Intercultural Communication and Mediation Process in Multinational Contexts An anthropological approach for observing and interpreting situations Aline GohardRadenkovic, 2010 What about my itinerary? Since 1997, I have been a Professor in « Didactics of Foreign Languages and Cultures » in a plurilingual and intercultural perspective at the bilingual University of Fribourg (F/G) Before I was a teacher for FLE in Austria and Turkey ; then Attachée linguistique or Advisor for Linguistic, Educational and Academic Cooperation in Australia, South-Korea and Russia; then a Consultant at the Rectorat of the Academy of Grenoble for International Relations and Language Policies. Because of the diversity o these linguistic, cultural, personal and professional experiences in foreign languages and international contexts, I felt the need to start again my studies in the anthropological and sociological fields. What about my context ? 3M7 German; 1M4 French; 760.000 Italian and 50-6000 Reto-romanch speakers What about my context ? A bilingual University in a multilingual country Switzerland is conceived as an official multilingual country in the Constitution of 1848: it means that the three languages (F/G/I) are in principle equally recognized and treated on a national and administrative level; in 1939, the Romanche (endangered language) acquired the status of a national language. The Swiss Confederation gives general recommendations encouraging the learning / teaching of the «partner language» but each canton decides its own language policies, above all in the bilingual or border cantons… For instance my University is officially bilingual because located on the borderline of the French speaking and German speaking regions. What about my context ? The city of Fribourg located on the border-line What about my context ? Gaps between official discourses on multilingualism and local realities Until a few years ago, the «partner language(s)» was/were tought in every canton at the Primary and Secundary levels (I & II) based on the sacred principle of a mutual learning in order to maintain the social peace and political cohesion…. With the neoliberal trends on power at the CH that promoted «Englisch über alles» at each level in every sector, against the partner languages, this remarkable recripoctiy is dying… It seams that Schultheis (1995) was right when he declared: «Switzerland is multilingual but the Swiss people aren’t! » In other words, the unique and remarkable linguistic balance and the social peace are clearly threatened by a language war. The main aims of the Workshop - - - to work on the intercultural communication process in multinational professional contexts by studying the expectations, references, stakes, status of the diverse actors in different situations; to make hypothesis on the possible reasons of the misunderstandings and the conflicts through study cases; to identify the “emerging mediation strategies” to face, to repair or to resolve (or not) the conflicts, improvised or elaborated by the actors. How to identify the origins of misunderstandings in the intercultural communication process ? Which anthropological tools do we need to identify the social and cultural dimensions embedded in the intercultural / inter-individual communication ?.... in order to understand the hidden sociocultural rules and to identify the misunderstandings that may appear in the (daily) professional communication in multinational teams and… de facto in multilingual and multicultural contexts The inter-individual communication is a complex process… why? Because we are used to “reproduce” or “interprete spontaneously” situations according to our grid of cultural references, values and beliefs, our social background, our life history and experiences of “otherness”… wearing from our younger years sociological lenses on the “others” on their ways of behaving, speaking, thinking, breading up, eating, etc. Cf. Gohard-Radenkovic, A. «Comment analyser les rapports identitaires entre groupes et entre individus en situation de mobilité?», Igitur, 2007 The inter-individual communication is a complex process Representations, images, cliches, prejudices, etc. Hidden values and beliefs, « invisible evidences » Cultural norms, social rules or rituals, expected behaviours in formal and informal situations … Reproduction of social classifications, hierarchies… = this grid of references hasbuilt an «implicite socioculture» shared by actors belonging the same speech community and the same social group Cf. Gohard-Radenkovic, A. Communiquer en langue étrangère, De compétences culturelles à des compétences linguistiques, 2004, 1999 How to identify the origins of misunderstandings in the intercultural communication? Three fundamental anthropological concepts used as objects and tools : Representations (Doise): system of perceptions in which the models, beliefs, standards and values of a social group are in contant interaction. The function of these representations, inheritated from our social group, is to interpret the reality that surrounds us by symbolising it, giving it, meaning and by mentally restructuring it. Stereotyped representations and their effects on the communication process A stereotype is a linked with a generalisation