Members of staff from a major UN organization’s Asia & Pacific regional office came together in Bangkok for an interactive training day to learn more about ‘Collaboration & Communication in a Multicultural Workplace’.
Using the organization’s standards on promoting cultural diversity, respect and tolerance as the course framework, the group explored observable and hidden aspects of culture and how members of different cultures can differ in values, attitudes, behavior and communication style. This allowed the participants to learn more about other cultures and to develop a greater awareness of their own. The session also emphasized the importance of looking beyond our natural cultural biases and appreciating different views and behavior.
The session also covered the issue of cultural pitfalls and outlined practical strategies to avoid misunderstandings and disagreements. Special emphasis was placed on maintaining a positive mindset and building relationships of trust and respect with colleagues, in order to create a sound basis that helps to avoid and resolve conflict due to cultural differences. Through practical exercises and role play, the group learnt about the importance of non-verbal aspects of communication and body language. In addition, active listening was practised as an essential component of effective communication as well as a range of culturally sensitive communication styles to conduct respectful, judgement-free and constructive conversations with colleagues.
Feedback was unanimously positive, especially regarding the practical usefulness of the course and its relevance to their actual work environment. All participants were fully engaged in the training and were able to take away concrete tools and plans for improving their approach to working in a culturally diverse environment.
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