This one-minute coaching lesson relates to multi-cultural communications in meetings. (Culture can mean generation, gender, personality, experience or professional background as well as national origin, language etc.)
Meetings are often use a lot of time and create frustration, yet do not improve communication.
You can prepare for international meetings, and get the best from multi-cultural team meetings. Use all meetings to you consider how ALL your team members are different in many ways.
They process information differently. They have different decision-making processes. You can practice working across differentness with your normal team, in your office, today.
For instance: If you want shorter meetings, focused contributions and better post-meeting results, consider how your team’s different brains process information.
Symptoms of different styles of information processing:
- People ‘zone out’, disengage, have mini-meetings, or constantly check their cell-phones.
- Discussion is repetitive, or people circle around a topic, without getting the big picture and the parts in perspective.
- Discussions lack innovative thinking or higher-level problem solving.
- Meetings don’t result in reliable, group-wide execution.
Differentness is not only national, cultural or a language issue. Your meeting participants process information.
- Visual information processing types may ‘zone out’ during verbal presentations or discussions. Information goes “in one ear and out the other,” and you may even see ‘meeting amnesia’ (“I don’t remember discussing that!”).
- Auditory types may stare at graphs and charts and retain little, or gain almost nothing from elaborate PowerPoints.
- The mixed visual-kinesthetic type may loathe long discussion-style meetings so much that s/he simply does not attend them.
Solutions: Encourage everyone to know the way they process information. If training is not available, people can begin by using some of the many free tests that show dominant preferences for information processing.
Encourage people to share their profiles with others. For instance, if Person A knows that Person B needs to see information to understand or remember it, their communication is going to improve enormously.
- Strong auditory processors may be comfortable with traditional verbal discussions, but the majority of adults prefer visual information.
- Strong kinesthetic processors often have a secondary visual preference, and tend to think better when doodling, taking notes or fiddling with stress toys.
- When material is complex, with many streams of information, nearly everyone needs at least some visual tools.
- If a meeting is not coming together, it’s a good investment of time to stop and discuss the process, and ask how information processing channels can be improved.
Accommodating Differentness: Strategies:
- Every meeting needs a white board or flip chart, with multiple colored markers.
- Invite one or two people to act as scribes. This is good job for kinesthetic thinkers (some hate sitting), but encourage everyone to draw or write up contributions.
- Ikea, Amazon etc have green, inexpensive recycled-paper easel pads. These don’t have to be vertical – place some flat on the conference table for people to draw mind-maps, representations of problems, solutions and processes.
- Auditory and kinesthetic processors don’t read 15 pages of meeting notes. Train people to write executive summaries.
- Kinesthetics like meeting toys. Invest in some fidget/stress toys. My personal recommendation: rainbow springs.
- Skype, video-conferencing, scanners or digital cameras allow easy sharing with other visual team members. If you are using these, use dark Sharpies, not mechanical pencils. They show up on camera.
Next: More multi-cultural communications: innovation, problem-solving and diverse viewpoints. Better execution after communication.
CPS’s team members are experts in critical and logical thinking, and skilled in international and multi-cultural business issues. Call us for interactive, affordable and customized solutions for business training and consulting needs.