Next Wednesday evening, the Speaker Series returns with a special presentation by the U.S. Embassy’s Minister Counselor for Agricultural Affairs, Scott Sindelar, the highest ranking member of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in China and twenty-five year veteran of agricultural policy in East Asia and Africa. Scott S. Sindelar is currently Minister Counselor for Agricultural Affairs at the American Embassy[Continue Reading...]
In my last post, I discussed the utility of informal pre-meetings in generating greater participation in intercultural American-Chinese office meetings. Once the pre-meetings are complete, however, the hard part begins – actually moderating the larger meeting to achieve participation.
It’s not always easy for non-native English speakers to speak up in a meeting – even when they want to – because of the difficulty of mastering the language etiquette necessary to politely interject into a conversation. An endless variety of transition words and phrases can be used in such situations – “If I could just add that….”, “Great point, but….”, “That’s true, however….” – but it is not always easy for non-native speakers to know which phrase is the most polite or appropriate for the situation. It becomes even more difficult if, because of language difficulties, they didn’t understand 100% of what the other meeting participants have already said.
In my first post on intercultural meetings, I wrote about some of the major differences between American and Chinese meeting styles and how sometimes the best way to avoid damaging assumptions and to create an environment for productive meetings is to communicate more with your Chinese colleagues outside of meetings.
But what if you do all that – you chat by the watercooler before/after meetings, you build rapport and trust through open communication throughout the day – and yet in meetings it’s still just crickets? Crickets or lots of American blabbermouths.
Whether or not you will be able to take any additional steps to generate more active participation in meetings will depend on who is leading the meeting. …