Conflict and Miscommunication Across Cultures – Practical Skills for Creating Better Understanding and Better Relationships
Nina has worked with many cultures in her decades of mediation work. She will share concepts such as the different ways of looking at fairness, how cultures respond to conflict and why they have dissimilar desires as to their goals and outcomes, how people express the same emotion in a variety of ways, and why it is a common mistake to “pretend to be in someone else’s shoes”. This very practical 30 minutes will help you understand some of the diversity across cultures that can create problems and explore positive steps in working through the conflict. Read, Listen, Share »
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Communication can be challenging regardless of whether you are communicating with your friends, family members, co-workers or boss. But why do we appear to have such a difficult time communicating with the opposite sex? Regardless of a person’s ethnicity, race, or sex, people converse using verbal and nonverbal communication.
What is the communication challenge?
Verbal communication can be heard by another. It involves communicating a message using words. When you are communicating orally or verbally you are sending your message by speaking to the other person. On several occasions during conversations I have had with my brothers, male friends, or significant other, they have checked-out. Their eye’s glaze over and they are no longer listening to a word I am saying. Several of my female friends have also had similar complaints. If the incident happens repeatedly, it can cause conflict within those relationships. The main complaints I’ve heard and experienced from other women is that they feel ignored by the male and wonder if what they have to say is unimportant.
Why does this happen?
This happens because women and men have different goals and expectations and therefore communicate differently. Women see communication as a way to express themselves and their emotions, and share their experiences with others as a way to build rapport. Men see communication as a way to problem-solve, which may then lead to an action.
What is Nonverbal Communication?
Nonverbal Communication uses body language to send a message without the use of words. These actions can be:
o Facial Expressions
Women are often expressive with their use of nonverbal communication. Women tend to use physical contact, such as a hug, or the squeeze of an arm or shoulder. Women also use their hands to emphasize what they are conveying in their message. Men, however, tend to be less skilled in using subtle body language such as leaning forward, nodding, or titling their head to show they are engaged in the conversation. A key to men’s non-verbal communication is found in their posture.
Two examples of posture are:
o Standing straight with arms parallel to torso – Shows openness and willingness to talk.
o Hands behind the back with palms on hips – Displays a desire for something to end or be finished.
How can Nonverbal Communication be helpful?
Nonverbal communication can be helpful during a conversation by:
• Providing feedback to the person speaking that you are listening. For example, nodding your head in understanding.
• Providing a window into their emotions. Is the listener smiling, frowning, or perhaps shrugging their shoulders?
Scenario: I am sharing my experience about how my job interview went and twenty minutes into sharing, my brother’s eyes glaze over. What do I do now?
- Observe the facial expressions and then acknowledge it has been 20 minutes. Check-in with him to see if he has more time to listen. Remember KISS (Keep it short and simple)
- Verbally communicate what you need from him before you share your experience with the job interview. For example, “I really need to talk to you about my job interview and get your feedback.” Remember, men are action-oriented in their goal of communication. Give them something to do as they listen to your story.
- Consider these questions:
- Has your attention started to drift?
- Is there something distracting you from listening?
- Why have you checked out?
- Remind yourself why you are listening by asking her what she needs from you while you are listening
- Acknowledge or validate her by simply saying “I hear how excited you are about the interview.”
Women and men communicate differently both verbally and nonverbally. But if you go into your next conversation aware of what the differences are, potential conflicts can be avoided. To further understand the differences in male/female communication and to learn further tools and strategies, tune in to Gregg Catalano’s podcast That’s Not What I Meant! on the Texas Conflict Coach® website.
By Tracy Culbreath
Graduate Student, University of Baltimore – Negotiation and Conflict Management Program
Twenty Twinkling Stars: (A Children’s book) Celebrating the Children of Sandy Hook Elementary School
It has been two years since the tragic event on December 14, 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School that claimed the lives of 20 children and 6 educators. With school starting for most children in the upcoming weeks how does a parent prepare their children to handle conflict, disagreements and fighting on the playground and classroom? Even at the preschool and early elementary school age, modeling and sharing proactive and positive values and ways to resolve conflict can be very valuable. Having this kind of difficult conversation with your child could potentially be one of the hardest things you will have to do. Each parent will need to assess the situation for yourself and use your best judgment.
