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Culture and conflict 1. Why is it important to understand cultural differences when resolving conflict? May completely miss underlying causes and address.

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Presentation on theme: "Culture and conflict 1. Why is it important to understand cultural differences when resolving conflict? May completely miss underlying causes and address."— Presentation transcript:

1 Culture and conflict 1

2 Why is it important to understand cultural differences when resolving conflict? May completely miss underlying causes and address only symptoms – not solve the real problem Heighten tensions and exacerbate the existing problem Feed the stereotype and widen the communication gap Because we have been committed the ministry of reconciliation – (2 Cor 5: 19). 2

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4 Assertions There is no “better” culture. Culture just is. Culture is not congenital; it is acquired. It is possible to be “in-between” cultures and move along a continuum of cultural differences. What we present are generalizations. Not everyone fits each descriptive. In understanding a different culture, one must be willing to step out of his/her own culture and get a perspective from the “outside”. We are not here to critique or dismiss any particular cultural differences; only to try and understand them. 4

5 Constraints to cultural understanding Cognitive constraints – the frame of reference or world view which filters all information that is received Behavioural constraints – Each culture has its own rules of behaviour which affects verbal and non verbal communication Emotional constraints – Expressive, hidden, suppressed… 5

6 Why does intercultural conflict happen? Some common causes Miscommunication Misattribution Expectations Values 6

7 Contributing factors Cultural variability factors Individualism and collectivism Hierarchy, formality and Power distance Perception of self Low context vs high context Being vs doing These (and others) influence the way we attribute meaning to conflict events, values we hold in approaching or avoiding conflict and the way we communicate 7

8 IndividualismCollectivism Individualism emphasizes the individual identity over group identity, individual rights over group obligations Strong assertion of personal opinions, display of personal emotions, importance of personal accountability, …Collectivism emphasizes group identity, and in- group oriented concerns over individual wants and desires Collective opinions or ideas, restraint of personal emotional expression, protection of in-group members 8 Note: As stated previously, people may move along a cultural continuum constantly

9 Egalitarian, informal and low power distance Hierarchical, formal and large power distance People respected for their personal attributes than position Assumes no power distance but can be mistaken as control by other culture when taking initiative Persons are valued differently based on race, caste, gender…ascribe status and priority treatment to persons of importance Power distance – comfortable with unequal distribution of power; Having a person of authority “telling you what to do” does not bother you. 9

10 Construal of self IndependentInterdependent Self as autonomous Self reliant, unencumbered, rational choice makers; Practice direct verbal communication Make sense of their environment, concerned with presenting self credibly and competently. “In group” bound, harmony seekers; Concerned with what others think of their projected “self image”. Practice responsive communication in anticipating thoughts and feelings of the other The fear of “losing face” or honour is real and affects how those from collectivist cultures relate. 10

11 Low contextHigh context -Communication through explicit verbal message, straight talk - Sender oriented value (speaker is responsible for constructing a clear message -Communication is best conveyed through context (social roles, positions etc) and non-verbal channels. -Listener is expected to “read between the lines” to accurately infer implicit intent of the message and observe non-verbal clues - Context of the event is as important as the event itself 11

12 Low context (contd…)High context (contd) -Life and issues are compartmentalized and analyzed - Content is more important than the context - Assumption that there is no distinction between idea and person (i.e. rejection of idea = rejection of self). -Experience (including ones interpretation of it) = facts - Life is seen holistically (for ex: difficult to make distinction between the sin and the sinner) 12

13 Doing Being Value results and materialism. Interpersonal conflict resolution follows an “outcome-oriented” model; emphasizes importance of moving quickly towards the phase of reaching tangible goals/ outcomes. Value relationships and quality of life. Interpersonal conflict resolution follows a “process-oriented” model; emphasizes importance of f “mutual or group face” interests before tangible goals or outcomes can be discussed; subtle negotiation of face-related issues such as pride, honour, dignity, insult, shame, trust, respect and prestige. These come before tangible goals. 13 In cross cultural relationships, when speed of implementing a solution takes a higher value than restoring the relationship, you have lost the war even if you manage to win the battle. – Patty Lane; Crossing Cultures, 2002

14 Credits Most of this material is taken from the book by Patty Lane; Crossing Cultures, 2002. I would recommend that you read it for a fuller understanding of some of the concepts presented herein. 14

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