Cross-Cultural Communication


World Values Survey Map: an incredible long-running programme!

I was asked to create a cultural awareness and communication training for a group of technical experts who advise retail partners across EMEA, including some countries in Central Asia. Although team had not struggled with this significantly in the past, the team leader felt it was important to increase awareness of cultural differences and how these could impact even rather factual technical communication. The challenge is to telescope “awareness” of a rather broad concept down to how to transfer these behaviours once one goes back to work. We agreed this type of soft-skills training would best be conducted in a classroom to take advantage of the group dynamics. Please see the presentation here which I drafted to facilitate the session.

I used a few frameworks to discuss the idea of culture: The World Values Survey and Hofstede’s Dimensions of Culture. We explore a few typical scenarios at work to reflect on these models, and which dimensions seem to most impact communication. Then I rely heavily on inspiration from Richard D. Lewis’ classic book When Cultures Collide to talk about concrete behavioural differences in how people communicate. Again we talk about some scenarios. As a final exercise the learners are asked to reflect and share what concrete actions they can take away to their work.

My concern with this training is that it would be too “fluffy” for a group of technical experts. We reviewed it with a couple of them and they said the first part about what culture means was challenging to grasp, but otherwise they thought it would be helpful. One said it would even help his teammates to understand him a bit better! Unfortunately due to circumstances I wasn’t able to deliver this concept but maybe someday…



Well-being in a remote study context


Not exactly within a remote study context, but definitely important for well-being!

As part of a job application process, I was recently asked to prepare a one-hour training course about well-being in a remote study context. I was allowed to define the delivery method and course structure. Please see the presentation I crafted to facilitate the discussion.

I made some assumptions about the learners and that there would be the possibility to set up a social media group for the participants. I planned that this learning would be a virtual meeting using some tool with interactive features such as whiteboarding, pointing, etc. I used learning design techniques of Before-During-After, active learning, and constructive alignment to create a well-rounded session.

For the Before part of the session, I leveraged some tools I have found helpful in my own life to help make the session practical. First, a life balance assessment on, and two concepts about forming good habits from the book Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin. 

For the During part, I pondered the challenge of taking two rather large subjects (well-being + remote/distance learning?) and creating a practical takeaway from a one hour session. In my reading for school, I’ve been curious about why learners have challenges engaging with remote learning programmes. I explained some of those reasons and asked learners to think about what might be obstacles for them. The most-common reason is that the learner gets behind on coursework, gets discouraged, and decides they will never catch up. This means understanding one’s self, understanding the importance of well-being in life and developing some discipline and good habits are important. We talk about what type of habit-formers there are, and what type of strategies can be effective for forming habits.

After the session, learners have a follow-up assignment to reflect on what habits they want to form in terms of well-being and studying, and devise a strategy for how to do this over a week. They must post on the social media group and encourage each other. The instructor will ask for reflections after the first week and likely periodically as the group interacts with one another.

Picture courtesy of Pixabay.