Communication with Foreign Co-Workers on Overseas Assignments

There is no doubt that we are globalizing ourselves and that we are more diverse than before. The United States has become a land of many cultures. Communication has become better through technology and the socialization of the human species. Yet, how can we prepare employees for an overseas assignment? This is something that can be seen in two ways, a structured plan for the assignment itself and the in-depth cultural communication factor.

In an article in the Harvard Business Review, Andy Molinsky and Melissa Hahn write that there are five ways one can succeed on an overseas assignment in a structured way.

  • Have a purpose and a person who can promote that purpose. Having the right person to make this assignment work is quite important, especially in cultural understanding and understanding of the project.
  • Having a close connection to home works well, that way the person overseas doesn’t lose touch with what he or she is doing for the company. A good mentor would work.
  • Communication between the worker and employer needs to be constant for best results.
  • Before leaving, it is ideal to start on talks of how the assignment was beneficial and what was learned.
  • The company can distribute what it learned from that experience.

We often forget that to have a successful assignment overseas, the communication between the employee and the foreign team is crucial. We need to consider cultural, social, and language barriers amongst diversity and work. There is no denying that “…English is now the global language of business.” as mentioned by Tsedel Neeley in her article Global Business Speaks English. But this doesn’t really help many. My interview with Dr. Joann Jones, Executive Director – Leadership Development for Cummins, led to these tips.

  • Prepare the assignment ahead of time so that everyone working on the assignment can understand the assignment.
  • Know that there will be a need for clarification as language and cultural barriers are present.
  • If possible, know the language and culture of where one may stay can improve results.
  • An ending follow-up on the assignment will be helpful, especially a written documentation of the progress and results. This may help clarify any miscommunications.

Making sure an overseas assignment is completely worked out is the main goal, but knowing the cultural factor and having a structured plan can lead to a successful assignment.

 

By Alvaro Garcia, Business Major – IUPUC

Miscommunication in the Workplace

I’m sure we can all relate to miscommunication with a boss or fellow employee at work. When this happens, processes could potentially fall behind or customers could become angry about not being properly attended to. Without having good communication skills in the workplace, it is hard to get things done in a timely manner. Proper communication is vital to a workplace running smoothly and efficiently.

There are many reasons behind miscommunication in the workplace. One of the main issues is language barriers. I have had bosses, as well as customers, who spoke a different language than I do and it is tough trying to figure out what they need and how to appropriately help them. It is nice having interpreters that can help, but the communication issue is still always there. Another really big reason behind the lack of communication is being given confusing information. For example, if my boss tells me to do something but I am not sure what she means, I might not get the process done as effectively as I would if I fully understood what needed to be done. Be sure to double check information with the person in charge to make sure it is correct.

Along with confusing information being given, there might also not be enough information being given. If there isn’t enough information given, the process might not get completed all the way. My boss has left out some information when giving me a project to do and I had to go back and redo some of it and it is just frustrating. Be sure to get all of the information out in a timely manner to the person doing the job in order for the job to get completed properly.

There might also be miscommunication between employees. When talking to a coworker, people need to be sure to not put it in a way for the other person to misinterpret what is trying to be said. Be sure to have a clear understanding of the point you are trying to get across before sharing it with someone. Some employees have trouble listening to their leaders. If employees don’t fully listen to what their bosses are telling them to do, they won’t efficiently get the job done.

Another big issue in the workplace is mixing personal lives with professional lives. People need to be sure to leave their personal lives at home before coming to work. There is no reason for everyone to know what is going on with you outside of work, unless you feel the need to talk to human resources. Bringing personal lives into the workplace takes the mind off of the job you are doing, causing mistakes to happen and sometimes those mistakes could cost you your job.

Having negative attitudes in the workplace could cause miscommunication to occur. There could be two employees that do not get along, creating communication issues. There could also be an employee that doesn’t particularly care for their job, causing them to not listen to direction as much as others. Negative attitudes could cause the workplace to be a hostile environment, which could lead to other problems in the future.

