Zahy el Kassis
Globalisation has become the main pillar of the 20th century. It seems almost impossible to define globalization without mentioning culture diversity. It is almost impossible to mention culture without mentioning conflict and conflict resolution. Though cultures are powerful, they are often unconscious influencing conflict and attempts to resolve conflict in imperceptible ways.
Cultures are more than a language, more than history food or dress. Cultural groups may share the same race, ethnicity or nationality, but they also arise from cleavages of generation, socioeconomic class, sexual orientation, ability and disability, political and religious affiliation, language and gender- to name only a few.
Since the beginning of our world conflict have been present. However culture affect the way we name-frame-blame and attempt to tame our conflicts. According to Brett Jeanne “Managing Multicultural Teams”, humans beings tend to assume that conflicts arise from different styles of communication. This can further be developed into 4 categories: Direct vs. indirect communication, managing different accent and fluency, the hierarchy and authority ladder, and finally the decision making process.
How is that related to our B.D?
Well 33 students from 15 different nationalities that speak 10 languages, on a 9 month journey together. Continuous deadlines and overlapping workloads, time constraints and dealing with the constant pressure of being catapulted into the adult world (basically to find a job). There must be some conflicts there right?
When one does not understand that others might have different starting points, conflict is more likely to occur and to escalate. Even though starting points themselves are neutral, negative motives are easily attributed to someone who begins from a different end.
However with time human beings adapt. They adapt to each other, the method, the way of thinking, and to others personality. There is no one-size-fits all approach to conflict resolution. Cultural fluency involves recognizing and acting respectfully from the knowledge that communication, ways of naming, framing and taming conflict, approaches to meaning-making, and identities and roles vary across cultures.
A great amount of group works is required in this program, so one can see and understand why conflicts arise. People create differing solutions to the underlying communal problems without considered effort. It is different point of view for one common task. Patience and the acceptance of others opinion are keys for conflict resolution.
To sum-up this article, team work face challenges that are directly interconnected into cultural differences. However these challenges can be mitigated by learning from each other and taking the best aspect of each other’s culture. This creates harmony and belonging into the B.D family that we take part of, and which will bring a wealth of experience for us.