Cultural Quick Tip: Pay Attention to Non-Verbal Communication

When new parents first bring home their baby, they are faced with many new communication challenges as they try to understand and meet the needs of their newborn. Without verbal communication parents must rely upon observable types of communication in the form of facial expressions, cries and body movements. Parents have a vested interest in learning to decode their child’s nonverbal communication, as it will help them to raise a healthy and happy baby. While your colleagues in the workplace communicate both verbally and non-verbally, understanding how to interpret their nonverbal communication can be a great advantage. Keep in mind that the meaning behind body language and facial expressions may vary from culture to culture, so it is always good to check for understanding.

Action Step:
Research communication etiquette from other cultures to aid your understanding when communicating with people from outside your country or culture.

Generational Quick Tip: Generational Motivation

Each generation is inspired by different values and incentives in the workplace that encourage them to work productively and enthusiastically. Traditionalists are motivated by being respected and told that their experience and contributions matter to the company. They are also motivated by the promise of job security.  Baby-boomers appreciate being told that they are of value to a company and that their skills are needed in order for the company to be successful. They are also motivated by the opportunity to earn high wages, raises, promotions, and benefits. Getting time off and the freedom to complete tasks and projects independently without micro-management or strenuous rules, motivates Generation X. Generation Y is inspired by training opportunities, working in dynamic groups, and flexibility in scheduling. They greatly appreciate time-off, as well as opportunities to volunteer and give back to the community. Understanding how to motivate employees from different generations is important in successfully hiring new employees, improving retention rates, and increasing overall productivity.

Action Step
If you are a manager, at your next check-in with your employees ask questions to assess their current motivation level.  Investigate if there is anything that you can adjust in order to connect the employee with a cause that motivates them and helps them to do their best work.

Significant People of a Generation: Gen X – Michael Jackson

   “Think about the generations and to say we want to make it a better world for our children and our children’s children. So that they know it’s a better world for them; and think if they can make it a better place.”  Intro lyrics to “Heal the World” from Jackson’s 1991 album Dangerous

Michael Jackson is an American music icon, who rose to unbelievable fame during the 1980s. Know as the “King of Pop,” Jackson was an inspiration to people of many races and generations, but particularly to the Gen X generation, who were coming of age during the height of his career. If Generation X was the MTV generation, Michael Jackson is accredited as being the first artist to use the music video genre to break racial barriers and produce a stylized art form.

Michael Jackson was born on August 29, 1958 in Gary, Indiana. He was the eighth child out of ten children: Maureen “Rebbie,” Sigmund “Jackie,” Toriano “Tito,” Jermaine, La Toya, Marlon, Brandon, Michael, Steven “Randy,” and Janet. The Jacksons were a working-class family, sharing a three-bedroom house. In 1964, Michael, Marlon, Jackie, Tito and Jermaine formed a band called the “Jackson Brothers” later called the “ The Jackson 5.” Their father, Joseph, was known for using abusive and brutal tactics during rehearsals. Later in life, Jackson attributed many of his psychological issues to the abuse he received as a child, but he also argued that his father’s strict discipline contributed greatly to his success.

At the age of eight, Michael Jackson began to share the lead vocals with his brother Jermaine. In 1966, the “Jackson 5” won a major talent contest in the Mid-West and recorded several songs for the local Steeltown label in 1967, followed by a contract with Motown Records in 1968.  The group set a record when their first four singles (“I Want You Back,” “ABC,” “The Love You Save,” and “I’ll Be There”) all skyrocketed to number one. As lead vocalist, Michael was praised as being a prodigy and his charismatic and magnetic personality on stage made him a nationwide star.

In 1975, the Jackson 5 left Motown and Michael separated to pursue a solo career. In 1978, he partnered up with songwriter Quincy Jones, a musical collaboration that would last for the rest of Jackson’s life. Together they produced several albums that skyrocketed Michael Jackson’s into the position of pop superstar. Off the Wall, their first album recorded in 1979, included contributions from famous artists such as Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney and won Jackson three awards at the AMAs. In 1982, his album Thriller was released, and quickly became the best-selling album of all time, selling 42.3 million copies. The album included such hits as “Billie Jean,” “Beat It,” “Thriller,” and “P.Y.T” and earned Jackson seven Grammys and eight AMAs. The music video for Thriller was the first and only music video ever to be inducted into the National Film Registry.

