Here is an excerpt of a fascinating article by our own Jan Vincent Meertens Intercultural Coaching that highlights some of the difficulties in intercultural communication and poteantial consequences therein.

“Let’s check out the scene. The men and women of the Chinese Search and Rescue Team, in orange overalls, took position at the collapsed building where the search dog had lingered and finally barked. Commander Chen gave orders and the group divided into small teams of two or three. The German meds stood back. Two Chinese cordoned off the scene and two others moved slowly across the rubble in order to get as close as possible to where the dog had indicated. They inserted a search cam into the debris and manoeuvred it slowly through the available voids towards the victim whose scent the dog had picked up. The woman was traced within a few minutes.

The international rescue team was then faced with a monumental task. The victim could have broken bones or, worse, face the threat of a crush syndrome. The team knew from the classroom session that this is when the body releases toxins in response to massive and sustained injuries that overwhelm the kidneys as they try to flush them out. One of the medics, a German female doctor, entered the unsecure scene too quickly. When Commander Chen failed to stop her, Wim growled, making her back off and wait for the ‘scene safe’ call. Wim felt sorry for the woman, but safety comes first…”

You can read the entire article on Jan Vincent’s own blog:

Key insights


The example of a team exercise involving  members from various countries and a time sensitive and life threatening situation.


Now What?

Make sure you know the culture well but also the character of each of your team member to be able to effectively manage them.

With educational systems embracing cultural diversity, knowledge will flow more freely, stimulating a healthy, global, learning curve.
Jan Vincent Meertens