Use Hands-on demos whenever possible.
The use of hands-on demonstrations are practical and help your mentee or student learn the practical use of the new life, social, or cross-cultural skill. Here are five examples of hands-on demos:
1. New Employee Trainings
This approach is often used in new employee trainings. For instance, when starting work in a hospital or food service position, the company would give a comprehensive training. As part of this training will be hands-on demos of particular etiquette and behaviors required on the job- such as how to greet customers, how to handle customer complaints, how to wrap, store, and serve food, how to clean the premises and how to keep oneself clean and hygienic. The most prominent example is learning the company’s policy on hand washing. Entering many restaurants or store restrooms in the USA, customers see a sign on the door or mirrors stating "All Employees Must Wash Hands Before Returning to the Sales Floor.” Some signs also include instructions on hand washing to refresh the employee’s memory (as pictured to the right). Adapting habits through one’s place of employment is adapting the culture of your corporation.
2. Potty Training
Hands-on demos are also a parenting technique. How does a parent potty train their child? This is a hands-on demo within the family’s cultural circumstances (which vary by country). In some rare cases these demos can be adjusted for adults learning to use different kinds of toilets in other cultures or while on expeditions where toilet facilities are not available. Recently, I was surprised to learn the public restroom etiquette I used in the USA was not shared by other cultures, and taught restroom etiquette to foreigners in the USA.
3. Ethnic Wear
Hands-on demos are popularly used in learning how to wear another culture’s ethnic wear. The national dress of India, sari, can be worn many different ways. If we find a local Indian woman who’s willing to show us how to wear it – this is a hands-on demonstration. Of course, this is not restricted to ethnic wear. A related example is learning how to dress for work in different cultures. The use of models or samples of clothing can be useful. The best hands-on demo would be to take future expat workers to their local shops so they can pick local brands and styles that can be used abroad.
4. Meal-time Etiquette
Another example is learning table or eating etiquette in other cultures. Learning to eat with chopsticks, Western cutlery, or hands if not accustomed to it is best done with a hands-on real-life experience.
5. Doing the Laundry
A last example is hands-on demonstrations for college students and expat workers not accustomed to using a washing machine on how sort laundry and use laundry machines. Laundry machines differ based on make and model. Some models are also only available in certain countries. For instance a ‘dryer’ in the USA is different than what most Indians (in India) think of when they say ‘dryer’. Hands-on demos are the best way to learn to do the laundry – and most of the time this is passed on from mother to children, but it may need to be learned from peers or others when moving away from home for the first time.
Thank you Anna Ridgway and Scott McCall for this example
Jennifer Kumar, author, has given comprehensive multi day cross-cultural trainings in India for those working with Americans. Read more about her services or contact her at email@example.com.
Photo credit: Gordon Ross Creative Commons @flickr
End of Tip #3.
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