Observation of team behavior: intercultural and interpersonal communication
In the recent weeks, there has been an ongoing “Allah” dispute in Malaysia which I believe many of you are well-aware of. It was mainly due to a court verdict that allowed non-Muslims to use "Allah" as a translation for "God" in the Malay language which has led to violent exchanges mainly between the Christians and Muslim.
The scenario above is a distinct example of conflict arising from the difference in beliefs of two different sub-cultures as well as lack of interpersonal and intercultural communication in resolving the issue at hand. However, I felt that this conflict could have been resolved or even avoided if both sides had adopted a cultural relativism approach instead of ethnocentrism towards the issue .
If we were to place the crux of the above problem in the context of a team with members from various cultural backgrounds, I believed that possessing intercultural communication skills is the key to success in a team. This is because different cultures may have contrasting beliefs and perspective pertaining to different issues which may lead to a clash of ideas in a team and possibly evoke a conflict. However, if we are able to practice intercultural sensitivity and tolerance, we can then mediate any differences amicably that may prevent the team from functioning at its optimal level.
Personally, I have also committed a grave blunder recently by teasing my friend, calling her a “pig”. It was only then that I realized I had forgotten she was a Malay, but she was kind enough not to take it to heart. Upon reflection, I realized the importance of the need to be aware of certain taboos when we are communicating with people from a different cultural background and it is only when we develop intercultural and interpersonal skills can there be effective communication.