Tip of The Iceberg
During our last simulation, Tip of the Iceberg, there were two different scenarios that the group participated in: ShrineTek and SafeWater. In the ShrineTek simulation, I was assigned the role of CEO and I had to communicate with my three team members in a text chat to answer four questions about the company. Two of the team members were nonnative english speakers and we found it extremely difficult to communicate. When we first started communicating as a group, I quickly came to realize that the two nonnative speakers could not fully understand what I was typing and could also not reply with long sentences. In an attempt to communicate better, our group began to communicate with emojis. We used a smiley face when someone agreed with a statement and a frown when there was a disagreement. As CEO, I found myself increasingly stressed and I tried to frantically type in our group’s answers while trying to read in between the lines of the team’s responses. In the SafeWater simulation, I was given the role of a nonnative speaker. I noticed this time, I was given a lot more important information that could be used to answer the questions, but it was way more difficult to communicate with the CEO who was typing the answers. Since this simulation was done after the debrief process, our group was able to communicate more efficiently. As a nonnative speaker, I communicated in very limited words and tried to repeat what I was typing multiple times in an attempt to get my point across. I also communicated with the other nonnative speaker to try to get our messages across together. I found this role more difficult, but in the end, I think our team was very successful in the second round.
These simulations opened my eyes to how native and nonnative speakers communicate in a workplace environment. I came to truly understand how difficult and frustrating it is for both ends of a team when there is miscommunication. I also came to understand the importance of acknowledging people’s abilities and changing different aspects of communication in an attempt to accommodate. I learned about different types of universal languages that work best when communicating. I learned about how the challenges of global collaboration are very common even when there is a similar language shared. It is very important to fully comprehend how much your employees understand a language in order to create an understanding of the best way to communicate. This simulation showed me the true significance of having a translator and how employees who share a common language tend to speak with each other instead of sharing their opinions with the entire team. I also saw how the native speakers could take more time waiting for responses and typing questions more clearly to try to include the nonnative speakers.
In my role of CEO as a native speaker, I facilitate mutual understanding by the use of emojis which are universally understood no matter what language is spoken. While this did allow a cohesive conversation, I learned that the nonnative speakers resisted from disagreeing because there was no way for them to fully explain why they disagreed. During the debrief, I learned that in similar situations, using universal languages and using repetition and clear sentences would help ease the process. Some universal languages that we discussed were emoji use, the use of numbers, and body language. I also learned about different strategies to increase engagement as both a native and nonnative speaker. As a native speaker, it is important to engage in active listening and refrain from taking over a conversation. As a less fluent speaker, it is important to ask people to repeat themselves when you do not understand and to increase engagement in conversations.
During this course, I have learned a lot about different strategies of leadership and working in global settings. Some of the lessons of leadership that were taught, I knew were important, but I never understood how to properly use them. Other lessons that were taught were about strategies I had never thought about being important to being a good leader. This type of learning is really important to me because as I move up in the company I work with, I want to be able to successfully lead a team and ensure that my team is doing their best work while also feeling a sense of inclusion and enjoyment in their work. Going forward, I will start paying more attention to the people in a team who seem to be participating less. I will focus on these members and ask them specific questions about their opinions and knowledge of different topics. I will also take a step back as a leader and engage in active listening where I can then facilitate conversation between all other members of the team. I will also encourage disagreement in a conversation and understand that while a disagreement takes more time to discuss, it ensures that every view is being acknowledged and the truly right decision is being made. Additionally, when making decisions, I will analyze why I am making a decision and ensure that I am not being persuaded by any bias. In a global setting, I am also going to acknowledge that not every member can fully understand what is being discussed and it is important to again, step back as a leader, and ask questions of clarification. It is important to discuss matters more slowly and use simple words to express your points.
Start. Stop. Continue. Change.
I am going to start listening actively to the opinions of every member of a group. I will start actively looking for team members who seem to disagree with a decision, but are not speaking out. I will start analyzing the decisions I make and the potential bias that could be influencing me. I will start acknowledging any global differences in my team and adjusting my communication strategies. I will start to acknowledge my role in a team and analyze what decisions could be made to most effectively persuade other team members to understand my point of view. I am going to stop trying to dominate a conversation and instead briefly mention my points and allow the rest of the team to discuss their points as well. I am going to stop speaking fast and getting frustrated when working in a global context. I am going to stop allowing bias to impact my decisions. I will continue expressing my opinions in a conversation. I will continue leading a conversation to get the team to an understanding of what topic we are discussing. I will change how often I speak in a group setting and I will change how I perceive my actions as a leader.