Training in a diverse environment

Culture affects knowledge, understanding and behaviour
By Judith Bond
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 11/29/2007

At one of my training sessions, I looked around and noticed nearly everyone was making eye contact, nodding, leaning forward — all indications they were engaged in what I was saying. But one gentleman was leaning back in his chair, arms folded and eyes closed. I feared I had lost him.

Later on, I learned that in his culture he was paying me a compliment. By blocking his other senses — eyes closed, hands folded — he was more open to my words.

Assumptions about an audience are easy to make based on past experience. But these assumptions can get a trainer in trouble and affect the success or failure of training. The Canadian workforce is made up of employees from many different cultures and ethnicities, all with different training expectations and experiences.