May 2004

Welcome to this month’s L’Epée Coaching & Consulting Newsletter. A warm welcome to our newest readers, and as always, warm appreciation to our long-time readers.

Since spring has always been time to review and reflect on projects begun at the beginning of the year, I thought the time was right to evaluate the numerous workshops and training programs I have developed over the years.

Communication has always been the thread running through the issues I’ve worked on during the past 6 years. The development of new communication techniques during the course of the twentieth century had a profound effect on man’s relationship to his world and those around him.

However, it is dangerous to mistake mankind’s capacity to communicate for communication itself. As the technology of communication becomes more powerful, the differences between cultures become more distinct. Technical progress by itself is not enough to support the progress of human and social communication.

Today we define communication as:

  1. Human Communication:Without communication individuals or collectivities don’t exist. Communication entails an interaction with an individual or a group of people.
  2. Communication Techniques:the last century transformed the world of remote communication into a world of direct communication. Unfortunately, as technology reduced the geographical distances, it also made cultural distances more apparent.
  3. Social or Functional Communication:Functional communication is a necessity for interdependent countries and economies to interact with each other. Its main objective is efficiency.

As it becomes easier to communicate because of the new technology available (i.e., telephone, Internet, TV), we are constantly reminded of the misunderstandings this ability to communicate can create. Therefore, we should always remember that the technology of communication can just as easily divide men as unite them.

How does your style of communication promote or prohibit understanding?


May 6 The League of Human Rights Benefit Concert
May 10 WIB – Women in Business dinner at Mlynec
May 12 Intercultural Power Lunch: Relationships to people Part I
May 15 Leadership & Emotions Part II Workshop for MBA’s students at the Masaryk Institute for Advanced Studies
May 18 The Better Management Society Luncheon
May 26 Intercultural Power Lunch: Relationships to people Part II
June 7 WIB – Women in Business dinner at Mlynec
June 8 ASTD Professional Development Series Dinner
June 9 Intercultural Power Lunch: Communications patterns
June 16 The Better Management Society Luncheon

Communication Tip of the Month: Intercultural Relationships in the Czech Republic

Thirty years ago, cross-cultural and intercultural training was considered to be an idea of marginal value. Today it has as achieved mainstream acceptance and is appreciated worldwide as a means of easing culture shock and improving international business relations.

In the Czech Republic, cross-cultural management skills have become increasingly important in light of the country’s entry into the European Union and the fact that a large part of Czech industry is owned and managed by foreign companies.

On April 15th, during my first Intercultural Power Lunch, I stressed the importance of accepting, adapting, integrating and leveraging differences in bridging cultural gaps. The Czech character, however, compels me to suggest that in addition to those skills, one might try a good dose of patience and sense of humor when working in this country.

Patience because Czechs, like their German neighbors, have a fastidious relationship to time and expect things to be carried out in a sequential and precise order. This is particularly important to bear in mind when delegating. Equally important is providing thorough instructions as to your expectations. Though the same approach would be seen as something of an affront by other nationalities, the systematic nature of the Czechs often necessitates that expectations clearly explained.

A good sense of hum our is also essential when working with Czechs and is far more effective than trying to work a position of assumed authority. The Czech people have had a long and complex history and have always resented being imposed upon by outside powers. Czechs are measured and deliberate when communicating, rarely interrupting and often giving little feedback while in conversation. As relations become more familiar, Czechs have a natural and easy sense of hum our.

However, in spite of their proven creativity and resourcefulness, Czechs can sometimes appear unaccommodating. Foreign managers often grumble that when faced with an unexpected challenge, a Czech’s first reaction is to declare ?gIt’s impossible!?h This initial response stems not from laziness but rather a lack of confidence. Czechs are perfectionists by nature and have a tendency to avoid risking their reputation with the new or unconventional.

With a complex national history and an astute worldview, Czechs have much to offer their foreign colleagues. Like other nationalities, Czechs have a particular style of working and associating with those around them. Patience and a sense of hum our will go far in ensuring effective and productive working relationships, as will a desire to better know the character of a unique country.

Yours truly,Karin