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This information is intended to convey the underlying concepts for Reclamation's decision processes. It is not mandatory.
See the Reclamation Manual for official Reclamation-wide requirements.

Reclamation's Decision Process Guide

Differing Cultures

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Success:Get success

Show how your project and process benefit your constituencies. Talking to farmers about internal organization may not answer their questions about the availability of water for their crops.

Unique histories, value structures, and perspectives have often developed in local areas relating to a problem.

Communication techniques, language, and even actions will vary from place to place. A conservative in San Francisco can be very different from a conservative in North Dakota. A Native American tribe's way of reaching solutions and understanding issues will differ from a water district's. This does not mean any of the perspectives are wrong or false--they are simply different.

Be sensitive not only to varying needs but to varying cultures. Understand these different ways of doing business to be effective.. Something as simple as revising the time of day for changing workshifts can solve traffic and power production problems.

Be aware of local conditions and issues. Think about the context of the data and its relevance for the local participants. Instream flows and salmon passage create issues in the Northwest, while flat meandering streams create other issues in the Southwest.

Local people and communities may feel that you are an outsider and may not be willing to deal with you. Acknowledge that you are an outsider (even if you live in the area your perspective is not the same as theirs). Explain what you bring with you. If you have worked on similar problems, say so. Your most important credential is your willingness to listen and acknowledge that their concerns are unique and their perspectives aid in finding a solution.


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Be careful. Some terms have very different (even opposing) definitions in different contexts. Similar sounding terms or titles may create problems.

Various institutions and organizations develop unique styles of communication and buzzwords. You may need to use certain terms to fit into the jargon (bureauspeak) or avoid terms which have acquired different meanings than the one you intend


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Please contact Deena Larsen 303-445-2584 with questions or comments on this material.