Consider cultural differences or risk causing offence

In a recent education session at IMEX 2016, MCI’s group learning and development director, Avinash Chandarana, challenged event professionals to start thinking more about cultural differences when planning their international events, something he says people don’t consider enough.

“Cultural differences are something we need to be more aware of in event planning,” he said.

“There’s a risk if we don’t take these into account, a risk that delegates won’t be able to become engaged, might misunderstand the content, and worst of all, they could be offended or made to feel uncomfortable.”

Chandarana stated that cultural nuances could change the preferred means of communication.

He said that while countries such as the US or Germany like to consider the speakers at their meetings as equals, and enjoy challenging them and talking an active part in the discussion, many Asian nations would find this rude, as they consider the speaker to be more of a guru who should be shown respect, and would listen carefully and reflect on the content afterwards.

Chandarana also cited an example of when he was giving a talk in Norway, and asked delegates to put up their hand to answer a question.

No-one responded, and when he asked one of the delegates why later, it emerged it was a subconscious decision, as in Norway it is more ingrained that you should not stand out from the crowd.

“It’s very important to build awareness of the variations in cultural nuances and think about how these differences play out in the meetings setting,” said Chandarana.

“Coach those responsible for speaking and meeting design, and talk to attendees from difference cultures to understand their expectations of what will engage them or disengage them at meetings.”

However, Chandarana also made it clear that cultural differences are only a frame of reference, and of course not everyone from one culture would appreciate the same tactics.

“It’s important to look at things from a personality and generational point of view as well,” he added. “Keep an open mind and be ready to adapt.”

Source : www.citmagazine.com

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