Cross-Cultural Communication


Communicating effectively with people from different cultures is often a challenge, both for parties and for mediators or other intermediaries. Several Beyond Intractability participants comment on the types of errors that tend to be made, and what can be done to avoid them.

Typical Communication Errors

Kevin Avruch discusses two major types of errors peace practitioners make when trying to be sensitive to culture.
S.Y. Bowland describes how subtle racial or gender bias can lead to misunderstandings.
Suzanne Ghais discusses the challenge of working with parties that have disparate worldviews and very different styles of communication.
Will Reed recounts a cultural misunderstanding that he had with a group of Native American leaders.

Avoiding Communication Errors in Cross-cultural Situations

Kevin Avruch talks about ways intervenors can raise their cultural competency.
What should an outsider consider about local culture before intervening? Scholar-practitioner Wallace Warfield explains the debate between the basic human needs approach versus the cultural anthropological view.
Paul Wehr talks about the importance of "multi-modal," culturally-appropriate interventions.
Susan Dearborn talks about how mediators can increase transparency and build trust.
Silke Hansen discusses a situation in which language was a significant hindrance to the mediation process.