By Nathan Beavers
O’Rourke devotes Chapter 10 to Intercultural Communication. He states that there are many things that can make up a type of culture; ethnicity, size of population, immigration, age, families and gender. However, because cultures are so varied, there is often ample opportunity for people from one culture to come into a conflict with someone of a differing culture.
At a previous job I had, we had a healthy mix of all different types of people. Older, younger, male, female and several different ethnicities were present in workforce. This often made for interesting days. Never knowing how someone would react to something you might do, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, and as it would often go, things would be dealt with in a passive-aggressive way that would make the offender never quite sure what they had done or what they could do to rectify the situation. However the main source of tension was a supervisor who believed he had more power with the company than he really did. To give some background, this supervisor was a veteran of the army who had planned on being a career soldier. Everything he did or wanted to be done, had to be exactly right or it would be redone until it was done his right way. However, the main source of conflict between the employees and him was punctuality. He was ten minutes early for everything. Everyone else would arrive around the time that they were supposed to show up, often a few minutes late. Being even a few minutes late would earn a chewing out by him and would often evolve into full-on shouting match in the break room. Finally, management stepped in; if someone was five to ten minutes late, that was fine but anything else would earn an automatic occurrence. This angered the supervisor to no end, as he believed showing up one second after your shift was being late. Eventually, the supervisor left and was replaced with someone far less strict and the break room shouting matches all but disappeared.
Culture is extremely important to consider, especially in a working environment where they will often develop their very own. Knowing how to successfully deal with these issues is a great step at being able to effectively communicate in a business environment.