Case study – diverse patterns of communication under duress

Mohammed is a 2nd generation American whose family comes from Egypt. He heads the Middle East and Asia Sales for a Dutch-French conglomerate.

Mohammed has convened a meeting of his staff in Cyprus and has just conveyed bad news…..there is an 30% drop in revenue in 2015, and this will have massive impact on the region. Using a lot of emotion by slightly raising his voice, Mohammed asked all his managers to provide input to “make this problem go away”.

Hans, a German who heads sales in Indonesia, gave a very, very detailed blow by blow description of what was causing delay in revenue, product by product and client by client.   Mohammed, never known for his patience, told Hans to “focus on the woods and not the trees.”

Anat, an Israeli, (Israel, Cyprus, Turkey Region) argued that the way corporate recognizes revenue “makes no sense”. “Anat”, Mohammed  said, “I am also a Middle Easterner, but sometimes bargaining and positioning need to end”.

Watanabe, a Japanese managing Japan and Korea, sat and was silent. Mohammed told Watanabe that “silence is unacceptable”. Watanabe looked at him in shock. “I am thinking, Mohammed-san”. Do you want me to act with haste on such a serious issue”?

John  the American finance guru of the group suggested that no one go home before there is a detailed plan.

Mohammed pondered how to get all his team on the same page. Anat said “let’s start doing something”; Wantanabe was astonished.

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