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Introduction: Conflict Background
Working in a diverse environment is an exciting and inspiring yet admittedly difficult task. The lack of experience in conversing with the members of other cultures may easily lead to the development of a misunderstanding that will, later on, become a cross-cultural conflict. Although the conflict to be described below was technically caused by the lack of contact and agreement between the participants, the actual reason for the problem to have taken place was the difference between the cultural characteristics of the participants.
The conflict under analysis was sparked among the members of a multicultural team operating in the food industry in 2017. While partnering with the members of an Australian organization in an attempt to work on a new concept of a product, the members of the American organization started identifying a peculiar pattern. In the course of communication, most of the Australian team members avoided direct eye contact, which their American colleagues immediately assumed was an attempt to conceal certain information.
As a result, mistrust was planted in their relationship, although the problem was rooted in the specifics of the Australian culture. Particularly, direct eye contact is regarded as impolite in the Australian culture (Cunningham and Turnbull 23).
Conflict Analysis: Co-Cultural Theory
From the perspective of the Co-Cultural Theory (CCT), the specified phenomenon can be seen as a result of the elements of a dominant culture affecting the quality of the conversation. Particularly, based on the principles of the CCT, the White culture currently dominates the social, economic, political, and cultural landscape of the U.S. (Castle et al. 22).
Thus, when establishing a connection with the members of the Australian culture, the team members from the specified organization took the issue of language, and especially the language of nonverbal communication, for granted. By applying the principles of their dominant culture and dismissing the possibility of any other interpretation of the identified nonverbal elements (particularly, the eye contact), the team members from our company failed to develop a bond with their Australian colleagues (Han and Price 29).
Conflict Analysis: Dominant Group Theory
Approaching the issue from the perspective of the Dominant Group Theory (DGT), one should keep in mind that the specified framework helps determine the role of the dominant group in the conflict (Sterzing et al. 85). Particularly, when applying the framework to the conflict described above, one must admit that the introduction of a negotiation strategy based on the principles of multiculturalism and compromise would have helped resolve the crisis (Ladson-Billings and Tate 31).
Particularly, the members of the dominant culture should have focused on the active use of the communication tools that would help them gain a better understanding of the verbal and nonverbal communication elements that would seem as inappropriate in the specified context. Instead, the participants of the communication process that were related to the dominant culture preferred to use a more aggressive approach toward handling the communication process, which ultimately resulted in a failure (Orbe and Batten 26).
Conclusion: A Look Back at the Conflict
When establishing a multicultural dialogue, one must keep in mind cultural differences that may lead to a cross-cultural conflict. The representatives of the dominant culture should be especially careful in the choice of communication tools. Furthermore, an in-depth analysis of the needs of the target population must be conducted. The comparison of the communication specifics of both parties and the identification of the strategies that will allow for an efficient conversation must be deemed essential. As a result, communication goals will be achieved.
Castle, Gina B., et al. “From ‘Laying the Foundations’ to Building the House: Extending Orbe’s Co-Cultural Theory to Include “Rationalization” as a Formal Strategy.” Communication Studies, vol. 66, no. 1, 2015, pp. 1-26.
Cunningham, Stuart, and Sue Turnbull. The Media and Communications in Australia. Allen & Unwin, 2014.
Han, Eun-Jeong, and Paula Groves Price. “Communicating across Difference: Co-Cultural Theory, Capital and Multicultural Families in Korea.” Journal of International and Intercultural Communication, vol. 11, no. 1, 2018, pp. 21-41.
Ladson-Billings, Gloria, and William F. Tate. “Toward a Critical Race Theory of Education.” Teachers College Record, vol. 97, no. 1, 1995, pp. 21-41.
Orbe, Mark P., and Colin J. Batten. “Diverse Dominant Group Responses to Contemporary Co-Cultural Concerns: US Intergroup Dynamics in the Trump Era.” Journal of Contemporary Rhetoric, vol. 7, no. 1, 2017, pp. 19-33.
Sterzing, Paul R., et al. “Sexual Orientation, Gender, and Gender Identity Microaggressions: Toward an Intersectional Framework for Social Work Research.” Journal of Ethnic & Cultural Diversity in Social Work, vol. 26, no. 1-2, 2017, pp. 81-94.