Having effective communication in a workplace is an essential part of getting the job done that is needed. If there are communication issues, the workplace could have meetings to talk about them and fix them to the best of their abilities. It is a good idea to talk about things that are going wrong so that it won’t be an issue in the future and things will fun more efficiently and smoothly. Good communication leads to effective productivity, which leads to happy managers and employees.

By: Taylor Bray, Accounting major at IUPUC

The Rise and Fall of Paula Deen – the power of words then and now.

Who doesn’t love some good ole down home cookin’? To most of us Paula Deen in not an unfamiliar name. We’ve all heard that sweet southern mama in our TV’s sharing her secrets to her delicious food. Just recently the southern bell fell from her grace. One word a long time ago caused this women who was arguably one of the most well know TV chef to lose her empire she worked so long to build.
Being born and raised in the south during a time with segregation, the “N” word was not such a big deal. The power of words back then did not carry the same weight they do today. The “N” word said today by someone with such high notoriety would be ground shaking, 60 years ago, that was not the case.
Slang changes with time just as fads and fashion. In the early to mid-1900’s the words that were considered to be slang are now considered to be offensive terms used to degrade people of different backgrounds. Words have always had a tremendous power. Context and perception dictate what kind of power a word does or does not have.
When it comes to words that are offensive they have changed dramatically over time. These changes happen as peoples societal positions change. In the mid 1900’s where Paula Deen had been brought up African Americans were not considered equal in the eye of society, especially in the south. Referring to someone as an “N” word would be the same as today saying someone was “black”. It may not be politically correct but it was not necessarily offensive.
Today that is not the case. People have realized that all colors, races, religions are equal and we pride ourselves on being a free and equal opportunity nation. Everyone being equal and having these rights has caused a hypersensitivity to language.
There is such a diverse culture today that it is hard to tell what may or may not offend someone of a specific color, nationality, religion, or background. The nation has evolved and there are some definite words that are known to not be acceptable such as the “n” word, but there are many that are in a grey area.
Paula Deen has apologized and said many times that she thinks everyone is equal. This for many is not enough, in today’s society people find words to be extremely powerful. We as a new generation must realize that words can, and many times will come back and haunt you.
So for you Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram addicts remember you may not have a fortune to loose and Paula Deen did, but people are watching, so choose your words wisely!

Miscommunication That Can Lead to Malpractice in Hospitals

Did you know that the leading cause for malpractice in hospitals is miscommunication?

According to the research that I have done, there are five key risk factors as to why miscommunication can happen in hospitals; Culture/ Ethnicity, Beliefs, Literacy, and Gender.

Culture and Ethnicity are major reasons why there is miscommunication in hospitals. “In 2008, according to the U.S. Census, nearly 20% of people living in the United States spoke a different language.” (Quan. Introduction) Though, that does not seem like a lot of people, think of how many people speak a foreign language in today’s world. This is a problem for hospitals and medical professionals because there is a language barrier between the two. If you have a Spanish speaking patient, and an English speaking doctor, chances are there is going to be some type of miscommunication. This is where it is necessary for hospitals to have language translators. Whether it be the medical staff learning the major languages that are in the United States, or by hiring immigrants who know English well enough that the medical staff can understand what the patient needs or wants.

Socioeconomics is another risk for miscommunication in hospitals that can cause malpractice. A patient’s beliefs can determine what a doctor can and cannot do for them. Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe in blood transfusions, this can cause a lot of miscommunication and misunderstanding for hospital staff. Even if it means, letting them die, the doctor has to respect the patient’s beliefs. Ways that this can be dealt with is for the doctor to understand the culture itself. If the doctor is trying to give the patient something they do not believe in, that is going against who they are. Medical staff should always be understanding and caring even if what the patient believes in hurts them more than helps.

Does every patient understand medical terms? More than likely, absolutely not. If every patient understood medical terms, they would not receive a prescription, and wonder, “Now, what’s this for?” This is where miscommunication falls into place. When patients do not know their medical terminology, and do not ask the doctor questions when it is appropriate, things can get sticky. Not knowing what you are taking, can hurt you rather than help. A solution for this maybe to require students in high school to take classes to understand these words. An etymology class would be great for this. Advisors at my high school suggested this class for students who planned on going into the medical field.

