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Humour and Politeness in the Culturally Diverse Workplace

Humour varies across cultures, and so does politeness. How can you be humorous and respectful in a way that lands with everyone? We have created a unique workshop to help you to foster a more inclusive workplace.

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In today's globalised economy, cultural diversity is the norm. But with diversity comes new challenges, especially when it comes to communication. Humour and politeness are powerful tools for building relationships and creating a positive work environment. But what happens when different cultures have different ideas of what is funny or polite?

People feel isolated when they don't 'get' the joke.


Conceptions of polite behaviours and of appropriate humour vary across cultures. This means that even when people are determined to treat each other with warmth and respect, they can accidentally offend or confuse each other.

We have designed a fun and thought-provoking workshop to help you navigate the complexities of a modern workplace. 

We learn about our own culture when we meet people who don't share it.

"I remember learning (while living at home in France) how I should behave were I ever meet the Queen of England. Yet, I wasn’t told that my French sense of humour could shock an English audience."

Lisa Fraser, Adamah Media

Who is this course for?

Everyone who works among Brits will learn something in this workshop.

  • Are you British? Then get ready to be surprised by how 'British' styles of humor and politeness are perceived by other cultures.

  • Did you grow up outside the UK? We think you'll have great examples to contribute. Also, you will come away with a better understanding of why Brits behave the way they do.

What you'll learn

Cultural awareness is a huge subject. By zooming in on two aspects of culture which frequently lead to misunderstandings and hurt feelings, this course can have an immediate impact on everyday work interactions. 

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I would recommend this training to all organisations big or small - you have turned a complex topic into straightforward, no-nonsense learning opportunities. I cannot wait to work with you both again.

Lesley Rance, Workforce Development Advisor, Gateshead Council

Get ready to rethink what it means to be a considerate colleague

Speakers of English as a first language can sound cryptic when they're trying to be polite and rude when they're trying to be funny. If English is your first language, have you ever considered that your word choice for 'polite' requests might actually confuse people?

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At English Unlocked we help our clients to 'unlock' their English so that they can be understood easily by people who didn't grow up with English as their mother tongue. If English is your first language, you need to learn how to be polite without being indirect. This workshop is for you.

Your hosts

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Dr Maame Nikabs grew up in Ghana. When she started working in the UK she couldn't believe the rude language used by her colleagues - until she understood the cultural norms behind their behavior.

Shelley Purchon spent her twenties working in Spain. She made a terrible impression on her first Spanish boss, who never laughed once at a single joke Shelley made (spoiler - she didn't know Shelley was joking.)

Contact us now to request a price list and further information. In your email, let us know whether it is for a group or just one person - we'll reply straight away. 

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