Impact of Culture on Communication/Conflict Management AND Motivation/Reward Systems
Culture forms an essential component of communication and conflict resolution. Cultures are comparable to underground rivers running through our relationships, interactions and our lives generally. Culture furnishes us with attributions, perceptions, judgments and ideas. Cultures are embedded in almost all conflicts because the conflicts themselves arise amongst human relationships. It, therefore, affects the way we address frame, blame and even attempt to manage the conflicts. Essentially, there is always a cultural component in any conflict. For instance, conflicts occurring between Israel and Palestine or India and Pakistan are not solely based on territorial or sovereignty issues, the conflicts are also about the representation, legitimization and acknowledgment of the different ways of living and identity, which comprise culture. From North America to China, culture plays a huge role in the emergence of conflict. The conflict between children and their parents is shaped by generation culture. The conflict between married couples is influenced by gender culture. Different disciplinary culture in organizations escalates tensions between employees and leads to inaccurate or strained information, as well as stressed relationships. As observed, culture is, therefore, part of almost every conflict hat arises amongst human beings. Given its huge influence on conflicts, culture should be fully included in the management or response patterns adopted for the conflicts. This paper attempts to demystify how culture influences conflict or communication management as well as motivation and organization rewards system. This paper will focus on two regions, the North Eastern Region of the United States and China. These two regions exhibit similar trends organization and the influence of culture on the trends mentioned above are almost similar.
Every side involved in a conflict comes to the negotiation table with a different style of communication and culture. For any culture management or resolution to be realized, it is paramount that the different cultural aspects on the table are taken into consideration. Since one’s culture is usually accompanied by preconceived assumptions about various things, effective conflict management means going beyond these preconceived assumptions and trying to understand and tolerate the culture of others. Managing conflicts across cultures requires three key aspects: cultural awareness, fluency and aptitude. Aptitude and awareness fosters authenticity and this authenticity inadvertently fosters trust and credibility.
Understanding the enormous impact of cultural differences determines the degree of cultural resolution. This is because, at its core, culture determines the interlocutory and communication process that are at the epicenter of many techniques of conflict resolution.
In simple terms, it is important for one to have an open mind when it comes to conflict management. It is extremely vital for all parties to be willing to listen to each other’s opinion’s ideas, perceptions of cultural values. When conflicting parties take time to listen to each other’s views, the process of conflict resolution is made easy. The conflicting parties are able to reach a compromise and evade further emotional volatility (Avruch, 1998).
Cultural dynamics will always be a present feature and as such, conflicts are inevitable. However, different cultures can learn to mitigate their differences and work together towards the achievement of both personal and organizational goals. The best way to manage rising or potential conflicts is by promoting reciprocity, openness and mutual respect (Avruch, 1998). In addition, effective cross-cultural relationships and connections should be encouraged because they will have a great impact on conflict management. Conflict management and techniques that utilize cultural competencies peace designs and connections that permit for more effectual multiparty negotiations inadvertently make the process more inclusive and increases its potentiality for success (Avruch, 1998).
As mentioned, conflict is an inevitable aspect and there is no one single solution to conflict. However, by incorporating cultural dynamics into the resolution or management process, it becomes very easy to evade the emotional volatility that is usually associated with conflicts. The importance of cultural considerations is exhibited especially in cross border commercial mediations where effectively understanding a local culture can make or break settlement or conflict management prospects (Trujillo, 2008). As mentioned earlier, culture cannot, however, be defined narrowly along the confines of nationality. Both international and domestic communities exhibit distinct cultures that must be acknowledged in conflict resolution management. In addition, every single organization functions within a unique or special set of cultural practices. In light of this, sensitivity and understanding of this set of cultural practices must be demonstrated when resolving conflicts (Trujillo, 2008).
Culture also plays an enormous role when it comes to the development of motivation techniques and the formulation of reward systems in organizations. Organizations are always seeking to recruit top talent. The recruitment aspect is usually not a hard one since there is diverse and large crop of talented workers in the world. The hardest part is retaining these workers once they reach their performance peak. One of the best ways to retain high performing employees is by constantly motivating and rewarding them appropriately (Stone and Stone-Romero, 2008).
People from different cultures that have different human values characterize most organizations. A motivational technique adopted for a particular class of workers may not necessarily work for a different class. Likewise, a reward system that is not inclusive of the cultural dynamics may prove to be the downfall of an organization (Stone and Stone-Romero, 2008).
Many organizations utilize the Maslow’s hierarchy of need in developing their motivation and reward systems. The Maslow hierarchy of needs is an excellent tool that can be used in the formulation of this, but it should be understood that some people do not necessarily abide by the sequence of needs and wants indicated by this hierarchy (Stone and Stone-Romero, 2008). Therefore, the organization should be flexible in determining the type of reward to be accorded to a particular worker or the type of motivation technique to be used on the worker. This will ensure that everyone in the organization is motivated to work hard and realize quality results because they understand that their efforts will be recognized and rewarded in the manner, which they desire.
While some cultures play more value in tangible rewards, others place more value in intangible rewards (Stone and Stone-Romero, 2008). For instance, an organization may choose to reward it workers or motivate them by using cash bonuses. These tangible rewards may hugely motivate some employees to work even harder to gain the bonuses. On the other hand, an employee who comes from a culture that places more value in non-tangible rewards such as promotion may not be necessarily be motivated. Due to this, it extremely vital that organizations consider cultural aspects in their reward systems and motivational techniques development. This will create an equal playing ground where everyone is suitably rewarded for his or her efforts and will consequently be motivated to work even harder.
The new and emerging American workforce is an excellent example of how culture affects motivation and rewards systems in organizations. Recently, a paradigm shift has occurred in this class of workers. These days, talented people from top rated institutions of learning such as the Ivy League schools have developed a new mentality. These individuals are seeking jobs and employment opportunities from organizations that give their workers extra benefits and perks apart from the traditional pay incentives and health benefits. Leaders of organizations that hope to attract such workers must, therefore, take into considerations such cultural paradigm shift in their development of motivation and rewards systems.
Avruch, K. (1998). Culture & conflict resolution. Washington, D.C: United States Institute of Peace Press.
Trujillo, M. A. (2008). Re-centering culture and knowledge in conflict resolution practice. Syracuse, N.Y: Syracuse University Press.
Stone, D. L., & Stone-Romero, E. F. (2008). The influence of culture on human resource management processes and practices. New York: Psych Press.