Many people do not understand that there is a difference between sex and gender. Sex refers to biological, or what you are born with. Such as, your external sex organs. Gender is the characteristics that a society or culture defines as masculine of feminine. When a patient is a male, but dresses as a female, this can cause miscommunication between the patient and staff. One, they do not know what to call this patient. And, if they did not know what sex the patient was and gave him a medicine they would typically give a female, this can lead to a problem. In order to understand these kinds of people, is to actually get to know them before prescribing them medicine. Even if the patient checked off on the patient form that he was a she, it is still important to figure out who the doctor is really dealing with.

All of the things that I have talked about lead to the malpractice if miscommunicated. My suggestions will hopefully, one day, be a thing in the past and we will not have to worry about miscommunication between patients and medical staff.

Works Cited Page

http://www.hhnmag.com/hhnmag/jsp/articledisplay.jsp?dcrpath=HHNMAG/PubsNewsArticle/data/2006August/0608HHN_gatefold&domain=HHNMAG

http://www.med.monash.edu.au/gendermed/sexandgender.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jehovah’s_Witnesses_and_blood_transfusions

https://www.ecri.org/Forms/Documents/Communication.pdf

http://healthlaw.org/images/stories/High_Costs_of_Language_Barriers_in_Malpractice.pdf

Baby Boomers vs. Generation Y

Who are the Baby Boomers and Generation Y? The Baby Boomer generation is anyone born between the years 1946 and 1964, while Generation Y is anyone born between the years of 1982 and 2004. These two generations have many differences and similarities between them.

There are many differences between the Baby Boomers and Generation Y.  Some of the differences are: their work habits, doing what they are told, accepting what they have, punishment, attention spans, trust in others, and many more. Baby Boomers have a better work habit than Generation Y. This is because people in Generation Y feel they are entitled to everything, while Baby Boomers work for everything they have. Baby Boomers are independent about how they live their lives. They don’t want to depend on others for support, since that is how they were raised by the generation before them. Generation Y does not work hard to get what they want; they believe it should be handed to them. Baby Boomers also live with what they have, while Generation Y wants more. Baby Boomers work hard for what they do have and they are content with it. They realize if they want more in life they will have to work hard to get it. Generation Y does not feel the same way, since they feel like they are entitled to things and they always want more. As they want more though, they are not willing to work any harder to get it.

Another way Baby Boomers are different from Generation Y is how they act. Baby Boomers are more willing to do what they are told. They do not act outside of the law or societal norms. This may happen because of how they were punished. If a Baby Boomer did something wrong their punishment was normally some sort of beating (slapped on the bottom, hand, or mouth). This type of punishment taught them not to act out, since it only took once or twice of being slapped to realize it was not good to do that. Generation Y punishments consist of being sent to timeout. This type of punishment allows them to push the limits more and more, which does not allow them to learn from their mistakes. This causes them to be more rebellious. Since there is no real punishment they will act out more than the Baby Boomer. When protesting against something, Baby Boomers are more proactive. They will go stand on the street or march for what they believe in. Generation Y tends to use the media to protest, by updating statuses or using Twitter.

The Baby Boomers are more trusting than Generation Y. An example of this is meeting someone at a certain location at a certain time. When a Baby Boomer makes plans to be somewhere, they arrive on time, if not early. Persons of Generation Y tend to be late. This is mostly due to the extensive use of cell phones. Baby Boomers did not have cell phones when they were growing up, so when they said to meet somewhere at certain time, they had to be there. Nowadays when a person is running late, all they have to do is text or call someone to make last minute changes. This is making trust less important to Generation Y. Dating has also changed between the Baby Boomer generation and Generation Y. When Baby Boomers met someone it was in person. Now Generation can meet someone on the internet, through social media.

While the Baby Boomers and Generation Y are different in many ways, they are also similar.  It may not seem like Baby Boomers are tech-savvy, but they are learning how to use the new technology that is out today. Generation Y has an advantage of growing up with some of the new technology, but the Baby Boomers have taken the time to learn how to use it. Baby Boomers and Generation Y are also similar in saving money. They both understand the value of having money saved to help pay off debt, or to have money for the future. The Baby Boomers as well as Generation Y are also inventors and entrepreneurs. There are as many things being invented today as there were in the late 40’s and early 60’s. This is one thing that will always be the same between the generations.

