How to handle cultural diversity in the training room

Cultural diversity can be a real minefield.

It’s very easy to put your foot in it and say or do the wrong thing, making learners feel vulnerable and uncomfortable.

It’s so easy to think of ourselves as culturally neutral, the normal one in the middle, but our own culture is stamped all over how we deliver training and the way we engage with our learners.

There are many aspects to cultural identity. It could be about communication style, about different assumptions and understandings of appropriate respectful behaviour, about things that can or cannot be said, about approaches to issues like hierarchy, age and gender. People might find your carefully planned activities to be deeply inappropriate, or maybe they find it difficult to challenge others or be open to challenge themselves, making your heated debate segment fall a tad flat.

All of this cultural diversity business puts a host of precarious obstacles in your way. You want them to engage with the course and the other learners, you want them to enjoy the experience, and of course (most importantly) you want them to learn. They won’t do this if they feel threatened, unsafe or insulted because of some avoidable mistake or miscommunication.

Sunita Sehmi is an experienced coach and trainer with years of experience of working in a multicultural environment. In this podcast she takes us through her methods and top tips for handling cultural diversity in the training room.

Sunita has also written an article on this subject for Internations magazine and website (Ten Tips for Leading a Multicultural Team)

Here is a link to the book mentioned in the podcast (“Hostage at the Table” by George Kohlrieser)

 Sunita Sehmi


Sunita Sehmi is a Certified Executive Coach, Consultant, Speaker and Trainer. She is of Indian origin and was born in London before moving to Geneva in 1992. She has a Psychology degree, specializing in Occupational and Developmental Psychology and a Post Graduate certification in the Development and Training of Adults from the UK. She also has a Masters in Human Resources, Coaching and Career Management from HEC University of Geneva … read more about Sunita here.

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