In 1983, Michael Jackson performed at the Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever TV special. The legendary performance debuted Jackson in the iconic sequined black jacket, single rhinestone glove, and introduced his moonwalk dance move to the world.  The impact of the performance has been compared to the Beatles performance on the Ed Sullivan show.  Michael Jackson was famous not only for his catchy songs and singing voice, but also for being one of the most talented dancers, choreographers, and overall performers of all time. Many considered Michael Jackson’s music videos and stage productions to be works of art.

As well as becoming a superstar during the 1980s, Michael Jackson devoted much of his influence to philanthropic causes. He donated $1.5 million to the creation of the “Michael Jackson Burn Center” in Culver City, California, after a pyrotechnics accident left him with second-degree burns on his scalp. In 1985, Jackson and Lionel Richie released “We Are the World,” a charity single created to raise awareness and money for people suffering from poverty in the U.S. and Africa.  Other songs, such as “Man in the Mirror” 1988, “Heal the World” 1991, and “Black or White” 1991 are examples of Michael Jackson’s inspirational musical contributions towards social equality and change.  In 1992, Michael Jackson founded the Heal the World Foundation, which donated millions of dollars to help children in poverty around the world. He was also one of the first major celebrities and public figure to speak about AIDs/HIV and to publicly promote charities and research in a time when the stigma surrounding the topic was very controversial.

Along with his great musical and philanthropic successes, Michael Jackson suffered many personal controversies towards the end of his career. Rumors and speculations about his bizarre private life, plastic surgery, and skin color, painted Jackson as mentally unstable. Allegations of pedophilia arose during the 90s, and reemerged in the 2003 People vs. Jackson trial, which found Jackson unanimously not-guilty on all counts. However, despite his health issues and unfavorable public image, Jackson planned on completing his final world tour This is It in 2009. The concert had record-breaking ticket sales, selling over one million tickets in less than two hours.  However, on June 25, 2009, Michael Jackson died suddenly of cardiac arrest in his bed in a rented mansion in L.A.

When news of Michael Jackson’s death surfaced, the immediate response of fans and media worldwide was monumental. The overload of simultaneous website searches resulted in crashes for major media sources such as twitter, Wikipedia, TMZ, and the LA Times. News coverage lasted for weeks, tribute concerts popped up all over the world, and over 31 million people tuned in to watch Jackson’s memorial service. Posthumously in 2009, Jackson became the best-selling album artist and was the first artist to sell over 1 million song downloads in a week.

Over his career, he was awarded the World Music Award’s Best-Selling Pop Male Artist of the Millennium, 13 Grammy Awards (as well as the Grammy Legend and Grammy Lifetime Achievement Awards), and has earned 31 Guinness World Records. Many fans and critics believe that Jackson was a genius and one of the most influential artists of all time. For the Gen X generation that witnessed his amazing accomplishments and listened to his messages of hope, he was a beloved and mysterious icon, linked intrinsically with their coming-of-age.

Generational Quick Tip: Taking Risks

Whether or not a generation is prone to taking risks is a part of their cultural filter.  Being an “intrapreneur” means being an employee who brings an entrepreneurial spirit to a company and is not afraid to spend time working on “risky” projects: exploring uncharted territory and taking on challenging projects outside their area of expertise. But how does each of generation stack up when it comes to viewing themselves as entrepreneurs? According to a recent study, 45% of Baby-boomers believe that they have an entrepreneurial spirit are willing to take risks, while 42% of the Gen X generation feels they are entrepreneurial. However, only 32% of Gen Y identifies as being entrepreneurial.

Action Step:
To foster “intrapreneurial” drive in your company, create mentoring pairs between Baby-boomers or Gen X with a Gen Y colleague to help Gen Y increase the confidence in their entrepreneurial spirit and to bring a fresh perspective on projects.

Diversity Statistics

  • As of 2010, the most diverse communities in the US are disproportionately western, southern and coastal metropolitan areas and their principal cities and suburbs.
  • In 1900, only 1 in 8 residents of the US claimed non-European origins. Today 3 in 10 do.
    Source: 2010 Census

Growth of the Hispanic Population by County from 2000 to 2010
Top 5 Counties:
1) Stewart County, GA            1740%
2) Telfair Country, GA            842%
3) Beadle County, SD              762%
4) Adams Country, MS             687%
5) Trempealeau County, WI    594%
Source: Pew Hispanic Center analysis
of Decennial Censuses

Latinos are the nation’s biggest and youngest minority group.  They make up:

  • 16% of the total US population
  • 18% of all 16- to 25-year-olds
  • 20% of all school age children
  • 25% of newborns

