To illustrate how cultural differences create misunderstandings in communication
Individuals who must communicate with people in or from other countries or cultures. This
activity works ideally for groups of 20, at the most.
Copies of Handouts 1 – 5: “The Five Dialogues,” for each participant
1. Briefly explain what a dialogue is:
“A dialogue is a brief conversation between two speakers. One or more cultural differ-
ences can cause a misunderstanding. These dialogues will show how cultural differences
interfere with and often prevent successful communication, and why learning about other
cultures is, therefore, so important.
“A dialogue is not merely an example or illustration of a cultural difference (though it is
that, too): It is also a kind of puzzle, written in such a way that the misunderstanding is
not readily apparent to the reader and is usually not apparent to the speakers. In most
cases, the conversation seems completely innocuous; reading between the lines provides
some indication of misunderstanding.”
This feature makes dialogue especially useful in training, because participants are usually
quite eager to “crack” the dialogue and figure out what actually occurred.
2. Go over one of the dialogues together so that participants will understand how they work
and what they should be looking for. Select one and assign two people to read the two
parts. Then ask them what they saw or what they think was going on. If they don’t
uncover the cultural difference, then supply it for them. (5 minutes)