Workshop "Intercultural Communication"

Workshop "Introduction to Intercultural Communication" by Alexia Petersen, M.A. in the MAINZ Seminar room (03-122) at Staudinger Weg 9, Mainz

Aim and content of the workshop:

● Provide a knowledge base of cultural differences and their impact on typical cross-cultural

communication behaviour (framework for transparency)

● Provide tools for identifying and solving intercultural communication problems (workable


● Guide participants in transferring a conceptual understanding of cultural differences into

effective intercultural communication skills (applications training)

The increasingly international and multicultural demographics in the academic and scientific workplace mean that students are faced with having to be more interculturally skilled and proactive when interacting in teams with other students, or with supervisors and professors, who can approach work and supervision in unexpectedly very different ways.

Using authentic complex case studies and scenarios, Part 1 of the seminar will establish the conceptual foundations that underlie the main communication styles that play out in crosscultural work cultures. Through different frameworks of cultural rationale and expectations students learn to identify likely culture-based conflict interfaces, as well as to appreciate the risks and potentials inherent in different work cultures. This is the key step in structuring knowledge for use in applications, enabling a critical “paradigm shift” in devising new strategies in key work scenarios such as conducting meetings, managing conflict, requesting and providing information, optimising multicultural teams, and providing motivational leadership. In particular, the workshop approaches these scenarios from the perspectives of the doctoral student working with other students and team members, and with his or her team leader or supervisor, to ultimately draw together the necessary tools required for effective cross-cultural work in international teams, conflict management, and leadership skills. Whether students are presently in leadership positions or simply often called upon to exercise leadership abilities, sensitivity and skill in handling the cultural context of teamwork is a key component to harnessing and synergising the multicultural work potential.

Having established these foundations and defining the conceptual “Red Thread”, Part 2 focusses on their application in various work scenarios. Case study work enables students to practise “paradigm shifting” in their assessment of conflicts and misunderstandings in the communication and problem-solving process from different perspectives across cultural and status divides. Another major application here explores the manifestation of cross-cultural conflicts on the language level, and how using language to create psychological space and “facework” is a key leadership skill in managing conflict, motivating teamwork, and solving concrete problems. We therefore isolate the hidden conflicts in the so-called “international English”; how, for example, the characteristic features of “German-English” typically lead to misunderstanding or conflict with“English-English” or “Japanese-English”, etc., regardless of technical language ability and a common scientific vocabulary. This important component, therefore, both extends and completes the conceptual framework developed through the seminar.