Let me start with having you listen to this TED talk entitled The Danger of a Single Story. It sets the tone for much of what was shared during the Winter Institute for Intercultural Communication (WIIC). During Spring Break, thanks to a scholarship from the WFU Office of Diversity and Inclusion, I was able to attend the WIIC which was held here in Winston Salem at the Embassy Suites Hotel. I enrolled in the 3-day course entitled, “Keeping Our Cool! Managing Cross Cultural Conflicts,” and taught by Donna Stringer. The primary objective of the workshop was to lead attendees through a process of understanding how our own culturally learned behaviors and perceptions can create cross-cultural misunderstandings and conflict.

During the session we took the Intercultural Conflict Style Inventory (ICSI) assessment to identify our preferred approach or style for resolving conflict. Knowing more about ourselves, our own preferred conflict style, aids in resolving disagreements, managing stress levels, more accurately interpreting the statements and actions of others, and more effectively communicating our interest to others. The institute was chunked full of high energy and thoroughly engaging conversations coupled with numerous opportunities for role playing, scenario writing and reviewing of case studies.

Of particular interest was the discussion around the two primary ways of handling conflict which was categorized as “direct” vs “indirect”. It was no real surprise to me that the assessment results indicated that I was direct. I want to get right at it. However my other indicator was right down the middle with “engagement” but like one hatch mark away from being “discussion.” I would love to have our leadership team and any interested others take this assessment. It was really eye opening to me. I have the ICSI pamphlet which describes the results, but not the actual assessment questionnaire used. Below is the chart that explains in greater detail.

A couple of statements that really resonated with me were; intent does not minimize impact. Because you didn’t mean anything by your words or actions, doesn’t mean that what the receiver felt was any less real. The second was; conflict is an opportunity for greater intimacy. I truly welcome the opportunity for more discussion. A brown bag lunch time would be super. Would you be up for this?