Women in the Workplace: Negotiating Influence as a Leader

Success in an organizational context is partly achieved by being able to read the room and know the rules of engagement for that context. Some people may call it being politically savvy. You can also think of it as marketing or presentation of self (Goffman, 1959) in how you appear to others. It is important to be able to communicate in ways that are considered to be contributing value to the organization and demonstrating that you are both an asset and someone who can be depended on to get the job done.

However, as important as it is for you to be able to read the room, it is equally critical to understand that people in the room are reading you as well. Gender, race, ethnicity, and other factors play a role in influencing how people are perceived, and in many cases these traits cause women and minorities to need to prove their competence more often than other groups in an organizational context (McKinsey, 2019). Some of these situational assessments are not as obvious as others and more subtle means of discrimination can be referred to as microaggressions that accumulate over time influencing how candidates are determined to be ready for advancement (Sue et al., 2019). Microaggressions can be thought of as daily indignities that are intentional or unintentional, and that can have negative effects on a person’s self-esteem and health.

The form of how these subtle microaggressions may play out in the workplace can be categorized as gender microassaults, gender microinsults, or gender microinvalidations (Capodilupo et al., 2010). Gender microassaults can be thought of as the old-fashioned way you picture sexism, by the making of overt rude comments and name-calling. Gender microinsults are when women are consistently overlooked, as when women and men attend and participate in meetings, but only the men’s contributions are positively acknowledged. Gender microinvalidations are when male colleagues may bond on shared activities and do not invite women to attend assuming they will not be interested (Capodilupo et al., 2010). These can play a role in how women are perceived as leaders and for being eligible candidates considered for advancement.


In Aliki Nicolaides, Saskia Eschenbacher, Petra T. Buergelt, Yabome Gilpin-Jackson, Marguerite Welch, Mitsunori Misawa Eds., The Palgrave Handbook of Learning for Transformation, 2022, Palgrave Macmillan

In Search of a Shared Narrative of Leadership

Organizations need leaders, and effective leadership styles need to fit the demands of the organization. The increase in diversity within organizations makes this more challenging. Narratives differ about what makes a good leader, and there are debates on whether leaders are born or made (Marques, 2010; Northouse, 2016). There is some consensus that more than one style of leadership is needed over time.

This chapter will focus on the challenges diverse organizations pose to leaders as they search for ways to be effective across diversity. Mainly, the challenge in developing a shared narrative of good leadership. Differences in norms, values, customs and practices shape how leadership is seen from various cultural lenses. Diversity will be looked at from the rise of multinational enterprises (MNEs); cultural dimensions and how they show up in the workplace and shape organi- zational culture; leadership, cross-cultural leadership and the role of narratives on people and leaders; creation of conflict in the workplace that arises from cultural clashes; and suggestions for creating a shared narrative on leadership.


In Gama Perruci, Ed, The Study and Practice of Global Leadership, 2022, Emerald Publishing

Transformative Learning and Its Relevance to Coaching

Co-authored with Ria Yoshida

This chapter focuses on the transformational potential, possible through a coaching engage- ment. The coaching-client relationship is explored and a real-life coaching scenario is used as the foundation from which to extra- polate key points. There are various concepts, practices and tools introduced and explanati- ons for their purpose and benefits, in addition to, how they were used are described. Sugges- tions for how to use these tools and plan for a future interaction are provided.


Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016, S. Greif et al. (Hrsg.), Handbuch Schlüsselkonzepte im Coaching, Springer Reference Psychologie, DOI 10.1007/978-3-662-45119-9_74-1

Co-Creation of Meaning

Communication is both action and process. The purpose of communication is to exchange information with others. In this exchange, individuals seek coherence in their understanding so that they can know what this interaction means to them, how they should act, and how to coordinate meaning making with others. All of this is heavily influenced by the context within which this communication takes place. The perspectives used to make meaning of communication are created from one’s culture and include past experiences, family, education, and other significant as well as minor influences. One of the challenges of effective intercultural communication is that the frames used to interpret communication and make meaning differ because of how worldviews are developed.

