Intercultural Communication for the World Affairs Council-Austin

Intercultural Communication for the World Affairs Council-Austin

By Sharon Schweitzer, Polina Anastassieva


On Wednesday, May 15th, in partnership with the World Affairs Council of Austin, I had the pleasure to speak about Intercultural Communication at the Neill Cochran Museum in Austin, Texas. I was delighted to be invited to speak on this topic. Since this subject can be quite complex to initiate, as an ice breaker, I asked the audience to participate in a US cultural quiz on some misconceptions about the United States. For example, does US culture tend toward individualism or collectivism? Which three countries use the Imperial system of measurement as opposed to the Metric measurement system? How many times zones does the US have compared to China?

Throughout my presentation, I covered several different cultural models because there are numerous ways to analyze culture as it may be observed on multiple levels. Specifically, I shared a broad overview Rowe and Gardenschwartz, Richard Lewis Model, Hofstede Centre, Erin Meyer, Fons Trompenaars, Edward Hall, and Harvard Business Review. Different approaches appeal to people based on their backgrounds and cultural conditioning.

The audience was interactive and inquisitive. The questions included how to approach difficult conversations about race, differences in culture such as greetings, doing business, and contract negotiation, as well as direct and indirect style of communication. In addition, there were several scenarios where audience members requested clarification about specific parts of the world such as Japan, China, Malaysia, and Central Europe. Personally, the most rewarding part of the evening was responding to questions and hypotheticals as I do not ever know quite what to expect. This intellectual challenge keeps me hopping!


Photo by https://wacaustin.org/

Sharon Schweitzer JD, is a diversity and inclusion consultant, cross-cultural trainer, etiquette expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE Centre, she is an attorney and mediator. Sharon served as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business,  Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, won a coveted Kirkus Star, and was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books. She’s a winner of numerous awards, including the British Airways International Trade Award at the Greater Austin Business Awards.

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Polina Anastassieva, is a compliance, fraud prevention and detection, and risk management analyst, as well as an international business consultant. Polina is also an entrepreneur and a writer, her blog, specifically focuses on understanding international topics such as trade, culture, foreign affairs, and conducting business around the globe. She has also been featured on St. Edward’s University‘s alumni website, as a distinguished member and supporter for the community. Additionally, she is on the board of World Affairs Council of Austin.

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