and reduction process on one unique caracteristic on a country or its people taken as granted and admitted as the truth a relation to alterity mostly built on a binary and oppositional conception transmitting prejudices: « I versus the Others »… Representations, on one’s self and on the « others » One example of mutual stereotypes on the others or «hetero-stereotypes», and on one’s self or «auto-stereotypes» from people - here businessmen - being used to work together for a long time in bi- and international firms. Cf. F. Gauthey and D. Xardel, Management interculturel. Modes et modèles, 1991 How to identify the origins of misunderstandings in the intercultural communication? Invisible evidences (Carroll): a social rule (expressed verbally and non-verbally: ex. politeness rules) that is obvious to you and not to the others ; a rule consequently that is unaware, invisible to the others BUT invisible TOO to yourself because you reproduce it as « natural » without thinking. Implicits (Zarate): a cultural or social reference that is not said or explained in the interaction but that each actor in the communication may identify and understand unconsciously… because belonging to the same « speech community » and,or social group, it was initiated to the same socio-historical (collective, national) background. Implicits and their effects on the daily professional communication The English don’t have a clear position in meeting, notes Sylvie : “Other experiences I’ve had with the English have always been vague. I mean, we never get anywhere to have a clear yes or no, it’s always somewhere in between”. It’s the same for Daniel, “What’s puzzling is the vagueness, meaning they (the English) are sometimes incapable of getting their point across. They can have certain demands of you and then you leave, for example at a reunion where you made sure everything was black and white, well, not black and white, but you said things to each other stating, ‘Ok, Ok, you need this, etc.’ So, you leave their meeting saying, ‘Tomorrow, I’ll confirm everything in writing’, he will confirms... And then, three weeks later, nothing. You have to pester them every day. Everything remains undecided.” Cf. Christine Geoffroy, La mésentente cordiale. Voyage au coeur de l’espace interculturel franco-anglais, 2001 Implicits and their effects on the professional communication For John, the “heated” quality of discussions with French partners is taken for rudeness and provokes an irritation: “Often, it gets heated, which isn’t very polite. In England, we’re a little cooler and sometimes people meetings aren’t as heated, they don’t argue about the little things. They don’t get moody in front of others. And really, it annoys the English to have French who argue in a meeting when they don’t think it’s necessary.” Weary from the conflict in discussion, the English partners prefer to withdraw, Donald asserts: “We often leave meetings totally exhausted. We even sometimes stop fighting for what we believe to be a better idea. We just tell ourselves, ‘I can’t communicate, I’ll never get anywhere with this person because they’re not open to other suggestions’”. Cf. Geoffroy, op. cit., 2001 Expected behaviours in Business Meetings: making hypothesis on the misunderstandings What sort of misunderstandings could you identify in these discourses? Where do they come from ? Can you make hypothesis ont these differences of expected behaviours during business meetings ? Have you any ideas to resolve such tensions? Other tools to observe the invisible evidences in the communication process ? Examples of this « implicite shared socioculture » through… Greeting rituals, giving-giving back rituals, etc. Expected speech and behaviours (politeness rules) in different situations (formal-unformal), Organisation and relation to hierarchy, Working methods (or relation to work), Space, time distribution, etc. Attention: we must care about any abusive generalization on these sociocultural rules ! Respect of the social rules and hierarchy in a formal situation Film: Tampopo from Juzo Itami Japenese businessmen belonging to two different firms are celebrating an event in a very “chic and trendy”French restaurant in Tokyo. Nobody in the staff is actually able to read the menu written in French… except one person…! Cf. Gohard-Radenkovic, A. : « Mise en scène de 'l'autre' dans des films de fiction : lieux de catégorisation, lieux de (re)médiation du rapport à l'altérité », in Entre médias et médiations : les « mises en scène » du rapport à l’altérité, 2010 To loose versus to save one’s face Questions to understand and interprete Can you identify the title and function of the different participants around the table? Why are the boss(es) about to loose their faces ? Which strategies are mobilised to save them ? Why the situation is becoming unbearable ? Who is responsible for the tensions and why?? Can you identify the non verbal signs of tensions around the table ? Why the conflict doesn’t explose ? A fundamental process in the communication: to loose / to save one’s face These verbal and non-verbal (implicit) rules may interfere in the daily professional communication and generate “misunderstandings” and even “conflicts”. It is a normal process in every situation