While there are many differences between the Baby Boomers and Generation Y, there are also similarities as well. Some of the Baby Boomers are the parents of Generation Y children, so their own values and teachings will rub off on their children.  As times change though, so do the ways a person lives; this is why we have many differences and only a few similarities throughout the different generations. This continual change makes one think what the future generations will be like.

By: Randall Eckelman, Business Major-IUPUC.

Work Cited:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jim-finkelstein/are-millennials-from-merc_b_3598578.html

http://elitedaily.com/life/the-20-differences-between-the-baby-boomers-and-generation-y/

What you said and what I heard.

What you said… What I heard.

Your non-verbal communication could be the reason you are not getting the job of your dreams or the promotion you really deserve.  Some of the number one reasons companies are not or will not hire you is not because of what you say verbally but what your non-verbal communication is saying about you. Some of the top reasons are piercings, bad breath, visible tattoos, wrinkled clothes, and messy hair according to Forbes magazine.

  • Piercings: 37%                                                                
  • Bad breath: 34%                                                                            
  • Visible tattoos: 31%     

But how far will employers go? For example American Apparel’s corporate policy states that shiny lip gloss and bangs are forbidden as well as over drying hair may cause excessive drying. Yet most companies don’t have a written policy on tattoos and piercings. Tattoos have come a long way from when they were only on felons and bikers. Today it is just as likely for Robin to have a tattoo as it is for me.  Roughly 24 percent of Americans ages 18 – 50 have at least one tattoo.

Although a tattoo may represent a fond memory, your personality, or that one crazy night in Vegas, they are nothing more than a body adornment just like a wedding ring or even the clothes you wear. They also project just as much non-verbal communication as the tone of your voice. Your voice can clearly let another person know what kind of mood you are in, if you are comfortable, or if you have a bad attitude. Same can be said for your tattoos and piercings. They could be misconstrued as negative simply because the tattoos could be misinterpreted.  An example is a petunia tattoo, a petunia in the flower world stands for anger and resentment. There are also Hindu tattoos such as a swastika. A swastika can easily be mistaken for having Nazi beliefs as opposed to a very common form of Hindu art meaning good fortune, luck and well-being.  The problem is most companies do not know what you are projecting with piercings and tattoos since they can be easily misunderstood.

An employer’s main concern is how to cover up the tattoos or sometimes will just write the potential employees off because of their tattoos. Companies may not be realizing that they could be missing out on the next best thing since sliced bread because of how they are interpreting the tattoo or piercing.  Be aware of what your non-verbal communication is saying about you. You may not get fired for having a tattoo but you also may not get hired.  As always, think before you ink.

Cites: Faw, Larissa. Visible Tattoos and Other Corporate No-Nos. ForbesWoman. Forbes.com. September 25,2011

By: Natalie Taylor

Real World Examples of Groupthink and the Consequences

 

First, what is Groupthink?

Groupthink was discovered as an undesirable by-product of group cohesiveness by a psychologist named Irving Janis. He further defined groupthink as a “mode of thinking that people engage in when they are deeply involved in a cohesive in-group, when the members’ striving for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action.”

What are the symptoms of Groupthink?

Excessive Optimism                                      Assumptions of Inherent Morality

Suppression of Dissent                                 Desperate Quests for Unanimity

Stereotyping                                                  Rationalizing

  • These symptoms create a decision-making climate where the probability of making a poor decision is very high.

Real World Examples and Their Consequences

Corporate

Swissair’s Collapse: Thought to be so financially stable that people referred to it as the “Flying Bank.” Poor decision-making processes eventually led to its collapse.

Symptoms: The belief that the group is invulnerable and the belief in the morality of the group.

Lack of expertise, similar backgrounds / norms and pressure to conform were also present.

Consequences: Collapse of Swissair

Political

Vietnam: Groupthink is believed to be main reason for the war. Strategic advisors in 3 successive administrations rubber-stamped battle plans laced with false assumptions.

