What is Global OD-Lesson Five: When is communication not at all beneficial

This will be a controversial posting.

Improving communication is a cornerstone of Western OD. Interventions target improving communications; OD believes that good communication can compensate for structural flaws, and process without good communication can’t make things happen.

OD also thrives for more authentic communication.

All the above is true in certain contexts.

However in many cultures, talking and communicating makes problems get worse.

Amaya from Osaka taught me that once she gets angry at a colleague and expresses the anger, the relationship will break down.

Miyazaki from Tokyo  taught me what he says when he is silent.

Kalpana from Bangalore taught me that inferring things with a superior is better than saying them. I learnt that communicating “openly” means people will not hear you.

Daw from Bangkok taught me what klenjai is: klenjaiing is “always make the other person feel comfortable, at all costs”, klenjai is the ultimate way of communicating, avoiding unpleasantness AT ALL COST.

What does this mean when Moshe, and Pierre and Hans and Daw and Kalpana and Amaya and Miyazaki work together?


Does it mean that OD shoves western values down everyone’s throat?

What it should mean is that an OD consultant working in a global environment needs to understand when it is preferable to mediate and serve as a go between, instead of forcing people to talk. It means that group dynamics and having people “talk things out” is severely culturally biased and certainly not the default choice in a global environment,

And it means that the OD consultant must be able to get things to work, by augmenting or avoiding communication, without our present western biases.

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