3.8. Organizational/Cultural Differences in Learning Preferences & Communication

Organizational/Cultural Differences in Learning & Communication: How does organizational and cultural differences impact learning preferences and communication for training delivery? What are the cultural and organizational factors to consider for training? (AOE 3. Training Delivery; 3.8. Organizational or Cultural Differences in Learning Preferences and Communication)

3.8. Organizational or Cultural Differences in Learning Preferences and Communication
Cultural differences can impact the training delivery and how the learner receives the information. Around the globe, organizations and their employees think, work, act, learn, and lead in different ways -- these vary based on national, ethnic, and corporate cultures.

Learning Objectives
  • Discuss how language, speech, environmental, and psychological factors can be barriers to communication during training delivery, & provide one example related to each factor
  • Explain how culture may affect and require a modification in training delivery
Barriers to Communication: to prepare for intercultural communication talent development professionals are recommended to know that there are differences when providing training. If left unattended to, cultural differences can cause misunderstandings, conflict, and poor learner interactions or involvement of participants in a training session. Culture as an “individual’s patterned ways of thinking, feeling, and reacting” -- how do people interact with one another? What are some attributes and characteristics of teams, groups, or organizations you work with?

Language and Speech
: we might all speak the same language, but there are so many nuances, differences, and misunderstandings that can occur. From accents to how we pronounce words.There might also be differences with pace or linguistics for how language is used. Other challenges might come from gross translation errors or nuance errors.

: relates to a culture’s existing technological level and physical environment; this is primarily based on knowledge rather than culturally intrinsic values. Examples of this include: 
  • Personal space: some folks hug, while others might give more space or greet with a handshake
  • Technology: some countries use less technology based on their values to live without; unlike the always needing to be connected or tethered to a device like the Western part of the world.
Psychology: the way thoughts and ideas are process may also vary from different points of view globally, here are four ways cultures think and express themselves:
  1. Social organization
  2. Contexting
  3. Authority
  4. Concept 
Nonverbal Behavior: Did you know that 65% of a message's meaning is conveyed through nonverbal behavior? It’s true This could be from eye contact to a laugh. Nonverbal behaviors include both your appearance (first impressions, artifacts, and physical traits) and body language (posture and how we talk, stand, walk, sit, etc. Types of body language include:
  • Emblems, e.g. Ok or peace sign
  • Illustrators, e.g. hand gestures with expressive talk
  • Affect displays, e.g. emoting your feelings
  • Regulators, e.g. nodding, shrugging
  • Adaptors, e.g. fidgeting, scratching, ticks
Patterns of eye contact include -- eye movements and their meaning:
  • Cognitive: associated with thinking & processing new information
  • Monitoring: associated with understanding
  • Regulatory: associated with responding to the communicator for what’s being said
  • Expressive: associated w/ the emotional responses of the people communicating (emo)
READ: Nonverbal Communication in the Workplace via The Balance Careers

Proxemic Zones and Difference Between Cultures
: a term coined by anthropologist Edward T. Hall in 1977 defining the study of the cultural, behavioral and sociological aspects of spatial distances between individuals; this might vary by country and culture. For example, the four types of distance between adults in the US are:
  1. intimate (18 inches)
  2. personal (18 inches to 4 feet)
  3. social (four to 12 feet)
  4. public (more than 12 feet)
Some people feel threatened when others are too close to them -- but they also find people standoffish if the are too far apart. Fun fact: friend co-workers tend to sit beside each other at a table, where mere acquaintances or enemies in a work setting might sit opposite one another. (More to come on this topic AOE 11. Global Mindset)

Basic Communication:
information theory came from scientists’ interested in electronic communication systems (you're very welcome), it’s also called communication theory, computer mediated communication, human information processing, etc. just to name a few. Listening is one activity in a relational process -- speaking is the other. Together they make a dyadic (two-part) system -- so here are some common concepts and terms talent development professionals and researchers use in this area:
  • Environment: conditions or circumstances in which a system operates
  • Information: something that reduces uncertainty
  • Message: something that is communicated
  • Source: the sender of a message
  • Noise: something that hinders the flow of information between a source and receiver 
  • Receiver: person/device that gets a message in communications & processes it through the filter of the mind
  • Feedback: a communication that gives people information about the effect of their behavior
Barriers to Listening: Listening -- it’s a challenge. Sure you can hear, but are you actually listening and understanding what is being communicated? An average person talks at about 140 words/minute and a listener can understand about 280-560 words/minute. That being said, most of us can think three times faster than the person sending the message. However, 15% of the spoken word is lost in a training situation where the speaker talks fast, is rushed with delivery or speeds up because they are anxious to get the presentation over with. Other communication problems may include:
  • Reluctant to convey the message
  • Hasn’t understood the message
  •  Is misinformed or lying
  • Has speech difficulties
  • Has an accent different than that of the listener
  • Lacks the vocabulary to explain current matter or there’s jargon the listener can’t decode
  • Uses nonverbal communication that doesn’t support his or her words
  • Fails to immediately state why the message may be of interest to the listener
That being said this listener issues may include:
  • Might be preoccupied and not shift their internal dialog to the external conversation
  • Be distracted by reactions to the speaker's appearance
  • Be impatient/interrupt because they are busy or believes the message is a waste of time
  • Lack the vocabulary or understanding to interpret the message
  • Have impaired hearing or something is blocking the message
Preferences to Formal Vs. Informal Approaches
  1. Informal Learning
  2. Formal Learning
Individual Differences in Learning Preferences

There are many theories that distinguish or have set learning preferences and styles -- most have been debunked by now. You know this from what I already shared in episode 3.2. Individual Learning Preferences.

That being said, there are different modalities to learn and some people prefer a mix to fully understand -- I know I do. Here are some ways to offer individual choice and options for learning preferences -- consider these formats:
  • Lectures
  • Games and activities
  • Reading
  • Talking
  • Act as a leader or follower
  • Listen to music in the background or white noise
  • Silence to study
  • Brainstorming new ideas
  • Working alone or in groups
  • Creative vs. analytic styles
  • Computer vs. human interaction
  • Reflections
  • Need for closure or remain open for the unknown
How do you prefer to learn? Are you more of an informal or formal learner?
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