Symptoms: Groupthink prevented contradictory views to the war from being expressed and subsequently evaluated.

Consequences: 58,220 United States servicemen died.

Newly studied areas of groupthink outside of Politics and Business where symptoms were present.

Sports

Major League Umpire Association: In 1999, the Major League Baseball Association staged a mass resignation in a failed attempt to gain a stronger negotiating stance.

Symptoms: The umpires overestimated the power that they had over the baseball league and the strength of their group’s resolve. There was the presence of self-censorship; some umpires who disagreed with the decision to resign failed to voice their dissent.

Consequences: Failed strategy, Major League Baseball accepted their resignations, 22 umpires were out of jobs and eventually replaced.

Groupthink Consequences and Preventing Them

Previous examples show how groupthink can have devastating consequences. In some cases, thousands of lost lives have been associated with it.

How can we prevent groupthink?

According to Irving Janis, there are some things we can do to improve decision quality in cohesive groups but groupthink will always be a threat.

Most Important: Group members must always ask, “Are we allowing ourselves to become victims of groupthink?”

                Fundamental prevention measures:

  1. Avoid the use of groups to rubber-stamp decisions.
  2. Urge each group member to be a critical evaluator.
  3. Bring in outside experts for fresh perspectives.
  4. Assign someone the role of challenging assumptions.
  5. Take time to consider possible consequences of action.

References:

Kreitner, Robert. Management. Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning, 2009. Book.

By David Rice, Business (Computer Information Systems) Major-Indiana University Purdue University Columbus

Differences in Men and Women Communication Styles

It’s no secret that men and women communicate differently.  But have you ever done research on the difference between the two?  Most people have not, they just make generalizations about ALL women or about ALL men (we all are guilty of this at one time or another).  But with the number of women in the workplace growing significantly, more and more people are studying communication techniques used by each gender.   I had not done any actual research until recently and I found some interesting discoveries.

For women, talk is the essence of intimacy.  Women define friends as someone you can sit down and share problems with, get advice, give support and connect with.  While men define friends as someone you can do activities with.  Going golfing, working on a truck, hunting, talking about sports or business is how a man communicates or connects with someone.  Women create the feeling of closeness by talking, hence the reason the woman is always trying to talk to her man.  The men do not connect like this and therefore, are left confused of why she is always talking!  This is also the culprit for a common misunderstanding about women:  women go to their man about their problem, whether it is work, girlfriend, money, or family problems, they want to discuss the situation.  Well, when a woman goes to a man with a problem, the man automatically thinks she is looking for advice or a solution to her problem.  Consequently, the man gives a solution and wants the conversation to end.  However, that was not what they lady was looking for.  She probably will not act on his solution and try to talk to him again. This leads to the common generalization that “all women do is complain and they do not want to take action or do anything about it,” when the whole time she was just trying to connect with her man by sharing her problems.

One of my more interesting discoveries was the idea of the pecking order in nature.  A male’s (animal or human) ultimate goal is to be able to mate with the chosen one.  To be able to do this, they must make their way to the top of the pecking order.  Once they are at the top they need to stay up there and keep their social status high.  I went on to discover this reason plays a part in the male denying the woman simple help.  To get to the top of the pecking order he must give orders to men lower than him and when a woman asks a man to do a simple task he feels as though he has lost his status in their relationship.  This leads me to the point that men communicate more in public whereas women communicate more at home in a private area.  This makes sense because it is important for the male to make his presence known in public but not so important to do so in the privacy of his home.

Personally I believe some of the research but at the same time I believe the way people communicate strongly depends on how they were raised.  Did the person have any siblings? Were they brothers or sisters?  Where did this person fall in the order of children, were they the oldest, middle or the youngest?  Were both parents around while the child was growing up?  Did the parents encourage the kids to express their feelings and thoughts?  With that said I believe everyone is different and going to communicate differently.  Some simple advice for men and women trying to understand or figure out the opposite sex and their way of communicating:  do not try it!  Men and women are wired differently and therefore, will communicate differently.  Women communicate to connect, while men communicate to compete.  The world of communication would be boring if we all communicated the same, embrace the difference.  Do not try to change the style of communication the other gender uses, but instead learn how to adapt to that style.

