21 May 2019 - "Rediscovering Unities in Cultures"
We have all heard of the cultural iceberg, but what about the cultural tree? Together with vrijwilligersacademie and the intercultural communication expert and linguist Ute Limacher-Riebold we worked together to understand the complex and hidden meanings behind everyday cultural interactions that often lead to misunderstandings. We would like to give a huge thank you to Ute for her amazing presentation and eye-opening insights on intercultural communication, as well as insights within ourselves.
Groups engaging in a cultural exercise
We have all heard of the cultural iceberg, but what about the cultural tree?
During today’s workshop “Rediscovering Unities in Cultures” with the intercultural communication expert and linguist Ute Limacher-Riebold, we worked together to understand the complex and hidden meanings behind every day cultural interactions that often lead to misunderstandings. Building upon the solutions we discovered in our previous workshop with the Vrijwilligers Academie, we decided to team up again and not focus first on our differences, but on the underlying values that unites us. Read our recap below to get a taste of the fun exercises, wise words, insights and more that Ute taught us!
When asked about how something is in your mind, one must understand that we all have a certain world of reference to orientate ourselves. If you are asked to picture a tree, maybe you picture large pine because you grew up in the forests of North America, or a tall, leafy palm because of your childhood memories in a tropical climate. A tree is a common thing that is different all over the world, and depending on your reference world, it is different from the person next to you. But what if you are asked about something more complex? This is what leads to misunderstandings.
The cultural tree
The cultural iceberg is visually appealing because it portrays the visible spectrum of culture (food, dress, language) in contrast with the invisible spectrum (attitudes, beliefs, values). Instead, Ute advocates a much more comprehensive comparison: a tree. The branches are the behaviors and other aspects of culture you can see, while the roots below are the beliefs that we cannot see. Connecting these metaphorically is the trunk; values that discern between right and wrong. The fruit that the tree bears, and also that we see and take, represents the consequences of these behaviors. Stemming (pun intended) from this metaphor, we engaged in multiple exercises that eventually led us to the helpful anagram of successful communication: SCORE.
Ute and SCORE
Simplify and Specify (avoid complex sentences)
Clarify and Confirm (check that you understand)
Organize and Outline (ensure a clear structure)
Rephrase and Reframe (use different words to say the same thing)
Explain with Examples (give reasons to help the other person see why)
To improve your intercultural communication, you must be aware of your own biases and world of reference. Know and understand your particular communication style, your own preferences, and allow others to communicate in a range of ways. Slow down your response and check your assumptions before responding, and always air on the side of positive intentions. Finally, share the impact of other’s behaviors on you and ask them to do the same.
Welcoming you to our workshop
We would like to give a huge thank you to Ute for her amazing presentation and eye-opening insights on intercultural communication, as well as insights within ourselves. If you would like to contact Ute for her expert services, or send her an email with kudos for today’s workshop, send her an email at [email protected]. Thank you to VrijwilligersAcademie for their assistance in putting on such a great workshop, and of course to all the internationals and Dutch locals who came to participate. We couldn’t do it without you and can't wait to welcome you again soon!
About the Presenter
Ute Limacher-Riebold is an Intercultural Communication Trainer and Language Consultant, founder of Ute’s International Lounge. She is a multilingual expert in bi- and multilingualism and communication and expands her professional skills by participating in training about Intercultural Communication, International Life, International Childhood (TCKs), Resilience, Multilingualism, etc. Ute holds workshops and training for parents' groups, daycares, schools, and companies. She is a trainer at ACCESS and has lead many volunteer groups in The Hague area. She has lived "abroad" her whole life and managed to thrive in all the places so far.
Ute is German and Swiss, and lives in Voorschoten with her Swissgerman husband and three teenage children who are all multilingual and multicultural.