I find it interesting to compare and contrast how people in different parts of the world conduct internal communication. I’ve been told that it may be culturally offensive to do so, but I’ve decided the risk is worth the learning. I think that’s a US hang up anyway.

Here are some of the interesting ahas I experienced last week while interacting with communicators in Dubai.

  • They are struggling to get employees to pay attention and read.
  • They are shooting for more engagement.
  • They tend to focus on messages and tactics before listening and analyzing.
  • They want to be viewed as strategic contributors.

Say, that rings a bell. That’s right. They are pretty much like all the communicators out there. Expats and Arabs and UAE nationals alike. Experiencing what the rest of us are – worried about the same things.

Don’t get me wrong. There are some nuances. They are more open to incorporating nationality and ethnic culture into their communication planning than those in the US. They operate at a slower pace than the west. They are up against it with powerful government, traditions and managers (note I did not say “leaders”) who block changes in the status quo. And many do not have the benefit of a communication degree – perhaps the West focuses on this too much.

Change is hard. But that is true for us all. As Seth Goden says, it just takes a leader willing to risk, to step out and lead.

One more thing – communicators in the UAE are not backward as some would like to believe. They are learning and evolving at a time that frankly I envy. How great would it be to bring the concepts of an unfamiliar discipline (internal communication) to a fairly new country at a time when technology and a global view changes everything we do?

More on this later.