This workshop was developed in January 2004 by Portland staff members Jim Laden, Jackie Ostrowski, and Kelsey Kavanagh and has been used in multiple staff and volunteer trainings. It has also been presented at regional and national NAFSA conferences in 2005 and 2006.
You can order the Intercultural Conflict Survey and the Facilitators Guide by contacting the Mitch Hammer Consulting at 1-800-960-7708.
Time: 1 ½ to 2 hours
- Group Discussion
- Intercultural Conflict Style Facilitators Guide
- Intercultural Conflict Style Inventories
- Intercultural Conflict Style Inventory Interpretation Guides
- Handouts of the Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity
- Flipcharts with Stages of Intercultural Sensitivity
- Colored stickers – three distinct colors
- Cultural Construction Role Playing Cards (color-coded)
- Cultural Construction Activity Instructions
- Bags of art materials (paper, pipe cleaners, foil, tape, yarn, sticks, etc.)
- Masking Tape
- Blank Flipcharts
Behavioral Learning Objectives
By the end of this session participants will be able to:
- Explain the six stages in the Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity
- Explain their own cultural conflict style and the three other types of cultural
conflict styles used in the Intercultural Conflict Survey
- Identify at least one action they can each make to work more effectively with
people from different cultures when conflict emerges
Activity 1: Preparation for Workshop
Purpose of Activity: Ensure all participants have the survey and that the facilitator is
prepared to interpret the surveys.
Time: Prior to Session (1 day before the session or more)
- Step 1: Read the Facilitator’s Guide for the Intercultural Conflict Survey to ensure you are
able to score and interpret the instrument.
- Step 2: Read the article by Milton Bennett to ensure you understand the Developmental
Model of Intercultural Sensitivity
- Step 3: Send or pass out Intercultural Conflict Style Inventories. Ask people to complete
the inventory prior to the session by reading the instructions and responding to the 18
questions. Explain that we will score and interpret the results during the workshop.
Activity 2: Introductions and Overview
Purpose of Activity: Prepare participants for what to expect during the workshop
Time: 5-10 minutes
- Step 1: Introduce facilitators. Depending on the time available and the nature of the group,
ask participants to introduce themselves. Keep this brief.
- Step 2: Explain the purpose and objectives of the workshop. The workshop provides
information that increases our understanding of ourselves and others as cultural beings,
and this information can be applied directly to your work and roles within AFS. It can
also facilitate your personal growth and awareness and interpersonal effectiveness.
Emphasize that we have designed the workshop to be as interactive as possible, so
encourage participants to participate and have fun.
Activity 3: Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity
Purpose of Activity: Introduce DMIS and encourage participant self-evaluation
Time: 15-20 minutes
- Step 1: Post six flipcharts in a row that provide major details of the six stages of the
Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity (Denial of Difference, Defense Against
Difference, Minimization of Difference, Acceptance of Difference, Adaptation to
Difference, Integration of Difference). Each flipchart should have a few inches of blank
space left at the bottom
- Step 2: Handout overview of the Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity
- Step 3: Provide oral overview of the model, including opportunities for Q&A, so that
workshop participants clearly understand the distinct stages and the movement of
individuals through the stages.
- Step 4: Pass out three colored stickers to each participant – one of each color to each
workshop participant. Ask them to place one sticker (the same color for everyone) on the
flipchart that represents the stage where they believe they personally exist most of the
time. Then ask them to place their second sticker (the same color for everyone) on the
flipchart that represents the stage where they believe most AFS students are at the
beginning of the program year. Then ask them to place their third sticker (the same color
for everyone) on the flipchart that represents the stage where they believe most AFS host
families are at the beginning of the year. The end product is a visual representation of
how the participants perceive themselves, their students, and host families in relation to
the DMIS stages.
- Step 5: Review the visual product on the flipcharts. Most likely, the workshop
participants will see themselves as being at a more advanced stage of development than
the students and host families. Ask them what implications the results may have for their
work with students and host families and write their ideas on blank flipcharts.
- Step 6: Set aside the discussion of the DMIS, noting that the group will come back to the
chart they created towards the end of the workshop.
Activity 4: A Cultural Construction
Purpose of Activity: Have participants experience an intercultural interaction designed to
encourage conflict and elicit the feelings that emerge from conflict
Time: 40-45 minutes
- Step 1: Explain that the group is now going to participate in a fun and creative activity.
Divide workshop participants into four equal size groups and have each group go to a
different corner of the room. Explain that everyone in the room will be playing one of
four “cultural roles” during the activity. They will be receiving cards that instruct them
how they need to think, communicate, and act during the activity.
- Step 2: Pass out the role playing cards so that the people in each of the four groups all
have the same card. Instruct workshop participants to read their cards. Allow 5 minutes
for the participants to discuss among themselves how they would play the role they have
been assigned. The facilitators should circulate between the groups to answer questions,
provide further information about the style, and possibly demonstrate the style. Once
each group understands their assigned style, ask the participants to “mentally settle into”
the role described on the card so that they are ready for the activity.
