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Last Updated on April 10, 2020

This FREE activity is one you are welcome to include in your course planning and it is excellent for using in workplace training including for onboarding new hires, for providing intercultural communication training, but also as an ice breaker to get people talking and working together to answer the quiz questions.

Page Contents

What You Need for This Activity

All you really need for this communication and ice breaker activity is a copy of the culture quiz questions and answers and these are listed lower down on this post.

You can choose to print off the questions as a handout, or for an environmentally more friendly option, you can create a PowerPoint PPT slide and have the questions on a projector in the classroom.

Activity Timeframe & Group Sizes

It depends on if you are running a short course i.e. 1 or 2 hours, or a full-day training session but I suggest allowing 10 minutes for people to get into groups of 2 or 3 to do this activity and then 5 minutes for a class round of and a brief discussion on the task.

If you wish to though, you can ask participants to work on this task individually although this is a task that, if done in pairs or bigger groups, provides the additional option of helping the participants to get to know each other. The only risk of participants doing this task together is that one person might be very well-traveled and know all of the answers and not give others a chance to answer.

Suitability for Offline vs Online Training?

This activity is designed such that it can be used in a classroom in person or in virtual classrooms (using breakout rooms).

  • Online teaching: When using this activity for online teaching, we recommend sharing the questions on a digital document before the class i.e. by email. A PDF called ‘Classroom activities’ or ‘Students Activities handbook’ can be suitable and ask the participants to open but try to avoid looking at the activities before-hand.
  • Offline in-person Teaching: You can have the questions displayed via a projector (saves on printing) or print a copy of the questions for each group (email us if you need a copy).

How This Communication Activity Works

For this exercise, participants can work in pairs or in small groups. If you run this exercise in groups, you can organize it as a competition and give a small prize (such as a box of sweets) to the winning group.

Give each pair or each group of participants a copy of the ‘Quiz’ handout and give them 5 minutes to answer the questions.

After 5 minutes, give them a copy of the ‘Quiz answers’ handout and go through the answers with them for about 5 minutes.

The aim of this exercise is to start introducing participants to intercultural communication topics, such as:

  • use of gestures and touch
  • colors symbolism
  • general etiquette
  • perception of time
  • languages and power distance.

If you are using this quiz as part of the Intercultural Communication training, you can explain these concepts, later on, you can return to the questions from the quiz and connect them with the concepts you will cover.

The Quiz Questions

1. When conducting business in Germany, is it best to:

  • Buy local beer and take it to a meeting as a gift?
  • Not waste anyone’s time; be punctual and direct?
  • Give out your business cards to everybody?

2. Is the OK sign offensive in Japan?

  • Yes?
  • No?

3. You have arrived at a business meeting in South Korea and you are meeting the company’s president. You should:

  • Look him in the eye and extend your hand for a handshake?
  • Nod your head slightly?
  • Bow and wait for him to initiate the handshake?

4 – In which of these countries is it expected that you always raise your glass lower than your senior manager?

  • Italy?
  • Argentina?
  • South Korea?

5. A prospective client, in Japan, gives you her business card. You should:

  • Receive it with both hands and carefully study its details before putting it away?
  • Take it with one hand and quickly put it away in your wallet or pocket?
  • Copy the information and leave the card on the table?

6. During a business meeting in Thailand, you avoid:

  • Wearing black?
  • If you are a man; crossing your left ankle over your right knee?
  • Pointing to a statue of Buddha?
  • Having silent pauses during a conversation?

7. What color is best for business cards in China?

  • Green?
  • Black?
  • Gold?

8. When meeting someone in a business context in France, what should you avoid doing?

  • Using first names, if meeting someone for the first time?
  • Making eye contact?
  • Asking about family?

9. Which of these should you avoid in China?

  • Silence during conversations?
  • Touching and physical contact?
  • Speaking about family?

10. In Dubai (in the United Arab Emirates):

  • Coffee is served at the beginning of the meeting?
  • The exchange of business cards is simultaneous: you offer yours with your right hand and receive that of the other with your left hand?
  • Your meeting may be interrupted for prayer?
  • Your host will be very attentive to your remarks, without any distraction?

11. When delegating tasks to an Indian colleague, s/he responds to all your questions with a ‘yes’. This means:

  • s/he is showing respect?
  • s/he understands completely?
  • s/he will do as you ask?

12. Slurping your soup loudly is NOT considered rude in:

  • France?
  • Japan?
  • The United Kingdom?

13. In which country you should never eat all the food on your plate, as it implies that the host did not provide enough food?

  • Italy?
  • China?
  • India?

14. In South Korea, you should never write people’s names in which color?

  • Red?
  • Green?
  • Purple?

15. In which country does nodding your head up and down mean ‘no’?

  • Bulgaria?
  • Russia?
  • Thailand?

16. You are speaking at a business meeting and the Japanese delegate closes his/her eyes. What does this mean?

  • S/he is tired, maybe suffering from jet lag?
  • S/he is disengaged?
  • s/he is concentrating and listening hard?

17. In which country is the number 4 considered unlucky?

  • Iran?
  • Brazil?
  • China?

18. When talking with members of your team who do not speak your language as your first language, what do you do?

  • Speak more loudly and slowly than usual to avoid misunderstandings?
  • Speak naturally but avoid using jargon, colloquial language and idioms that may be difficult to understand?
  • Find someone who speaks their language and ask them to translate?

19. You are meeting clients in Latin America, where you understand they have a relaxed attitude to time. When do you aim to arrive for your meetings?

  • A few minutes early, as you would at home?
  • Half an hour late, as this is what you experienced when these clients visited you in your home country?
  • Five to ten minutes late?

20. In which country is it considered offensive to leave a tip after a meal?

  • USA?
  • Japan?
  • Brazil?

Quiz Activity Answers

1.b2. b3. c4. c
5. a6. a, b and c7. c8. a
9. b10. c11. a12. b
13. b14. a15. a16. c
17. c18. b19. a20. b

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Dr Paul Symonds

Paul is a trained researcher with a PhD in wayfinding. Paul is a co-founder of Symonds training. We focus on providing high-quality training materials packages and programs for trainers, classroom teachers and HR departments.

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