chapter  9
37 Pages

Effective Cross-Cultural Meetings

Since the beginning of human existence, people have been meeting in diads, triads, and small groups to exchange ideas, to plan, and to learn together. Our species has moved from the aboriginal village meeting house to the New England town meeting, from parliamentary convocations to United Nations assemblies. Arriving at a consensus through meetings has become the essence of the democratic process worldwide. In this Information Age, such meetings can occur face-to-face in limited numbers as in a team, or in large conventions as in an industry conference. Furthermore, the prospects have been enhanced by electronic meetings in which we move our brains instead of our bodies. Increasingly, these meetings involve cross-cultural encounters-people from different nationalities or places of origins, from different disciplines or fields of expertise, from different classes or levels of societies. Even with a common language for the meeting, such as English, participants differ in the skill and usage of that language because they speak American or British forms of English, or because English is a second language rather than their native tongue, or because they speak a dialect, such as Black English or "Spanglish."