We talked last time about these four dimensions of communication: the factual side, the appeal side, the relationship, and the self-disclosure. We want to focus on the last two a little bit more, because in an intercultural context, they're often a little bit more tricky. They’re about the subtleties of the conversation. Exactly, maybe because of that subtlety sometimes people also pay less attention to them. They are not focused on the facts, they focus on the appeal and what they want to get out of conversation, but not necessarily on those subtleties. Let's start with the self-disclosure. This is often the first thing that the people have to judge you. It’s what you let them know verbally or non-verbally about yourself. They form these impressions really quickly. Let's see what impressions you form quickly. We only have one time to make a first impression. Exactly, so I'm going to try to make a first impression to you twice… Okay. Hello. Hello. Second time. Serj! Hey! Such a great chance to see you here. Yeah, you too… Wonderful, nice to meet you. You noticed a clear difference, right? You noticed a clear difference, right? Yeah, there was a difference, subtle, but it's there. How did you judge it? What impression did you form? The first one had very little energy. It was very distant, and the second one was on the other side of the spectrum. Maybe too much. Maybe too much, yeah. I didn't say much, but there were a whole lot of things that you probably noticed not just in the way that I said hello. Mm-hm. But the timing of it, the voice, the body language as well. People have this great word for this, People have this great word for this, they say that you have a “leaky body language.” Uh-huh. It displays a lot about you and how you feel. You probably got a lot of this low energy that you described out of the body language. Right. That I didn't seem engaged the first time. Proximity is another thing; so personal distance. Mm-hm. How did you feel? I was uncomfortable with both. Too far, too close? One was too far and one was too close. Exactly, right. There are body language experts out there that focus only on helping people navigate how particular body language is interpreted in different cultural settings. The point is you can't help self disclose, even if you’re not talking. You're still saying something about yourself that—-. There's always something. There's always something even if I'm not saying anything, that still creates a certain impression on you, right, I’m disclosing that I don't feel comfortable speaking or something like that. Mm-hm. That's what happens naturally, but you can be deliberate about this. You can disclose what it is that you want, what it is that you value, what it is that makes you effective as a leader and that can help others. Management guru Peter Drucker once said that's one of the key responsibilities that you have as a leader is to actually let others know what you need to be effective to be a good leader for them. That's something that you want to think about. Every time you communicate verbally or non-verbally, see it as an opportunity to actually share with people something about yourself, so that they understand who you are and where you're coming from. It doesn't mean that you have to talk like a waterfall. I know it's funny coming from a guy like me. I know it's funny coming from a guy like me. Even just not telling you my whole life story but suggesting that you're open and interested in input and learning from others can be very powerful. You take yourself back a little bit but that already says a lot. Mm-hm. What you disclose about yourself is, not just giving others something to know something about you, it's also that you give them cues about how to behave towards you. Mm-hm. So they have an orientation of maybe what your expectations are for the interaction purely based on what you want to tell them about yourself, essentially. Erving Goffman who has looked at these kinds of interactions very closely called that face work. People claim a particular face for themselves. Then in the action they see whether others grant them that face, which is to say they want to have a particular image or a particular-. Social status. Social status, and value attached. He actually explained how this works very nicely in “The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life.” Saying that when an individual enters the presence of others they commonly seek to acquire information about him. Others want that information. They will be interested in general socio-economic status, conceptions of self, attitude towards them and competence, trustworthiness, all that. The information about the individual helps others to define the situation, you know, what it is that we're currently doing here. It enables them to know in advance what he or she will expect of them and what they may expect of him. That's the idea, you give people an orientation for what behavior might be acceptable and might be effective as they're addressing you. That's why I want to self disclose. Also unacceptable though… Yeah, you establish boundaries so to speak. This face work in every day communication, especially with people that you know doesn't really feel like you're doing anything, because you're claiming a face that you're used to with people that know you. That two parties already agree on what it is. The relationship doesn’t need to be worked on anymore. You don't notice that you work on it, You still do it, but since the face is granted, there’s no