Stop and eat the roses

Embarking on an internship in a foreign country brings with it a multitude of cultural experiences, including variations in communication preferences and styles. As an American college student interning at PatientMpower, a data analytics startup in Dublin, I have had the opportunity to observe and adapt to the communication differences in my host country. There have been many unique challenges and differences I have encountered in my hybrid work environment.

In navigating the communication landscape of my host country, I have observed some subtle differences and preferences. Ireland, like the United States, falls somewhere in the middle of the low-context to high-context communication scale. Both cultures tend to value directness, clarity, and explicit verbal communication.

However, I have noticed slight variations in the use of language and expressions. For example, the Irish dialect uses terms such as “water closets” for bathrooms and “lifts” for elevators. While these linguistic differences may cause slight amusement or confusion, they ultimately do not impede effective communication.

In my interactions with colleagues, I have found that being proactive in seeking clarification and repetition has been instrumental in overcoming potential miscommunication. For instance, when my coworker introduced me to new ways of using Tableau dashboards, I asked that they repeat and clarify the information as it was a lot to absorb at once. This practice of open communication and active listening has fostered understanding and enhanced collaboration in the workplace.

While the overall communication differences have been relatively minor, there have been instances where I encountered miscommunication and had to overcome them. One such scenario involved a colloquial expression that led to a moment of confusion. When I asked to close out my tab at a local establishment, the server seemed puzzled and later approached me to inquire about its exact meaning. This highlighted the need to be mindful of cultural and linguistic nuances, even in seemingly familiar situations. However, this was a delightful scenario, as both I and the server walked away with a new piece for the other’s cultural puzzle.

To mitigate the potential for miscommunication, I have embraced a proactive approach by seeking clarification whenever needed. I have fostered an open and supportive environment where colleagues feel comfortable asking questions or seeking further explanations. This practice has not only helped to bridge any potential gaps but has also fostered stronger relationships within the team.

In addition to cultural communication variations, the hybrid work environment has presented its own set of challenges. Balancing communication between in-person and remote colleagues requires adaptability and conscious effort. It is essential to ensure that remote team members are included in discussions, decisions, and updates, fostering a sense of belonging and cohesion.

Technological tools such as video conferencing, instant messaging, and project management platforms have played a vital role in bridging the gap and facilitating effective communication in this hybrid setting. However, it is crucial to recognize the potential for communication breakdowns due to technological glitches or differences in time zones. It was a long adjustment period to adapt to the multitude of new softwares.

To address these challenges, clear and consistent communication channels have been established, along with regular check-ins to ensure that everyone is aligned and informed. Emphasising empathy, patience, and understanding in this hybrid work environment has been key to building strong connections and maintaining effective collaboration.

My internship experience at PatientMpower in Dublin has exposed me to the nuances of communication preferences and differences in a low-context to high-context cultural context. While the overall communication landscape between Ireland and the United States is relatively similar, navigating subtle variations and embracing proactive communication has been crucial in minimizing miscommunication and fostering a harmonious work environment. The hybrid work model has presented its own set of challenges, necessitating the use of technology and fostering inclusive communication practices. By valuing cultural nuances and maintaining open channels of communication, I have become better equipped to navigate the intricacies of global collaboration.


This week’s image is of a visual delicacy, at least for us Americans. On one walk home, I found a patch of flowers that were covered in snails. While snails are decently common (especially on rainy days) if you know where to look, I had not yet seen snails on flowers. Apparently, completely unbeknownst to me, snails gain sustenance from flowering plants. I presume they are after the pollen inside, which would make them pollinators. I would guess however that they might be too slow to effectively pollinate anything. Even small subtle differences such as this make exploring the world infinitely more entertaining and thought provoking.

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