No organization is immune from the difficulties that employees encounter when communicating in English as a second language with colleagues, business partners and clients from other cultures. My Dance of Opinions book and seminars provide actionable solutions for self-directed and group learning to expand intercultural insight and enhance intercultural communication skills.
However, for some organizations targeted solutions may be more effective. In this case an Intercultural Communication Audit is available, which can include individuals from departments throughout an organization or those within just a single department or team.
My audit process is unique in that it focuses on the speaking and listening competences of the five speech acts common to all languages: requests, offers, promises, declarations and opinions. These are the fundamental building blocks of all human coordination of action and interaction. Accordingly, my audit is not based on culture-specific elements such as behavior, values or personality — it operates at the more fundamental level of universal linguistic distinctions, with accordingly greater insights and results.
Benefits of an Intercultural Communication Audit
- Demonstrates a commitment to improving intercultural communication throughout the organization, which fosters intercultural trust and cooperation
- Identifies how to maximize the intercultural communication skills of individuals within the organization
- Reveals patterns of intercultural communication difficulties within the organization
- Leads to a detailed plan of action to address specific difficulties
- Saves valuable resources, since the audit determines which difficulties are open to change and which ones are not
- Can become the basis for creating intercultural communication guidelines for the organization. These increase communication effectiveness, and build individual confidence and better working relationships
Overview of the Audit Process
A brief overview of the stages of the audit process:
- An initial meeting with key stakeholders and HR representatives to identify the individuals or groups to include in the audit. Throughout the audit process I work closely with HR.
- A three-hour orientation workshop for the people who have been selected to participate in the audit. The objective of the workshop is to discuss any concerns they have and to prepare them to complete the Intercultural Communication Adaptability questionnaire. The questionnaire requires participants to observe themselves engaging in their day-to-day communications using both their native language and English. This allows them to answer the 50 questions of the questionnaire based on their actual experience, not on their preconceptions of their communication strengths and weaknesses.
- Participants are given a two-week period to fill out the questionnaire, based on what they have observed. This step in the process is in itself a powerful learning experience for all the participants. The questionnaires are then sent directly to me for analysis.
- After analysis of the questionnaires I hold a one-hour session with each individual for a personal assessment. These sessions verify and deepen my understanding of what the questionnaire revealed about the current intercultural communication capabilities of the participants, as well as what needs to be adapted for their particular intercultural context. The sessions provide each participant with a clear understanding of the specific areas where further adaptation is required.
- I submit a report to HR representatives that includes a detailed action plan for each individual, as well as my general recommendations for what intercultural communication guidelines could be implemented within the team, department or company.
- I meet with the key stakeholders to discuss the report. If the decision is made to proceed on my recommendations, I then submit a follow-up report that provides suggested timelines and a budget for implementation.
While the implementation phase of the audit can provide the most significant benefit, all those involved in the audit process will benefit by gaining new perspectives on what is happening when they communicate within intercultural business contexts.
I invite you to contact me to find out more about conducting an Intercultural Communication Audit for your organization.