Learn by Doing – How to Broach Delicate Topics

Posted On: August 1, 2015

The third tip in a series of tips on How to Broach Delicate Topics is to:  
Use Hands-on demos:   

Hands on demos and role plays are great tools to use for training programs where there is more time to do role plays and dos and don’t sessions. Some demos I have used in previous training sessions include:

1. Dress Code 
For those going to the US to seal business deals or working onsite with the client, the dress code may be different than the expectation in the local Indian office. This is especially true for those IT professionals that work in casual environments, and also for women in various parts of India who may wear more traditional Indian attire to work. For such demos, we may discuss or show pictures of the do’s and don’ts in an American/Western office. While remaining sensitive to the cultural needs, it is also important to set a good impression on site, hence we attempt to present tips that build on their already well-defined dressing sense rather than changing it completely and compromising their modesty. 

2. Restroom Etiquette   

Hand wash tips typically seen in most US
restaurant and grocery store restrooms.

This has to be one of the more challenging and sensitive areas when teaching cross-cultural skills. It is often taken for granted that the behavior in restrooms is global or basic common sense, therefore, no change is required. After training both Japanese and Indians and even living in India, it surely is a false impression to think that bathroom behavior is the same world wide. 

3. 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.

4. Body Language  
Body language, personal space, gestures, handshakes and introductions, and eye contact among other other non-verbal behaviors do vary from culture to culture. Demos help participants to see, experience and immediately compare differences between their culture and the foreign culture to attempt to fit in better whenever possible. A few modules in the training programs I deliver that include such demos are meeting time etiquette, face-to-face interview preparation, video (video-con) conference calls, and in-person (handshakes and business card exchange) introductions are all topics where hands-on demos have filled these gaps in easy, fun and interactive ways. 

5. Other

Other areas where demos work well in corporate environments include: 

Thank you Anna Ridgway and Scott McCall for this example

Jennifer Kumar, author, has trained over 3500 Indian professionals for their offshore client visits through corporate coaching and interactive group training sessions.

End of Tip #3.
<–Read Tip #2 – Cross-Cultural Errors and Mistakes.


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