As a way to ease into the conversation, I suggest reading a book to your little ones entitled Twenty Twinkling Stars written by Laurie Schloff, Director of Executive Training with The Speech Improvement Company, Inc. and illustrated by Lena Warnke, a New York University student. The book is an intergenerational project where two minds have come together to share the beauty and joy of childhood. According to Laurie Schloff, the book can be used as a tool for “character building” and exhibits the “beauty of children through entertaining stars”. I had the privilege of speaking with Laurie to discuss the book. Her inspiration in writing the book was to “contribute to creating a more peaceful world through communication”.
It was my pleasure speaking with Laurie to gain a little insight into her project, Twenty Twinkling Stars. Here is a reflection of our phone interview:
• What do you want the readers to know about the book -Twenty Twinkling Stars?
The book was written to celebrate the spirit, joy, and passion of the twenty children of Sandy Hook Elementary School. I wrote Twenty Twinkling Stars to contribute to creating a more peaceful world through communication. The characters in the book are stars that have personalities – Caring Star, Courage Star, Love Bug Star, Sporty Star, Artist, Star, Music Star, Birthday Star, etc. Whimsical rhymes and the beautiful illustration are designed to appeal to young children between the ages of three and seven.
• What challenges did you incur while writing the book?
Pain and heartbreak at first. Then joy emerged as we celebrated the lives of the lost children as well as the energy joy and passions of children everywhere.
• Do you have a favorite star? If so, which star and why?
Sleepy Star is my favorite because he sleeps on the moon and dreams. Also, my last name Schloff, means “sleep “in German. Reading about sleepy star me just help your little ones go to dreamland!
• How can one purchase the book and learn more information?
To purchase the book, visit National SAVE or Amazon.com. Additional details can be found on the Twenty Twinkling Stars website or our Facebook.
• Why did you partner with SAVE?
We wanted to contribute to an organization which uses communication as a tool to solve conflict. All the proceeds of the book will go to the organization SAVE (The National Associations of Students Against Violence Everywhere) a non-profit organization dedicated to decreasing potential for violence in school and communities with a focus on using communication as a tool to help youth resolve conflict through nonviolence.
Laurie and Lena were special guests on The Texas Conflict Blog Talk Radio program. Tune in to hear about how they partnered together and their thoughts on the book. In addition, Laurie provides five techniques for communicating in a peaceful, proactive way.
“We miss your exuberant endless joy. Take flight my boy, know you have the wings you wanted” – Twenty Twinkling Stars
With the start of 2014-2015 school year in full swing, children across the country will be boarding the school bus to arrive before the morning bell sounds. According to the National Highway Safety Administration, school buses are the safest mode of transportation for getting children back and forth to school. But how safe is a child from the other children inside of the bus? School bus bullying is becoming a growing concern among parents, school administrations, and bus drivers. According to the U.S. Department of Education 10 percent of school bullying occurs on the school bus. Stopbullying.gov defines bullying as “unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.”
What are the signs of a child being bullied on the school bus?
• Reluctance to ride the school bus
• Repeated occurrences of “missing the bus”
• Asking others to take them to school to avoid the bus
School bus drivers have a very important task, which is to make sure every child on the bus arrives safely to and from school. To prevent or stop school bus bullying, it takes a village (parents, teachers, and bus drivers).
What can you do if a child is being bullied on the bus?
• Listen – It’s not easy for a child to say they are being picked on. When they bring it up, listen.
• Ask open-ended questions. An open-ended question can’t be answered with a yes or no response. Some examples of open-ended questions are:
- What happened on the bus today?
- How did you feel about riding the bus today?
- Who do you like to sit with on the bus?
- Who do you stay away from on the bus?
• The buddy system – Have the child sit with a neighbor or friend.
• Have the child being bullied sit on the right front side of the bus. They can be seen in the bus driver’s mirror.
How can the school administrators and bus drivers be involved?
If you feel that more action is necessary, you can contact the school administration and find out what policies are in place for bullying on the school bus. If the school buses have assigned seats, suggest that they separate the children that are being bullied or are bullying others. Also some school buses may have cameras, find out if the child’s bus has a camera that could discourage bullying.
All children deserve to be and feel safe on the bus and at the school. Don’t let a child start their school day off as a victim of bullying. By working to identify and prevent bullying on the bus and at school, they can start and end their school day without fear of being threatened. This will take the joint effort from teachers, parents, bus drivers, and the school administration. It is time to start making a difference, how aware are you?
By Tracy Culbreath
Graduate Student, University of Baltimore – Negotiation and Conflict Management Program