Communication on an international arena

As part of IFLA, all of us are communicating on an international arena. This is not always an easy task, since we all live in different environments which have an impact on our communication. Impact which is so deeply integrated in us so we don’t even notice it.

One issue in our different environments (which might be the easiest one to develop), is to concider the differences between the northern and the southern hemisphere and their different seasons. Then writing a winter message can be kind of peculiar when the hot summer sun is shining outside (as a colleague from New Zealand pointed out the other day).

But even more difficult are the differens in culture, religions, gender and age.  We might for example say  “Merry Christmas” on the section FB-page (I’ve done that.), but what about other religions? Does a person with another belief feel involved in the IFLA work when their culture or religion is invisible? Are we open to different people with different backgrounds, religion, gender, age etc?

To improve and develop a communication built on inclusion, where everyone feel involved in the IFLA work and where everyone feel that their competence, their input and their work is being used by it’s full potential, we all need to concider different aspects on the environment we come from. To get all IFLA languages more used and visible is one important step, but the more difficult and important one is to get a communication built on inclusion in place.

What do you think about this? Do you have any suggestions on how to develop this work?

/Catharina Isberg (Information Coordinator, CPDWL)

2 Responses to “Communication on an international arena”


  • Loida Garcia-Febo

    -Also posted on IFLA’s Professional Speaking Blog-

    I’ve been traveling and read the thread about these points now. I find this to be a very healthy conversation. I thought of sharing my own experiences.

    First, let me congratulate you all for handling this so well: encouraging discussion on the blog while demonstrating our desire to include everyone in the conversation because these are important points. Great to have all of you on top of this and acting so quickly.

    Working with multilingual, multiethnic and multicultural populations as I’ve done during my entire career is beautiful and challenging. A key point is to be inclusive. I believe IFLA and its many units are very inclusive and sensitive to all types of beliefs and points of view. I also think it is very professional when, for whatever reason and unknowingly we misstep on something, we can have productive conversations, look at ways of proactively fixing things to avoid similar situations, and foster harmony among all colleagues. (So, yes! great again for the process started by CPDWL.)

    Allow me to share an example from New York City. When I first arrived to this city with people from 160 nations, I’d say Merry Christmas to everyone. I soon learned of the many religions of my colleagues and that they greeted each other with ‘Happy Holidays.’ I thought that I also respected my colleagues’ beliefs and Happy Holidays was a good way of including everyone. Now, I say a lot of Happy Holidays during the year and at the same time, also greet colleagues celebrating specific holidays related to their country or religion.

    Another example: Just now, I searched email exchanges I had with colleagues from the southern hemisphere and found an email from 2005 when I returned from the IFLA Congress and sent summer greetings to someone – and I received a response that it was very cold where they lived, not warm. Since then I am very aware of the seasons too.

    Finally, I’d like to suggest we bring these points about inclusion (greetings, naming publications, etc.) to our division and to the Professional Committee. It would be useful to mention these as good practices to follow when working with international colleagues and communities. The points can also be shared during the Professional Committee meetings including all the Divisions (online, in-person).

    I am happy to continue collaborating with IFLA to enhance communications and foster an even-more inclusive professional environment.

  • Thanks Catharina for starting this discussion and I hope there will be a lot of input.
    About gender we started a big discussion years ago in Germany and now you are asked to use male and female gender in your text or describe in the preamble that the used male gender will include the femal gender as well.
    Other idea: When we send seasonal greetings we could include the part of the world we are coming from like “Merry Christmas from Germany”. And I sincearly hope that other religions will send their greetings to us, too.

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