This entry explores how worldview frames are formed, how meaning is made in relationships, and how shared meaning can be co-created. Co-creating shared meaning is important for effective intercultural communication for people to understand one another, coexist, and work together collaboratively. 


Janet M. Bennett, Ed., The SAGE Encyclopedia of Intercultural Competence, 2015, Sage Publications

Disciplinary Approaches to Culture: An Overview

Co-authored with Ria Yoshida

Culture plays an essential role in shaping how people see the world. It creates the lenses that form one’s perspective, which influences how meaning is made from observations, perceptions, interpretations, and evaluations. Intercultural competence, also known as cross-cultural competence, is the ability to effectively comprehend, respond to, and communicate with people from diverse cultural backgrounds in a variety of contexts. To be interculturally competent requires the necessary skills and the capacity to juggle multiple cultural vantage points simultaneously.

In this entry, several definitions are showcased from a variety of disciplines. Intercultural competencies are framed through the perspectives of cultural anthropology, political science, sociology, psychology, and communication. The entry discusses cultural paradigms, characteristics, and competencies as well as the role and value of measuring intercultural competency.


Janet M. Bennett, Ed., The SAGE Encyclopedia of Intercultural Competence, 2015, Sage Publications

International Negotiation

Co-authroed with Ria Yoshida

There are a variety of situations or contexts in which it is necessary to negotiate with people from different international cultures. When such negotiation occurs, there are two major complex systems coming together in a particular set of actions: (1) culture and (2) negotiation. Culture can be thought of as a socially constructed set of beliefs, values, rituals, experiences, systems, institutions, and so on, that a group of people created and by which they live. Negotiation can be thought of as a joint decision-making process in which two or more parties in relationships may bargain or resolve a problem and come to an agreed course of action.

Negotiations across cultural boundaries are increasing in frequency as there are more opportunities for diplomacy, business, peace building, development, and education, each of which has cultural influences that require intercultural competence to be effective. 

This entry explores different types of international negotiation, cultural orientations of framing and purpose in negotiation, and the flow of preparing for and conducting international negotiation, as well as other related considerations.


Janet M. Bennett, Ed., The SAGE Encyclopedia of Intercultural Competence, 2015, Sage Publications

Knowledge, Skills, and Attitudes in Intercultural Communication

Co-authored with Ria Yoshida

Intercultural conflict occurs when there are real or perceived incompatibilities of values, norms, beliefs, goals, orientations, styles, processes, and other factors that are rooted and embedded in different cultural systems. These cultural systems can be defined by many characteristics, such as those attributed to national, ethnic, religious, gender, age, professional, and other groups. Therefore, individuals are simultaneously part of more than one cultural system, and the various identities intersect.

This entry explores intercultural conflicts and the competencies needed to address them. There are countless situations in which intercultural communication is constructive and effective, enhances the quality of relationships, and builds strong communities and social worlds. When communication goes astray, misunderstandings can occur. When identities are threatened and there are feelings of losing face and being disrespected, intercultural conflict may happen. The focus of this entry is to identify ways in which this type of communication can be managed well and how failure to do so may lead to destructive outcomes. Following is an overview of reasons for intercultural conflicts, conflict characteristics, and ways in which conflict can be addressed, constructively managed, and resolved. This especially pertains to the knowledge, skills, and attitudes required to manage conflict successfully. 


Janet M. Bennett, Ed., The SAGE Encyclopedia of Intercultural Competence, 2015, Sage Publications

Transforming Communication for Peace

Communication is the most important means of interaction between people. It is a critical component of our relationships with others, and the quality of these relation- ships creates our social worlds. In destructive conflict situations, the quality of our communication is poor, it destroys our relationships and it escalates and spreads conflict perpetuating this destructive cycle. In order to change these relationships and our social worlds from conflict to peace, we need to transform the nature of the communication we have with others.

