Session Three:  Cultural Differences as a Disruptive Change: Navigating Intercultural Conflict


Do you ever lose your cool, your patience—or want to – because of someone else’s behaviors? Are you aware of how your culture affects your responses to others—and to conflicts that may arise?


Indeed, the more diverse groups become, the more opportunities there are to mis-understand each other’s cultural values and behaviors. These mis-understandings can lead to conflict and, if people also have different conflict styles, the clashes can be further exacerbated.


What might appear to be quiet sabotage, stonewalling, reluctance to work together, or passive aggressiveness, is often a form of cultural conflict. When you encounter any of these behaviors, how do you respond? Do you see them as an irritation or as cultural conflicts that you can effectively manage? Each of us has the opportunity to more effectively recognize and manage these conflicts before they result in loss of productivity, loss of engagement, or decreased morale, for either ourselves or those around us.


This session will identify ethnic, national, and gender-based conflict style norms, and help participants identify their individual conflict style preferences. We will examine where conflict style preferences are learned and reinforced and how those differences can affect both personal and workplace relationships. And, finally, we will explore tools for minimizing conflicts and/or resolving them when they do occur. 


Learning Objectives:

By the end of this session, participants will be able to:


  • Understand how their feelings about conflict and their responses to it have been shaped by their background and history.

  • Recognize the influences of ethnic, national and gender communication and conflict style norms.

  • Identify their own personal conflict and communication style preferences.

  • Recognize how their preferred conflict and communication style can affect both personal and work relationships.

  • Apply tools to more effectively avoid or resolve conflicts when they occur.


Date: Tuesday, May 24, 2016


Time:  8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. (continental breakfast served at 7:45 am)


Location:  Nordstrom Flagship Store, Seattle

                  1617 6th Avenue

                  5th Floor, J.W. Nordstrom Meeting Room



                                Cindy Ogasawara is a project coordinator on the Diversity & Inclusion team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  She is                                     responsible for co-creating the foundation’s strategy on issues of diversity, equity and inclusion; for coordination and                                               oversight of the organization’s five Employee Resource Groups; and execution and rollout of D&I-related events and                                                 initiatives.


                               Cindy joined the foundation in 2005 as a program assistant in the Global Health division and has held a variety of roles on                                        several operations and program teams since then.  She initially worked in support roles, then as a coordinator on a diverse set of initiatives and projects, from moving to the new Seattle campus to developing a division-wide onboarding program to managing special projects for the foundation’s Visitor Center.  Three years ago she began working on Diversity & Inclusion half-time, and now is a dedicated full-time resource to that team.


Prior to discovering her passion for D&I, Cindy also had a wide variety of experiences in other sectors, including a two-year stint in the Peace Corps Volunteer in Mongolia (2000 – 2002), acting as a legal assistant on a multi-million-dollar lawsuit in federal district court in Idaho, and working for three austral summer seasons at McMurdo Station, Antarctica as a vehicle operator and then as senior administrative coordinator.  Cindy earned her B.A. in English / Professional Writing at Baylor University and completed a certificate in Memoir Writing at the University of Washington Extension.


                              Donna M. Stringer, Ph.D. is a Cross-Cultural Consultant.   She was founder and President for 27 years of a successful                                               organization development company specializing in cross-cultural issues, located in Seattle, WA.  A social psychologist with                                       over 40 years’ experience as a manager, teacher, researcher, and writer, Donna specializes in cross-cultural instructional                                         design, cross-cultural communication and value systems, team building, and culture change strategies for organizations in the                               U.S., Asia, Latin America, and Europe.


                              She has co-authored three books: 52 Activities for Exploring Values Differences, 52 Activities for Improving Cross-Cultural Communication, and 52 Activities for Successful International Transitions. She has written articles on preparing the next generation of diversity trainers for the 2007 Pfeiffer Annual Training Series and on preparing global leaders for the 2012 Pfeiffer Annual Training Series.  Her most recent publications include a chapter on Diversity and Inclusion for the Multicultural America Encyclopedia and chapters on Generational Diversity and Global Diversity Management for the Encyclopedia of Intercultural Competence both published by Sage.  Donna currently lives and works as a solo practitioner in Seattle, WA.


Presented by:  The Institute for Sustainable Diversity and Inclusion (ISDI)


ISDI is a non-profit organization established for the purpose of educating, supporting and collaborating with key stakeholders on ways to leverage differences and practice inclusion to enhance individual and organizational success.  


ISDI was founded in 2015 and has taken over the management of the Northwest Diversity Learning Series for 2016, formerly managed by Archbright. Barbara Deane, the original NW Series co-founder, and Effenus Henderson, retired Chief Diversity Officer, Weyerhaeuser are the co-founders and directors of the Institute.


ISDI will concentrate its initial efforts on ensuring the continued success of the NW Diversity Learning Series in 2016 as well as the development of a multi-year framework for educating, convening and supporting diversity and inclusion initiatives in the Pacific Northwest.   



Upcoming Sessions in 2016:


Session 4:  Institutional Racism: Disrupting Silence & Collusion Monday, June 27 


Session 5:  The demographic explosion:  Building relationships amidst shifting power and preferences. Tuesday, September 20


Session 6:  Shakeup of traditional networks:  Realizing the innovative power of employee groups, business groups and councils.  Thursday, November 3