I took a marketing class in which the professor made teams of about four members. The professor made sure that members in each team came from diverse ethnic or cultural background. One of my teammates named Hammad was from Saudi Arabia, the largest oil producer in the world. Each team was required to create a marketing plan for a product to be introduced in an international market and we chose Saudi Arabia as the market to be targeted. One of the requirements of a marketing plan is to analyze the risks involved in the targeted market including political, legal, and security.
My team decided to hold a brainstorming session to generate ideas about the project. When the topic of security risks came under consideration, one of my teammates, Alan immediately stated ‘Arab terrorism’. The moment Alan said the words, everyone looked at Hammad and we could tell he felt uncomfortable by the comment. Alan didn’t mean to imply that acts of terrorism are exclusive to the Arabs but his choice of words was inappropriate. I knew I had to do something to break the awkward silence and preserve the working relationship among the teammates. Thus, I elaborated on Alan’s remark that few fundamentalist elements in Arab countries may be security threats because they want to jeopardize the strong economic relationship between the West and the Arab world.
If I were Alan, I would keep the cultural backgrounds of my team mates in mind in order to avoid saying something that may imply prejudice or would be culturally insensitive to any of the group members. If I had to express Alan’s idea, I would say that terrorism is a global challenge and there are fundamentalist elements in both the West and the East who would not hesitate to use violent means to achieve their objectives. Thus, terrorism may be one security risk as it would be anywhere else. This way I would have succeeded in expressing my idea without offending anyone because I wouldn’t generalize any particular group. I wouldn’t put Hammad in a defensive mode because my criticism would be of the behavior (Walker) and not any particular ethnic or cultural group.
Walker, G. (n.d.). Dealing with Criticism. Retrieved January 31, 2012, from http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/comm440-540/criticism.htm