Reflexive Communication in the Culturally Diverse Workplace

Reflexive Communication in the Culturally Diverse Workplace

Reflexive Communication in the Culturally Diverse Workplace

Reflexive Communication in the Culturally Diverse Workplace


America's rapid and drastically changing demographics pose new challenges to society and particularly to the workplace. Taking as their theme that "The only antidote to stereotyping and discrimination is to know each other as individuals," the authors look carefully at the direction in which America is heading demographically and where it will be in the 21st century. They discuss what the workplace will be like and how it will be affected by the characteristics of the people who will comprise it. The essence of the problem, say the authors, is communication--the face-to-face interaction between people of different ethnicities, races, and genders. They may be speaking to each other but are not being heard. Exploring the relationship between culture, communication and management, this new research in management introduces and applies the theory of 'Reflexive Communication' and the microskills necessary for using it in day-to-day work situations. The authors lay out the patterns of culture-specific values and behaviors of the major demographic groups in the workplace--white males, women, African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asian Americans. In each of these chapters the authors apply their theory and show step-by-step how individuals within each group can be accessed and trained by the precepts of 'Reflexive Communication'. The book concludes with a thoughtful examination of the future of diversity and diversity training in America and reasserts the need for people of differing cultures to find ways to work together, not only for their own personal benefit, but for the benefit of their workplaces and organizations.


Diversity has become an increasingly important issue to every individual, manager, and organization in America. White males already are a rapidly shrinking percentage of the work force while the numbers of women and minorities are increasing. This demographic shift has generated a dramatic response. Numerous publications and training approaches have flooded the market in an effort to meet the challenges that changing demographics pose to the workplace.

We, too, have been drawn to the challenge that diversity presents. This book is a response. It is the result of traditional scholarly research as well as reflections and conversations that were leavened by the qualitative research that we have conducted.

The participants who were interviewed represented the major demographic groups of the American work force. They varied by gender, ethnicity, race, and position. The interviewees were white collar executives and managers from informational, service, financial, and manufacturing organizations in the northeastern United States. To encourage candor and genuineness of response, the participants were assured of confidentiality and anonymity. Therefore, any contextualizing or identifying information has been altered to conceal the identity of these individuals and organizations.

During these interviews, the researchers were struck by the participants' levels of frustration and eagerness for change. Both women and minorities frequently registered their disappointment with the exclusionary climate that generally prevailed where they work. This left them on . . .

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