Source: Pew Hispanic Center

2010 Census Demographics

  • 308.7 million US residents
  • 16% of US population Hispanic
(50.5 million)
  • Hispanic population grew by 43% from 2000 to 2010
  • White non-Hispanic population
grew by 1% from 2000 to 2010
  • 97% of people reported belonging
to only one race72% White alone (223.6 million)
  • 72% White alone
(223.6 million)
  • 13% Black or African-American alone
(38.9 million)
  • 5% Asian alone (14.7 million)
  •   0.9% American Indian and Alaska Native alone
(2.9 million)
  • 0.2% Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone (500,000)

Source: US Census

Generational Quotes

“Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations. All this is put in your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it on to your children.”
-Albert Einstein

“Anyone who stops is old, whether at 20 or at 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”
-Henry Ford

“If future generations are to remember
us more with gratitude than sorrow,
we must achieve more than just the miracles of technology. We must also leave them a glimpse of the world as
it was created, not just as it looked
when we got through with it.”
-Lyndon B. Johnson, 36th US President

“Use your lives wisely, my friends, and conserve these precious freedoms for future generations.”
-Ted Nugent, Musician

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them
to do the same.”
-Ronald Reagan, 40th US President

Cultural Quick Tip: Use a Mediator to Help Stalemates

A referee’s job requires them to be an impartial expert on the game, clear headed and capable of fairly applying the rules. During games, it would be impossible for coaches, players, and fans to make unbiased calls without a referee. Similarly, in high-pressure work environments, differences between colleagues may lead to disputes that make it impossible for them to see past their biases, resulting in a conflict or stalemate. In these instances, asking for the assistance of a ‘referee’ or a neutral, third party colleague, may provide the necessary insight to tease out the cause of the miscommunication, which could be rooted in cultural, generational or personality style differences.

Action Step:
Reach out to an impartial referee to help resolve communication conflicts in a productive way when an impasse occurs.

Generational Quick Tip: Generational Skill Sets

Every generation has special work assets that they bring to the workplace and to their teams. Understanding these special talents and providing opportunities for employees from each generation to foster their skills can greatly improve their individual work experience and can bring success and improved results to the team or company.  Traditionalists are very consistent, loyal, and detail oriented. They bring the wisdom of experience in the workplace, which can provide a needed prospective on new problems.  Baby-boomers are great at seeing the big picture and are able to break down the big picture into assignments, which makes them great team leaders. Generation X are great task managers and multi-taskers; very independent workers, they will produce high-quality results with little direction when given the right tools. Generation Y have a positive attitude, and thrive off from collaboration. They are highly competent with technology and capable of fast multitasking.

Action Step:
When working with an employee from a different generation, try to identify one of their strong skill sets and share it with the team.

Canada Day: July 1

Canada Day

Canada day is the national day of Canada and is an official national bank holiday and paid workday. Every year, the holiday is celebrated on July 1 to commemorate the anniversary of the British North American Act signed on July 1,1867. This act, known today as the 1867 Constitution Act, joined  the three British colonies Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the Province of Canada (now Ontario and Quebec) to form a new, single country called Canada. As well as creating the new country Canada as a member of the British Empire, it also set out the detailed constitutional groundwork for Canada’s government, including the taxation system, justice system, and federal structure.

History of Canada Day

Canada Day has been an official holiday in Canada since its creation in 1879 when it was known as Dominion Day. However, it was not until the 1950s that the holiday began to be widely celebrated. As the holiday grew in popularity, there was some controversy as to the name of the holiday. Many believed that Dominion Day sounded to pejoratively colonial, while traditionalists believed changing the name to Canada Day would be an affront to the British Empire. In 1967, Canada celebrated their centennial as a country, which greatly increased Canadian patriotism. The passing of the 1982 Constitution Act that changed Canada from a dominion of the British Empire to an independent country of the Commonwealth, also greatly increased Canadian patriotism. On October 27. 1982, the holiday was changed to Canada Day.

How Canada Day is Celebrated

Canada Day is celebrated throughout Canada. When July 1 falls on either a Saturday or Sunday, the celebrations employees are granted July 2 as the holiday from work. Much like the Fourth of July celebrations in the United States, Canadians like to celebrate Canada Day with outdoor activities such as street hockey, parades, barbecues, firework shows, free musical concerts, etc. In Ottawa, Ontario (the capital of Canada), the prime minister officiates the live concerts and displays of Canadian cultural pride on Parliament Hill.

