Today in a workshop we played our cultural game ‘the way we do things here’ with a mixed group of workers in youth care, pedagogic teachers and policy makers. By playing that game, participants experienced how cultural differences work out in cooperation and communication. That experience is the basis for the insights and tools we work on afterwards. Participants rarely forget what happened, even after years, and usually like the lessons learned.
During the many years that we have used this game it is worth a study how groups react to cultural confusion. The group today was not just a group experienced in social issues, they were also located in the very south of the Netherlands which – if I may say so, hoping not to upset anybody in the north – means often a nice atmosphere full of fun. And fun they had indeed: the confrontation with cultural differences meant laughing laughing and laughing to them. In other groups it happened to us that we had to bring back damaged game materials because the participants got angry and started to fight about it. No such thing today! Most problems were solved in an efficient way.
These participants were not perfect, f.ex. there was rather a lack of strategy among them. They understood what diversity competence could mean for their operational work, for the relations the workers have with clients from all different cultures and the quality of services offered. But the organisational level was more remote for them although they need the support of their management!
Nevertheless in a world full of conflicts about cultural differences, it is great to have moments where people enjoy dealing with them; there is a time to laugh and a time to cry, and I definitely prefer laughing…