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Wednesday, 17 July 2013 16:29

Cultural sensitivity - care with words

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I have worked in over 10 different quite varied countries in Europe, Asia, North America and Australasia. I have travelled in many more. I have friends all over the world. I am also a change management professional. Bring all this together and I tend to think I am fairly aware of cultural sensitivities in different environments.

It came as a surprise to me, when someone who has read and praised a few of my articles and who forwards them on in his country, told me he could not share one of my articles. His view was that it would cause all sorts of cultural issues. The specifics don't matter - but let outline the issues. I had used one everyday English word that would not normally be regarded as offensive - he advised me the word was highly suspect in his country. I also made an analogy between organizational change and something else, which he also advised me could cause issues.(The article is in my library of articles on this site). He knows the culture far better than me, so I could only support his decision and thank myself I knew someone with better sensitivity than me! 

The lesson is simple - never assume you understand another country fully. If you an unsure when writing for or presenting to people from another culture, try to take some advice: it's often easier to cause offence than expected! 

Read 16114 times Last modified on Sunday, 22 September 2013 21:59
Richard Newton

Richard Newton wears many hats. Included amongst these are his work as a consultant, author, blogger, change leader, company director, and program manager. His most well known project management book is The Project Manager: Mastering the Art of Delivery. He is also the author of the best-selling Dream It, Do It, Live It which applies project management principles to achieving personal dreams.

His articles and blogs can be followed at www.changinghats.com. Information about his company can be found at www.enixus.co.uk. His books are available at bookshops and online sellers worldwide.

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