By Katelin Hehe, Business Major -IUPUC

To Pay or Not to Pay – Overseas Business Ethics and the Reality of Bribery

Bribery

       I recall vividly the global climate of suspense and worry at the end of the Cold War.  Despite being nestled in my high school melodrama in a small Midwestern city, I was nevertheless exposed to terms of “corruption” and “bribery” as it related to the new global business landscape.  Every media type reported on the cost of blue jeans and American music in the new Russia.  When the superpower that was the Soviet Union fell, the creation of new governments and new business opportunities brought the reality of the cost of bribery home.

        The U.S. government had been actively involved in the reduction of foreign corruption in business practices since the passage of the Foreign Corrupt Policies Act of 1977.  This legislation put in punitive measures for companies operating in the United States.  This put US manufacturers at a competitive disadvantage in the global marketplace where they were competing with countries and companies without such restrictions.  Even if restrictions were in place, most governments around the world were hard-pressed to enforce them due to the nature of the practice as well as the financial backing of such enforcement.  It became quickly evident that this could only be combated on a global scale, with corporations, governments and civilians working together.

The escalation of the problem following the Cold War finally brought in support from 35 other industrialized nations in 1988 with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Convention (aka Bribery convention).  This brought many trading nations together for the purpose of transparent evaluations of each other’s policies in regards to business corruption and successfully prosecuting those who do not comply with fair business standards.   This program has been hampered with the problems of the lack of finance, transparency, and political and social climates of participating countries.  Also, China and India are not signatory to the convention, so fall outside of its parameters.  These two economic powerhouses still include opportunities for bribery with officials making lower wages and lax enforcement.

What this means for the average consumer is that the costs associated with bribery and corruption would be considered the cost of goods sold.  Companies that engage in these practices gain an unfair advantage over those who do not.  Certainly not all of the “bad” companies are bringing forth products that are entirely beneficial to society.  I’m certain most will recall the lead paint in Chinese toys attempting to spoil last year’s Christmas season.  As more information becomes readily available for consumers, the good economic citizen would take care in discovering where the goods they are purchasing are coming from.  Is that company one with integrity and a realistic approach to fight corruption?  Is it a company that ships in containers full of “who-knows”?  National security issues aside, you pay for the corrupt practices in every purchase you make whether it is in taxes that go to help ferret it out and prosecute it, or in the bottom line price of that “must-have” toy of the year, imported by the boatload from countries that could care less about it’s safety or what laws are broken to get it there.

by Joe Hemmelgarn, Business Major – IUPUC

Baby Boomers and Today’s High School Graduates

            With the younger generations and the baby boomer generations mixing in the work force it is important that each generation contributes and learns from one another. The younger generation will be able to know and understand the newer technology and techniques that they have learned from school. The older generation can teach the new comers from their years of experience on how the business world operates with the competing companies and what it takes to be successful. It is important that they both learn from each other so that the company they work for can be successful. For a company to be successful in today’s competitive market requires them to stay up to date with the changes in the world, and at the same time to have employees from each generation work together to combine the best of the new with the proven successes of the past.  A person that is coming out of high school will know and understand the newer versions of how grammar has change. They will also, be able to understand how the newer technology, how it works and how the internet is used as a resource much better than the older generations.  As the baby boomers are coming to retirement ages they can show the new generations of their experience at work. They can also show how to handle certain ethics and situations that have come up in the past in their line of business. In certain careers there will be a certain way of how an employee needs to handle information and distribute that information. Sometimes a work place needs to find out how the world has change the way that the process in APA and MLA has change. Other times you learn that the business likes how the old way was and you learn from the older employees that stay with older styles of MLA and APA. The main reason is that you want to keep up with the way the business and the people in that career field are most comfortable in. If the business wants to keep up with the changes of the world then the baby boomers will learn from them. If the business feels comfortable with the old style then the new and young generation will relearn how the old style was from the baby boomers. Each generation has something to offer, which can make a business a greater success.

By Jared Parsons

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