emotional response from you. You don't even notice it. You notice it if you try to claim more for yourself and it gets rejected. Mm-hm. If all of the sudden I want to be recognized as the world's biggest genius, others say, “Yeeeaaah, you know?” “Let's talk about that.” “Let's talk about that.” I have an emotional reaction to it. I notice that I try to work towards something that's rejected. Mm-hm. It can be positive, Sometimes, surprisingly people recognize you for something that you didn't think was much and, and that gives you more face than you thought you could get. It's a positive emotional response. Right. In your circle of friends, do you think there's a little variance in terms of kind of reactions to what you do? Probably not. We’re so used to the way that we interact with each other, We don't need a way to change. We don't need a way to change. Maybe you don't need a way to change, and there's a habitual way of interacting as you said. There's a limited number of faces that you show your friends, and that they know of you and they accept. Right. “I’m frustrated at work.” That's a face. ?Let's go out and party.” That's a face. They know both, there's no surprise there. In an intercultural setting though, very different. People don't know you as much. You don't exactly know how they will react. There are different standards. There are different standards. You have to feel out what is appropriate, how do people react to a face that I'm claiming? In those contexts, you actually want to think strategically about what it is that you're disclosing I find it helpful to think: is it depth of disclosure or breadth of disclosure that you're going for? There are uncertainties about what kind of responses I should get in an intercultural setting from self-disclosure. Mm-hm. That's why you want to pay attention to it. Let's take an example: would you disclose weaknesses of yourself in an intercultural setting? Probably not. The way that I see it is that if I'm in an intercultural setting I don't know what weaknesses are acceptable for the others or what weaknesses aren’t; whereas in my culture I'm pretty comfortable with it and I know what is and is not acceptable so I would probably do it more often. People often do that—-reveal weaknesses for strategic reasons. They want to be more relatable, they want to disclose that they have some humility and that might work in your own culture and works to a certain degree in my own as well, but it’s not universally accepted. If you don't have that certainty you're getting a little bit concerned. Right. What should I disclose? What shouldn’t I? That's a meaning barrier that people have. What meaning do people attach to things that I disclose about myself? Okay. Even if I get that across properly in pure language terms. But then there's also the language barrier, it can actually expressing properly in a language that's not your own. Which is the more mechanical side of it, it seems like-. To some degree, but there is there is a critical feminist communication theory called the Muted Group that makes everyone's section not bad not that mechanical because language is constructed by people and the argument they make is, it’s constructed by men. So women can't properly express in the language, because it doesn't have the right vocabulary for them to express their experiences. That's why they are the muted group and something very similar happens if you use a different language that is not your language. It wasn't constructed by your culture, so really expressing what you mean is problematic. You might call that mechanical, but it's not trivial. Okay, yeah, no, not at all. no, not at all. Despite those problems of meeting various language barriers one of the things that almost universally works that I always encourage people stress when they self disclose, is to try to find things that you have in common; stress commonalities. We know that people take that seriously, from the smallest things. So if I attach A little red square on you Okay. I'll do that for me too. All of a sudden we notice, “Look at that you also have a red square!” We are both red square guys. Immediately we have a relationship. Yeah. You are laughing about this but, it has been shown that people take the oddest things, the minimal cue to actually establish a positive relationship. Any kind of common ground is latched on on. is latched on on. “You like cats? I like cats too!” Anything can help to the degree that your self-disclosure can help establish that for a common ground. It usually works as a starting point across cultures. Exactly. We've seen that relationships can emerge out of the self-disclosure that you make. What you tell others about yourself gives them a chance to discover that maybe you speak the same language, that there are commonalities, the red dots for example. Red dot guys. Red dot guys. It’s also something that you do more directly, As a leader you can talk specifically and deliberately about the relationships that you would want with others; the dyadic relationships, or relationships in a group. You can create maintain and modify those relationships through what you say in a very deliberate manner. For example, by deliberately stressing commonalities in a group you would highlight those commonalities as something that brings you together as a team. Or by talking about the value of diversity in a group you would basically valorize those that are a little bit different but make them feel included in the group. clearly you can share expectations