Read the extract below and answer the questions that follow:
Intercultural communication in South African organisations
Although the obstacles to communication and cooperation between the widely divergent groups in South Africa is formidable, there is a genuine desire to live together peacefully in our common fatherland.
Intercultural contact in the South African labour situation is a very complex phenomenon but is important because this is virtually the only area of South African society in which Black and White in particular, come into close contact with one another.
Typical intercultural problem areas in the organisation are: cultural differences, differing circumstances of life, system defects and grievances, high potential for conflict, and other communication stumbling blocks.
The essential conditions for intercultural communication are availability, willingness and purpose, to which the following aspects can be added: continuing communication; creation of common ground; adoption of the right attitude and creation of trust; visualisation of a common purpose; knowledge of the other, knowledge of the other’s language; training; use of the right communication channels; knowing how to deal with trade unions, work committees, etc.; good supervision; consideration of unique needs and expectations; and other hints, most of which have basically to do with sensitivity and just good manners.
South Africans have to cope with unique challenges and therefore will have to envisage and develop an indigenous South African organisational style in which the best both cultures have to offer, are accommodated.
Adapted from: http://www.tandfonline.com accessed 8 January 2018
With regard to the above extract, it can be noted that the issue of intercultural communication is of paramount importance. Using the information from the extract and relevant theory and practical examples explain why an understanding of cultural differences is important for business people today.
A Conflict between 2 Co-workers Leads to an Absentee Employee
An employee was absent from work for several weeks following an incident between her and other staff members. She shared an office, workstation, and a computer with another employee. On this occasion, an employee returned to the office to find her co-worker sitting at the computer with a group of his friends (coworkers) in the office. She asked him to give her access to the computer, but something in her to tone offended him and he responded in a way that offended her as well.
There were cultural and racial differences involved, and underlying disagreements about work ethics and competencies. In addition, the employee felt excluded and ostracized by her colleague and his group of friends in the workplace. There was an expectation that they work closely together to deliver a program jointly, but they were unable to do this and this was stressful for her. This led to her absenteeism.
The Mediation Process:
Two separate mediation sessions were held between the absentee employee and two of her colleagues. Issues were clarified and discussed on both sides.
In the first mediation session an apology was offered, and the result was satisfactory to both parties. Although not all the issues were resolved in the 2nd mediation due to time restraints, it did lead to the employee’s return to work.
2.1 Describe the type of interpersonal relationship that existed between the employee and her coworkers. Give reasons for your answer. (15)
2.2 In your opinion explain how the cultural and racial differences impacted on effective communication. (5)
2.3. What solutions can you offer to improve intercultural communication in the office? (5)
2.4 Identify the different types of conflict and explain in which category the above situation will fit.