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Work effectively with culturally diverse clients and co-workers HLTHIR403C # 4: Cultural Diversity & Communication. Lesson Outline. How do we show respect for cultural diversity when communicating in the workplace?

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Work effectively with culturally diverse clients and co-workersHLTHIR403C# 4: Cultural Diversity & Communication

lesson outline
Lesson Outline

How do we show respect for cultural diversity when communicating in the workplace?

How can we use communication constructively to create effective relationships, trust & confidence ?

How can we sensitively consider the impact of cultural differences when resolving issues?

How do we communicate in the most effective way when there are language barriers?


culturally competent communication
Culturally competent communication

Humans are social beings: we create societies with people from different groups who can live together in peace or in conflict

Verbal and non-verbal communication is the bridge enabling us to create these social links

Our challenge is to communicate effectively within a culturally diverse society and workplace

CULTURE AND COMMUNICATION-Low and High Context Cultures


Communication contains 3 components




Video: Cross Cultural Communication

components of communication
Components of communication

Affective component: the emotion we feel as a

reaction to events or to words spoken in an interaction

Acceptance of difference or prejudice

Prejudice: a negative feeling toward someone formed beforehand, without knowledge or thought

components of communication1
Components of communication

Behavioural component: our actions & the actions of others

Treating others equitably or with discrimination

Discrimination: unequal treatment based on which group a person belongs to

components of communication2
Components of communication
  • Cognitive component: the thinking behind our affect and behaviour
  • Positive view of people as individuals orstereotyping
  • Stereotype: inaccurate, simplistic generalisations about a group that allows others to categorise them and treat them negatively
social categorisation scapegoating
Social categorisation & scapegoating

Prejudice, stereotypes & discrimination can lead to social categorisation

This categorising of people creates out-group members (them) and in-group members (us)

External characteristics are often the basis of social categorization - we judge people on how they look, eg:race, gender, obesity

Scapegoat theory: people may blame problems on the out-group. Conflict and stress may bring out more prejudice & scapegoating.

Brainstorm: In pairs, think of as many factors as you can that people use to stereotype or scapegoat others

explanations for prejudice
Explanations for Prejudice

• Competition (for limited resources)

• Ignorance (leading to fear of difference)

• Rationalisation for oppression or domination (by powerful groups)

• Prejudice boosts self-esteem (“my group is superior”)

• Stereotyping

overcoming stereotypes reducing prejudice
Overcoming Stereotypes & Reducing Prejudice

How do we overcome prejudice?

Be aware most people claim not to be prejudiced

Consciously override inner prejudice and stereotypical thinking

Contact with people from other groups may help us learn more about them as individuals and reduce any stereotypes or prejudice

Think about whether you want to overcome a stereotype because it is morally wrong (your inner process) or you are reacting to social disapproval? (peer pressure) Which is more effective?

strategies for culturally competent communication
Strategies for culturally competent communication

As community service workers or counsellors, how can we learn to communicate in a culturally competent way?

Patience in dealing with clients’ & colleagues’ attitudes, values or ideas which are different from yours

Repeat information, speak more slowly but not louder, ask questions if the other person seems not to understand

Use non-verbal language: hand gestures, demonstration or mime to explain

strategies for culturally competent communication1
Strategies for culturally competent communication

Avoid jokes unless you are ready to explain them – they may not be understood, or give offence to someone

If a person reacts differently from your cultural expectations, act professionally

Give written back up information, diagrams, pictures, to help clients understand

Don’t expect others to act according to your stereotype of a culture or social group.

overcoming language barriers
Overcoming language barriers

Detecting language barriers:

A client who seems to understand social English may not understand complex discussions.

Staff may overestimate a person’s English levels in stressful situations, where the person’s English skills may decrease.

People’s comprehension level is often better than their spoken language ability.

overcoming language barriers1
Overcoming language barriers

Using interpreters:

Interpreters provide a voice for patients whose English is insufficient & they convey the information in a language that the client can understand

Explain to clients their right to an interpreter and the interpreter’s role.

Don’t use family members as they are not bound by the same professional code of ethics as interpreters

overcoming language barriers2
Overcoming language barriers

Make a file note if the client refuses to have an interpreter after you have offered it

Offer a telephone interpreter service if an on-site interpreter is refused.

choosing an interpreter
Choosing an interpreter
  • Find out the appropriate language & dialect, eg: Taiwanese people may get confused if the interpreter is from China, Hong Kong or Malaysia
  • Be aware of ethnicity. Clients may not want interpreters from specific communities for political reasons, or because of confidentiality fears in small communities, eg: Serbian interpreter for a Bosnian Muslim.
  • Try to engage an interpreter of the same gender, or ask the client if they are willing to accept the opposite gender before engaging an interpreter.
the interpreter s role
The Interpreter’s Role

To repeat what you & the client say to each other so good communication can occur

To maintain client confidentiality

Not to analyse the information, or decide what should or should not be conveyed

Not to be a cultural expert, to counsel the client, nor to calm the client down

the interpreter s role1
The Interpreter’s Role

Don’t worry if the interpreter talks a lot after you have said something brief - they may need more words to explain the concept in the client’s language

If in doubt, ask the interpreter what they have been saying.

If the issue is sensitive, the interpreter may apologise to the client for asking the question, and explain that they have to ask it.


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