At the Franco-British Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Paris
This article was first published by FBCCI on their website
Around 20 people gathered at the Chamber on Tuesday morning to listen to Guy Bondonneau, a multi-cultural management consultant from WCT Cross-Cultural, deliver a talk on cross-cultural communication in the modern world.
He cleverly started his presentation on communication with a few moments of silence, and then stating that his mission is to avoid these very silences that inherently imply misunderstanding and poor communication. Guy illustrated cultural patterns of communication and silence – highlighting the mores of different cultures. The very basis of his presentation was how to avoid this misunderstanding when two cultures come to work together in corporate management scenarios.
He very much played on his own experience of having been influenced by many different cultures: a Swedish mother, French father, growing up in Uruguay (which he incidentally calls “home”), studying civil engineering in Switzerland and eventually residing in the UK. He demonstrated his insider knowledge of these different countries, languages and cultures through anecdotes and jokes. Engaging in a fun game with the audience “translating” what British people actually mean, joking about the British understatement.
When working in a multi-cultural management setting Guy used a graph to explore the spectrum of possible approaches, ranging from “cultural avoidance and dominance” to “cultural compromise and accommodation” and finally the ideal, “cultural synergy”: a mutually beneficial state for both parties. This relationship demonstrates its benefits through better team work, leadership and negotiation.
Whether it be working as a civil engineer, or a consultant, Guy’s aim is to build bridges - a metaphor used throughout his presentation to highlight the union of cultures and most definitely not building walls and denying integration.