than to other expats in the office. And if I find that I continue having a problem with certain co-workers, then there is usually a reason for that behavior that has nothing to do with cultural issues.
As someone who provides advice for a living, I don’t want to dump on these consultant types too much. Everybody needs to earn a buck. Suffice it to say, however, that I will not be attending that particular workshop.