June 24: Anniversary of the Battle of Carabobo (Venezuela)

Battle of Carabobo

The Battle of Carabobo was the most significant battle and subsequent victory of the Venezuelan ‘War of Independence’ from Spain.  The historic battle was fought in Carabobo on June 24, 1821 between Independence fighters and Royalist Spanish forces. The Independence fighters numbered 6,000 men and were lead by the famous General Simon Bolivar, while Spanish Field Marshal Miguel de la Torre led about 4,000 armed Royalists.

Venezuelan War for Independence

Battle of Carabobo

Battle of Carabobo

Venezuela declared their formal independence from Spain with a written Declaration of Independence made by Congress on July 5, 1811.  This act began the 12-year war for independence fought between the two countries, culminating in the Battle of Carabobo.  General Simon Bolivar, the leader of the Independence fighters, is an iconic figure of Latin American independence and is associated with the modern day “Bolivarianism” movement in South America.

Modern Day Traditions

This June 24th will be the 192nd celebration of the Battle of Carabobo in Venezuela and will be celebrated as a national holiday consisting of a televised military parade and air show held in the Field of Carabobo.

Generational Quotes

“Every generation wants to be the last. Every generation hates the next trend in music they can’t understand. We hate to give up those reins of our culture. To find our own music playing in elevators. The ballad for our revolution, turned into background music for a television commercial. To find our generation’s clothes and hair suddenly retro.” 
-Chuck PalahniukLullaby

“We may consider each generation as a separate nation, with a right, by the will of the majority, to bind themselves, but none to bind the succeeding generation, more than the inhabitants of another country.”
-Thomas Jefferson

“I hope the World War II generation doesn’t lose that quality that made them so appealing: their modesty, and the way they are always looking forward and seldom back.”
-Tom Brokaw

“The man who views the world at 50
the same as he did at 20 has wasted
30 years of his life.”
-Muhammad Ali

“If future generations are to remember
us more with gratitude than sorrow, we must achieve more than just the
miracles of technology. We must also
leave them a glimpse of the world as
it was created, not just as it looked
when we got through with it.”
-Lyndon B. Johnson

“The year I was born, 1956, was the
peak year for babies being born, and
there are more people essentially our
age than anybody else. We could
crush these new generations if 
we decided too.”
-Tom Hanks

Cultural Quick Tip: Pay Attention to Non-Verbal Communication

When new parents first bring home their baby, they are faced with many new communication challenges as they try to understand and meet the needs of their newborn. Without verbal communication parents must rely upon observable types of communication in the form of facial expressions, cries and body movements. Parents have a vested interest in learning to decode their child’s nonverbal communication, as it will help them to raise a healthy and happy baby. While your colleagues in the workplace communicate both verbally and non-verbally, understanding how to interpret their nonverbal communication can be a great advantage. Keep in mind that the meaning behind body language and facial expressions may vary from culture to culture, so it is always good to check for understanding.

Action Step:
Research communication etiquette from other cultures to aid your understanding when communicating with people from outside your country or culture.

Holiday Spotlight: Ridvan

Ridvan is a 12-day festival of the Baha’i Faith that begins at sunset on April 21th.  The word Ridvan translates into the word paradise and is the most holy Baha’i festival. The festival is sometimes referred to as the “Most Great Festival” and is a celebration of the start of the prophet hood of Baha’u’llah.

Ridvan Garden Baghdad

Ridvan Garden Baghdad

Ridvan marks Baha’u’llah’s time in the garden of Ridvan in 1863 and his announcement to his companions in the garden that he was a messenger of God and the prophet promised by the Bab. The 1st, 9th and 12th days are especially holy days. They commemorate the arrival of Baha’u’llah at the Ridván Garden, the arrival of his family and his eventual departure from the garden.  These are the days that work and school is usually suspended for all Baha’i people.

Gardens are a requirement for Baha’i Houses of Worship. There are currently seven continental Baha’i Houses of Worship in the world. Each has a unique style but they all have four basic requirements: they are circular shape, have nine sides, a dome, and are surrounded by nine gardens with walkways.

The Baha’i faith is a monotheistic religion founded in the 1800s in the geographic region once known as Persia by Baha’u’llah.

Ridvan is one of the holidays included in our top 15 Religious Holidays Guide.  Learn more about this important scheduling and reference tool:

Diversity Fatigue Blog Series: Seven Causes of Diversity Fatigue

Diversity Fatigue

Over the last decade more and more companies have launched diversity initiatives and incorporated key concepts of diversity management into their organizations.  These efforts were initiated with a great deal of enthusiasm and quality work was accomplished. What organizations are discovering now after years, or in some cases, decades into the work, is that there is diversity fatigue in the workplace. Their programs are not as well attended, senior leaders are not as engaged and employees are not as involved.

