Intercultural communication has been my personal and professional focus for many years. Since 1992 I have been working in various professional contexts with culture and the communication of culture-specific communication patterns. Through my experience with different languages as a teacher, in project management, as a project coach and lecturer, I can perceive and analyse communication difficulties professionally from different points of view.
Anyone who deals with the topic of interculturality will want to know, “what is culture anyway? And which concept of culture makes sense at all?” I assume that cultures are dynamic and that people can meet each other in such a way that they negotiate a common (partial) culture together. The question is, how to make that work – and this is developed individually with you based on your needs. It may be that we move back and forth in our conversations and reflect on what behavior or expectation comes from which culture (perceived as a unit) and how we can use these perceptions in such a way that you can reach your goals and go your way with a lot of joy and strength.
I have developed my own approach to culturally sensitive communication and I very clearly distinguish it from "cultural knowledge" and "cultural identity". I am interested in the development of personal competencies that lead to a constructive cooperation even when specific cultural knowledge is lacking (for no one ever has “enough knowledge”). I am also concerned that people who, like me, have grown up in a majority culture as members of a minority culture, should be able to cope well with the associated challenges on a personal level.
Direct or indirect type? To me, there are two types of communication: one type communicates more directly and clearly states what they need and want. The other type communicates more indirectly, putting things delicately and in a roundabout way.
In research on specific cultural regions, different cultures are assigned these communicative preferences. Perhaps a small side note to differentiate: many women find that men communicate much more directly - and yes, there is research on this, but that would be gender-specific psychotherapy or coaching.
Most people are unaware how these cultural influences impact them. They only become consciously aware that certain behaviour is very disturbing and hurtful, and "what is appropriate for us" may differ from "what is appropriate for them". And the reactions to these perceptions occur following the patterns learned and practiced since childhood.
Understanding and dealing with the needs of the other type of communicator is the be-all and end-all of intercultural issues. This is because these experiences have an impact on both teamwork and conflict behaviour in couples, and even on self-esteem when people do not really feel understood.
In addition, in some cultural areas you grow up with different ideas of family and individuality. My main focus in this work is to feel the effects without asking "inquisitorial" questions, or to ask appropriate questions at the appropriate moments. The individuation process is simply very different for individuals in minority cultures than for people who have grown up in the majority culture as members of an individualistic society. In many cases, these culture-specific experiences effect self-expression, decision-making processes, leadership issues and team competencies. Understanding the family context, the effect on self-esteem and personal decision-making to me are among the key topics in intercultural support, both in coaching and in therapy.