This chapter will discuss transforming communication to create and sustain peaceful social worlds through better quality relationships. We will look at the com- munication we use, specifically the content and process of the communication itself, rather than through communication as a means to an end. The focus will be on a dia- logic approach to communication, which shifts the direction from unilateral to bilateral, and will be addressed at a variety of levels including interpersonal, intergroup, societal and global. We will look at factors affecting communication, our roles and the dynamics we create, the types of messages being communicated and the influence of context and culture on our communication. Conflict impacts those factors and these problems will be identified with suggestions for shifting the tone of the communica- tion from conflict to peace. Finally, the chapter will conclude with ideas for sustaining the transformed communication necessary in an environment of peace.


P.T. Coleman and M. Deutsch (eds.), Psychological Components of Sustainable Peace, 105 Peace Psychology Book Series, DOI 10.1007/978-1-4614-3555-6_5, © Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Transforming Intercultural Conflict Through the Context of Relationship

The Dancing Monkeys

A PRINCE had some Monkeys trained to dance. Being naturally great mimics of men’s actions, they showed themselves most apt pupils, and when arrayed in their rich clothes and masks, they danced as well as any of the courtiers. The spectacle was often repeated with great applause, till on one occasion a court- ier, bent on mischief, took from his pocket a handful of nuts and threw them upon the stage. The Monkeys at the sight of the nuts forgot their dancing and became (as indeed they were) Monkeys instead of actors. Pulling off their masks and tearing their robes, they fought with one another for the nuts. The dancing spectacle thus came to an end amidst the laughter and ridicule of the audience.

—Not everything you see is what it appears to be.— 

Communication is a complex phenomenon. It is an action and transaction; it is relational, develops relationships, and is within relationships; it is contextual and culturally influenced; it is dynamic; and it creates the social worlds within which we live. There are sets of assumptions we hold when we communicate and one is that the person with whom we are communicating will understand us in the way we want to be understood. When we pause to consider what happens in the space between people communicating and how many twists and turns our communica- tion can take, it is amazing we can communi- cate effectively at all.

It is in these twists and turns that conflict can emerge as our perceptions are interpreted through the filters of our worldviews and frames of reference created and influenced by our cultural orientations, to make meaning. As humans, we are sense-making individuals, and when our interactions with others do not make sense according to our meaning-making paradigms, we can become confused (Pearce, 2007). This internal dissonance affects our relationships and influences, or most likely hampers future communication, and conflict is perpetuated. 

In this chapter, we explore some characteris- tics of communication, especially intercultural and the relationship between communication and conflict. If communication can create, perpetuate, and escalate conflict, then it can also be used as a way to transform conflict into something positive and even nurturing. Three critical concepts that will be explored throughout the chapter are ways in which to develop deeper understanding of self, other, and context and ways in which to construc- tively apply this information (Fisher-Yoshida, 2000). One way in which communication can become more effective is by using a frame that we name, relationship, and place it as the highest order of context within which we communicate. This framing suggests a dynamic that we act into, so that our focus and perspective shifts from being only about “me” on the individual level to being about “us” on the relationship level. This relational focus could lead to renaming the person or group we call “opponent,” to “partner,” which calls forth different relational behaviors and norms of communication. The relationship lens becomes stronger, and all under- standing and meaning are made through this filter. Suggestions as to how to foster this more effective intercultural communication for better quality relationships and social worlds will be offered. Concepts and practical applications of the five paradoxes to understanding intercultural communication and conflict will be offered. Furthermore, coordinated management of meaning (CMM) and transformative learning through reflective and reflexive processes will be explored.


John G. Oetzel and Stella Ting-Toomey, Eds., The Sage Handbook of Conflict Communication: Integrating Theory, Research, and Practice, 2nd Edition, 2012