This blog post series explores key causes for diversity fatigue and it outlines steps that organizations can undertake to address the fatigue and to jump start their diversity programs with renewed energy and focus.

What is Diversity Fatigue?

Diversity fatigue is best described as a sentiment of disinterest and even dislike of diversity activities that are taking place at an organization.  Diversity fatigue should not be confused with the general resistance to change that many people have.  Diversity fatigue occurs after the launch of a diversity initiative at a company followed by months or years of diversity programming.  Only after a concerted diversity effort has been made can there be fatigue, otherwise the challenge that your organization is dealing with may be something else altogether.

When diversity is positioned as an “add-on” for an organization, there will always be fatigue.  Something that is not central to my work is an added burden and nuisance.  Something that is central to my work must be cared about otherwise I will fall short with my performance and my goals.

7 Causes for Diversity Fatigue

While there are many reasons for diversity fatigue, here are 7 that we feel encompass many of the issues:

1. Lack of Senior Executive Endorsement and Involvement

2. Lack of a Diversity Plan

3. Diversity Activities Are Not Connected to the Business Case

4. Activities are Sporadic

5. Flavor of the Day

6. Lack of Communication

7. Lack of Manager and Executive Accountability


Diversity fatigue occurs when there is confusion and disinterest in the diversity activities that are taking place at an organization. In the next installment of this blog series we will discuss the 3 steps that your company can take to effectively address and curb diversity fatigue.

For more information on diversity fatigue and effective diversity initiatives visit our website:

Workplace Diversity Training: Business Case for Diversity

The Business Case for Diversity

While the term business case for diversity may sound more like a business tool that should be used by big corporations, in reality every institution needs a business case, or benefit case, for diversity.  The business case for diversity is an invaluable opportunity to illustrate the relationship that diversity has to the long term success of the organization.  We have found that this is an essential step to the process of taking diversity out of the category of a “feel good” program and into the category of “essential for business success.”

The Business Case for Diversity By Industry

How might a business case for diversity differ by industry?  Here are a few ideas to consider:

1.    Healthcare

The diversity in the patient population is driving a great need in healthcare for diversity, or as it is more commonly called in healthcare, cultural competency. The Joint Commission, the CLAS standards and other regulatory industries are all focusing on the topic and linking this to a hospital’s business case for diversity provides an important strategic connection.

2.    Higher Education

Generational diversity is a key component in institutions of higher learning due to the student population. As schools are attracting students from around the world and from a variety of backgrounds, the business case could also include cultural and religious knowledge for staff and faculty.

3.    Non-profits

For non-profit organizations, the business case for diversity if often linked to their mission. If they are serving a diverse client base than there can be a need to have employees reflect the populations being served, so the business case for diversity might be about creating an awareness and understanding of the diverse backgrounds in their target communities.

4.    Corporations

For companies, the business case for diversity is impacted by the changing demographics that are impacting customers and employees. Companies want to tap into a diversity of background to drive innovation and also to use diversity as a way to increase employee engagement. 

Build Your Own Business Case for Diversity

Every organization that decides to undertake diversity training will have a unique business case for doing so. The uniqueness occurs because the heart of a business case for diversity highlights the operational, financial and competitive impact that diversity is having and will have on the organization. And these impacts will differ depending upon the business model for an organization. There may be common themes from one organization to the next, such as having employees that reflect the changing demographics of their customer base, the organization’s culture, long term strategies and employee base will all impact what the business case is for that organization.  A generic business case for diversity training will help to raise awareness, but a specific business case for diversity will help to fully engage senior leadership and employees in understanding how diversity training will help to achieve both organizational and individual goals.

Some questions to consider as you build your own business case for diversity:

  1. What are your key strategic goals and how could diversity help you to achieve those goals?
  2. How is diversity impacting key operations at your organization? For example, customer service interactions? What is the opportunity there?
  3. What changes in demographics are impacting your client/customer base? How does this impact the work that you are doing overall and more specifically work you are doing around diversity?
  4. How are your competitors responding to diversity or using diversity to distinguish themselves competitively?

Pairing diversity training with a strong business case that is linked specifically to your needs strengthens the diversity training and also helps to ensure that those taking the training understand why it is important to their work and to the organization’s goals.

Keep your eyes out for the next installment of the Workplace Diversity Training blog series that will be published within the next couple of weeks.  For more information on Diversity Training visit the Culture Coach International website:

Read the other installments of this series:

Why your company needs a definition of diversity

Top ten tips for making diversity training great