of communication, in every group, firm, institution, more widely in every society. But a fundamental process called the “preservation of my face / of your face” allows to maintain and, or to repair the communication Cf. Erving Goffman, Les rites d’interaction, 1974 (Interaction Ritual) Conflicts and mediation : steps and strategies Film: When the green ants dream from Werner Herzog Context and situation: we are in Ayers Rock (Uluru now), in the very deep Australian bush where are used to live two Aborigenese tribes. The firm Ayers Mining has sent a geologist, Lance Hackett, to explore the soil, expecting to discover minerals. But these tribes are watching on the “dream of the green ants” that must not be awaken… otherwise that’s the end of the world! We see the scene when the explosions for testing the soil are starting… and then when the conflict is exploding…!!! Conflicts and Mediation Process Questions to identify and to interprete - - - - Can you define the different moments or steps in the conflict process you observed ? Can you identify ways of behaving and speaking during the conflict process ? Can you identify the reasons, the stakes and challenges of the actors of the situation? Could you observe an emerging mediation process ? When and how ? Cf. A. Gohard-Radenkovic: « Mise en scène de 'l'autre' dans des films de fiction : lieux de catégorisation, lieux de (re)médiation du rapport à l'altérité », 2010 Examples of strategies and attitudes developped during the mediation process 1- A verbal attitude in the mediation process : To be a good listener, to repeat, to make the message explicit, to identify the possible misunderstanding 2- A non verbal attitude in the mediation process : To try to understand the rationale or the logical reasoning (logics) of the partners Cf. Pia Stalder. Pratiques imaginées et Images de la pratiques plurilingues. Stratégies de communication dans les réunions en milieu professionnel international, 2010 A verbal attitude: A non verbal attitude Mediation process in the conflictual communication: which competences of the mediator? Now it is your turn to define !: What is the function of a mediator ? How can identify the reasons of a conflict ? How can we anticipate the conflicts? Which strategies to resolve a conflict ? Which abilities must have a mediator? What are the different types of mediators? Cf. D. Lévy et G. Zarate (coord.). Médiation et didactique des langues et des cultures, Le français dans le monde, 2003 Bridge between scientific approach and pragmatic intervention on the work-field What are the links between the « mediation process » and the intercultural communication ? Links between the mediation process and the inter-individual communication ? V. de Briant & Y. Palau (La médiation, 1999) explain the links Mediation must be conceived as putting in relation (creating connections) two elements and two human beings, individuals between them on one side and the society on the other side. Every mediation is historically and locally situated, loaded by social representations that are vehicled by «the mediated actors» and «the mediating ones» (mediators). Every mediation is consequently a double process, social or « societal » on one side, and inter-individual on the other side (p.43) The double nature of mediation, e.g. the individual dimension embedded in a social dimension, makes any interaction between social actors a very complex process… Bibliographie Briant (de), V. et Palau, Y. (1999). La médiation. Définition, pratiques et perspectives. 128 / Université / Nathan. Carroll, R.(1987). Evidences invisibles, Seuil, Paris. Gauthey, F. et D. Xardel, D. (1991). Management interculturel. Modes et modèles, Economica, Paris. Geoffroy, C. (2001), La mésentente cordiale. Voyage au coeur de l’espace interculturel franco-anglais, Grasset / Le Monde, Paris. Goffman, E. (1974). Les rites d’interaction. Le sens commun / Editions de Minuit (Titre original : Interaction Ritual). Gohard-Radenkovic, A. (2004, 1999). Communiquer en langue étrangère, De compétences culturelles à des compétences linguistiques, Peter Lang, Bern. Gohard-Radenkovic, A. (2007). « Comment analyser les rapports identitaires entre groupes et entre individus en situation de mobilité? », Igitur, Lingue / Culture / Identità, Santore L. (a cura di), Anno VIII, Nuova Arnica Editrice, Roma (pp. 41-56). Bibliographie (suite) Gohard-Radenkovic, A (2010). « Mise en scène de 'l'autre' dans des films de fiction : lieux de catégorisation, lieux de (re)médiation du rapport à l'altérité », in Gohard-Radenkovic, A. Acklin Muji, D., Entre médias et médiations : les « mises en scène » du rapport à l’altérité, Espaces interculturels / L’Harmattan, Lévy, D. et Zarate, G. (2003) (coord.). Médiation et didactique des langues et des cultures, Le français dans le monde. Recherches et applications, n° juin, FIPF / Clé international. Stalder, P. (2010), Pratiques imaginées et Images de la pratiques plurilingues. Stratégies de communication dans les réunions en milieu professionnel international, Transversales / Peter Lang, Bern. Zarate, G., Gohard-Radenkovic, A., Lussier, D. & Penz, H. (2004, 2003) Cultural Mediation in Language Learning and Teaching Graz : ECML / CELV, Council of Europe / Conseil de l’Europe.