Last week, we were visited by a guest lecturer Kate Steele who is the Executive Vice President at Creation. Creation is a full-service global communications agency who create ideas that inspire people to think, behave and do things differently. Ideas that are powerful enough to drive internal and external communications across any channel, in any format; to engage audiences through every touch point they experience a brand or participate in its story. Overall, this informs everything they do, always.
Similarly to many lecturers, Kate created a sort of engagement any lecturer would dream to create – making all students ‘googley eyed’ with awe of her knowledge & experience in the communications industry creating full attention for the whole hour to each and everyone one of the students in the class. And to keep up that momentum at 9am with a bunch of students is an applause worthy achievement; I for one was inspired!
So, without further ado this is some of the topics Kate covered in her lecture about:
The first question she asked was “Are you?”. Look at the picture to the right, and tell me what you see? You would probably reply, ‘an elder woman swimming’, but with empathy, you don’t only just see the glaringly obvious; you read deeper into the picture.
As campaigns would look at this picture above in an empathetic way. E.g. they would not only seen an elder woman, they would see a woman who is with her friends and who is full of joy. Thus, if someone read this picture lacking empathy, they would just see this as an old woman swimming and not at the deeper meanings behind the picture – if the team misread the picture, this would further create a communication barrier, a perceptual error, the campaign would therefore miss the match and not have a successful campaign.
Empathy is something which varies from person to person, but to have a deeper understanding of people and being empathetic allows you as a team member to be a productive member of a team.
The Culture Map:
Erin Mayer the author of ‘The Culture Map’, describes in her book the specific differences in how people from different cultures communicate and consider ideas at work. Below is a Ted talk on the ‘Low Context vs. High Context’ in different cultural societies:
8 points on Cultures and Working with Different Cultures:
- Communication – In different cultures, communication is vastly different.
- Evaluation – With the Dutch, they’re ‘straight to the point’ and are direct with their feedback thus fastening up the communications process. Whilst on the other hand, China in Kate’s experience, whilst producing a pitch to a company, the meeting was a jaw droppingly long 5 hour pitch. On the other hand, a happy medium would be Germany, as they work on explaining how they got to the point. The fact of the matter is, is that before you try to communicate internationally, you should evaluate the different cultural differences you would have to adjust your pitch to to facilitate a certain culture.
- Leadership -In some organisations there might be a hierarchical system, where the CEO or whoever is the decision maker would discuss the plans with those lower than them to make a consensus, but overall, the highest power would make the final decision. Which further asks us the question – ‘How do you influence them?’.
- Decision Making – This is basically weighing up both sides, what work best and what would not work. Due to students conditioned way of writing essays, we’re conditioned to write things in a way which weighs the positives and negatives in any situation in an argument thus benefiting us in making the most out of any opportunity that arises.
- Trust – Having a balanced two way communication that is built on a foundation of trust is integral to understanding others. Making sure one and another can trust one another allows the driving force behind two cultures to work well hand-in-hand.
- Disagreement – Is to avoid confrontation. E.g. when some Americans host pitches they seem to be the politest, wishing the client to have a great day. Although these seem to be normal minuscule niceties, it allows both parties to work harmoniously together. In contrary, creating teams which work best together is also crucial an example of this is that usually male and female teams seem to work best altogether in some cases.
- Scheduling – being able to work with people around the world has proven to be difficult with the constant time differences. Being able to schedule an appropriate time to call or email is important in understanding the different cultures.
Another point, Kate spoke about was the importance of persuasion and being persuasive. Making persuasive arguments to win any case, whatever the culture might be, being able to evaluate and thus persuading the leaders to agree with you.
Hopefully the above points allowed you to gather an insight in dealing with different cultures, and being able to understand and handle different cultures.