and standards for relationships that you have with followers. How much input you want, how open you are to participation and all that. So this idea that that communication helps shape relationships is actually a very old one. There was a 14th century important scholar in Italy Petrarca, this should be right up your alley. He was a scholar of the classics, he actually revitalized and re-discovered them. His argument was that the greatest achievement of the Roman Empire was that they had this civic discourse, the public life was very active. People participated and communicated with each other; and through that co-created society. There was the idea that through a particular communication culture you shape the moral character of the group and/or community, and engage them to really contribute towards the well-being of that community. I think that's a really nice ideal to have even today, you want to encourage people to contribute. Petrarca said that if you only think for yourself, write for yourself, and never talk to anybody; that's a crime because you're wasting your capability. You want to be fully engaged with all your capacities to contribute towards. Get yourself and get your thoughts out there. Exactly. I think that's a nice orientation point, it encourages leaders to really use language to shape the bonds that they have with followers, to encourage them also to re-conceptualize their role as followers as active participants and active contributors. Clearly construing relationship is not a one way street, It’s not just you willing a particular relationship into being, you negotiate it with others. It's two-sided. In an intercultural context often it's a bit of a negotiation and management of dialectical tensions that that exist across cultures. One of those is actually tension between wanting to be connected and wanting to have some distance, we're balancing that. Which is similar to the concept of both positive and negative face. Where positive face is wanting good social standing in whatever context you are, but with negative face you want a good autonomy in whatever situation you are. It's a balance between the two. Exactly, status comes from affiliation, and the autonomy, clearly you want a little bit of independence. Mm-hm. The second tension that also very often you find that you negotiate is openness and privacy. What is the right amount of sharing that is acceptable in a group? In the US that's something very—-. Yeah, we're very keen on not giving much information about any topics. Not too much, right? Right. Just the right amount. You even use it as an acronym—-. T.M.I. T.M.I. Too much information, when you feel like, “Okay, that's too much.” The last one is the predictability and novelty in the relationship. You don't want complete routine, you want a little bit of novelty, you also don't want to surprise people completely, so the relationship all of the sudden seems to change. Mm-hm. For example you know me in a certain capacity there are certain behaviors that you would anticipate and maybe I change that a little bit there's a little bit of novelty, But you know me as a German academic motor mouth. If I, all of the sudden, start telling salacious jokes that would a bit weird. Yeah, I’d say so. Then you don’t know what the relationship really is so that doesn’t help in building. You want to negotiate what the right balance is there. Mm-hm. The relationship building and maintenance is a dialogue with others. Clearly followers have an impact on the relationship that a leader establishes with the bond that the leader establishes with them; but it goes further, they actually also have an impact on how you perceive yourself. The extreme view of that would be that you actually only know yourself through the interactions with others. That's similar to an Italian author, Pirandello, who one of his key concepts was the concept of the mask. Mm-hm. This mask is basically different for every person who looks at you and you are no one other than these masks for other people. Yeah, you don't even know yourself beyond, what those collected perceptions are. My favorite example is also literary, one that you know for sure: Tarzan. Tarzan is raised with complete ignorance that he is a man, and he only knows himself as an ape. as an ape. As a weird ape, but he doesn't know anything else beyond that. Only later does he learns the truth. That's the idea, and I find that very important. for communication in an intercultural setting that is exactly why you want to engage with others and not draw back. Even if you feel a little uncertain because of the language barriers or the meaning barriers that there are you want to engage with others because that's how you get to know yourself in that context. Right. That's where you learn and where you get all the value of being in a multicultural setting from. If you don't do that you don't get anything back. There is nothing that you can learn about yourself that can be helpful. You lose the emancipation that you can get out of being abroad and having that contact with others. That would be a shame because that's the key value. Mm-hm. For me that is really one of the key reasons why you want to pay close attention to how it is that you're communicating, that you’re engaging others. Through the four sides of the message if you will particularly with attention to can this self-statement and the kind of the relationship Mm-hm. dimension to establish this rich dialogue so that others benefit, but also you personally. Right.