- Step 3: Divide the participants into new small groups that are seated at tables. Each group
should have a total of 6-8 people, with 1-2 people per group from each of the four
cultural styles. The goal is to have a mix of the four cultural styles in each of the new
- Step 4: Pass out one bag of art materials and one set of activity instructions to each group.
Ask one person to read the instructions to the rest of his or her group. Allow 15-20
minutes for the groups to complete the activity. Circulate, observe the groups at work,
and remind the participants to have fun acting out their cultural roles.
- Step 5: Once the activity is finished, process the activity and the roles that people played.
First ask for general feedback on the activity and record statements either on a flipchart
or notepad for later reference (there will likely be many comments about frustrations
dealing with all of the “different types of people” that will be useful in the next part of the
workshop). Then ask for and record feedback from people about each of the four cultural
styles, starting with comments from the people in the role and continuing with the people
who had to interact with the role (there will again be many comments about how hard it
was to play or interact with most of these roles because they go against people’s own
ways of thinking, communicating, and acting). Allow the commentary to become honest,
judgmental, and even a bit raucous as this will help emphasize key learning points later.
Encourage participants not to self-censor, but to be open with their honest reactions.
Record on flipcharts the words that people use in describing the roles and their feelings.
- Step 6: Explain that the roles they just played were representative of the different conflict
styles discussed in the Intercultural Conflict Style Inventory, which they have already
Activity 5: Intercultural Conflict Styles
Purpose of Activity: Ensure participants understand the variation in conflict styles and their
own culturally-based style during conflict
Time: 20-25 minutes
- Step 1: Provide an overview of the purpose of the Intercultural Conflict Style Inventory.
Conflict is an ever-present possibility in human interactions. Conflict emerges when we
have fundamental disagreements in which we can potentially lose something that we
want or need. Conflict involves an emotional reaction, such as anxiety, stress, fear, or
anger. We therefore need a way to understand better our own ways of dealing with
conflict and the ways other people have of dealing with conflict, which this instrument
- Step 2: Explain that the Inventory is modeled on two main components – what we say
when we are in conflict and how we say it. Draw the diagram used in the inventory with
a vertical axis and a horizontal axis. The vertical axis represents “what we say” with a
continuum of indirect vs. direct communication. The horizontal axis represents “how we
say it” with a continuum of emotional restraint vs. emotional expressiveness.
- Step 3: Explain the resulting four quadrants on the diagram and the intercultural conflict
styles (Discussion, Engagement, Accommodation, and Dynamic) which emerge from
differences in what we say and how we say it. Ask participants to match the roles in the
cultural construction activity with these four conflict styles.
- Step 4: Ask workshop participants to take out the Inventories which they completed prior
to the workshop. Hand out the Interpretation Guides. Walk them through the scoring
process and have them fill out the boxes and graph on pages 3 and 5 of the Interpretive
Guide. The graph will show them how inclined they individually are to use each of the
four conflict styles
- Step 5: Use masking tape to create four large quadrants on the ground, which will
represent a life-size version of the graph. Ask workshop participants to physically
position themselves where they scored on the graph (this is an eye-opening moment
assuming that the participants mostly come from the same cultural background because
most of them will end up in the same quadrant – when doing this with white middle-class
participants from the U.S., they will largely end up in the “Discussion” quadrant).
- Step 6: Once people are in place physically, process the personal aspect of the activity.
What did this make you realize about yourself? What does it make you realize about the
culture that you live in? If your conflict style is “out of sync” with that of the majority
culture where you live, what is that experience like?
- Step 7: Process the cultural aspect of the activity. Which conflict styles predominate in
which cultures? (the answers are in the Interpretive Guide and the Facilitator’s Manual).
What expectations do staff, volunteers, and host families put on hosted students when it
comes to dealing with conflict? What expectations are put on U.S. students overseas?
(these questions tend to be eye-opening too because workshop participants realize that
conflict styles are often strange and difficult for students coming from cultures with
different conflict styles, and we put a great deal of emphasis on resolving conflict within
the AFS system)
Activity 6: Tying It All Together
Purpose of Activity: Make connections between the DMIS, the Intercultural Conflict
Styles, and the participants roles as international educators
Time: 10-15 minutes
- Step 1: How do all of the pieces of the workshop fit together? Refer back to the DMIS
and the comments that people made when processing the roles and their frustrations in
the cultural construction activity. Be provocative and point out that even those of us who
view ourselves as being at a more advanced stage of intercultural sensitivity can have a
hard time looking beyond our own culturally-bound methods of dealing with conflict.
While this is natural and very human, we need to be conscious when working with
students and host families. We can help them understand their differences in
communicating and dealing with conflict. We can also keep our own biases more in
check and try to be flexible in our own approaches to communicating and dealing with
conflict. Doing this role models intercultural sensitivity and may help students and host
families themselves evolve to more advanced stages of intercultural sensitivity.
- Step 2: Allow time for comments and questions.
- Step 3: Conclude the workshop by thanking the participants for their openness and