Shame Leadership - Communicating Across Cultural Boundaries
Understanding culture and its values aids the communicator
in dealing with conflict resolution. Elmer (1993) posits there are ways we can
be more culturally sensitive in handling conflict (p 46). The goal of conflict
resolution within a given culture is to understand that everyone has a vested
interest and those who gain awareness and understanding of such interest can
creatively manage the situation as to protect the dignity of those involved
(Elmer, 1993, p 59). Understanding values helps the communicator understand why
a culture will attempt to preserve itself when threatened (Foster, 2012).
Cultural barriers in language restrict the communicator’s ability to listen,
understand and approach the culture with sensitivity to those who operate
within the culture (Foster, 2012). Such disconnect may hinder any emotional
connection with those within the culture (Black et al., 1999, p 120). While
Westerners prefer and default to a more direct approach to communication
without taking it personal, shame based cultures prefer more indirect
approaches to conflict. Individuals are not singled and problems are seen as a
communal affair (Elmer, 1993, p 46). While language in North America supports
directness and holds some distinct advantages, such language might alienate
those within a more indirect culture (Elmer, 1993, p 46). Elmer (1993) argues
most people see directness in communication as crude, harsh, uncultured and
certainly disrespectful if not cruel (p 50). Global leaders grow to understand
that forcing someone to change from their cultural experience means the leader
is avoiding their own awkwardness of changing and thus expecting someone to be
more like them (Elmer, 1993, p 53). Global leadership understand that each
individual has a vested interest and how they protect the dignity of those
within the culture builds openness and trust in the relationship the leader has
with his followers (Elmer, 1993, p 59).
Elmer, Duane (1993). Cross-Cultural Conflict. Building Relationships for Effective Ministry. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
Foster, Philip (2012). Retrieved from his posting: Blackboard Dialogues for Doctorate in Strategic Leadership, Regent University, Virginia Beach, VA.
Black, J.S., Morrison, A.J. and Gregersen, H.B. (1999). Global Explorers. The Next Generation of Leaders. New York, NY: Routledge.