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Aboard the ISS: Why cross-cultural communication is a matter of life or death | Chris Hadfield


High above our heads is the International
Space Station. It’s an amazing, complex thing—the most
complicated thing we’ve ever built in space, one of the most complex international projects
ever conceived and ever completed. But the keyword of that is international. It is a place built by people from all around
the planet, 15 different countries. And that just sounds sort of theoretical,
until you start thinking: different languages, different units measurement systems—is it
inches or is it meters? Different electrical systems—is it 220,
is it 110, is positive ground, is it negative ground? But the most complex problem to deal with,
often, is just people who have come from a wildly different cultural background, a completely
different sense of what is normal. What do you do on a Friday night? What does “yes” mean? What does “uh-huh” mean? What is the day of worship? When do you celebrate a holiday? How do you treat your spouse or your children? How do you treat each other? What is the hierarchy of command? All of those things seem completely clear
to you, but you were raised in a specific culture that is actually shared by no one
else. If you have brothers or sisters, ask your
brother and sister in detail about some stuff and they will disagree with you. They have a different culture than you do,
so imagine if the people that you’re flying a spaceship with come from a wildly different
part of the world, trying to find a way to share a sense of purpose so that you can overcome
the natural barriers of a difference of culture to do something really difficult—that’s
one of the biggest tasks that an astronaut faces. You can start by just by learning language. It’s obvious if it’s as discrete as learning
English or learning Russian or learning Japanese, that’s a clearly defined language, but have
someone from Louisiana talk to someone from Brooklyn; they both speak English but the
language is very different. And if you want to speak clearly and communicate
with that person you have to recognize that the culture with which they interpret the
world is absolutely necessary for you to understand if you want to clearly communicate with them. And for me the only real measure of clear
communication and successful communication is a change of behavior of the listener. If all they did was go “uh-huh,” then
you have no understanding of whether they actually comprehended and internalized what
it was you were trying to communicate to them. But if you can see that their actions now
reflect a different idea, then you can measure whether what you were intending actually got
communicated across, then the loop is complete and you’ve successfully crossed whatever
cultural barrier was there. And so that requires a lot of extra effort. Learning to speak the language, learning to
express yourself in a way that is meaningful with the person you’re talking to, and then
doing it on a frequent enough basis to be able to see that your message got through
and see that that person is doing what it was that you were talking to them about and
seeing a change of behavior so that you know for sure that the two of you are on the same
page of this new thing that you’re doing. It’s complex. It’s not natural. It’s difficult, but it’s necessary. And the higher the stakes are—if you’re
doing something that is life or death or doing something that has a big financial consequence,
then the necessity to communicate effectively and clearly just continues to skyrocket, it
continues to go up, and it really puts more pressure on your own shoulders to learn to
be a good communicator, but also learn to be as a sensitive and aware as you possibly
can of the people that you’re speaking with. Try to overcome all of those natural barriers,
try to accomplish something together, no matter where you’re from.

95 Replies to “Aboard the ISS: Why cross-cultural communication is a matter of life or death | Chris Hadfield”

  • Are you talking about that object in the sky that's falling all the time. You know the object that is falling with the spin of the earth which is around 10,000 miles an hour. In an atmosphere that reaches over 4,000 degrees. Oh and the space station is moving faster than a bullet can move without melting. I was wondering how do you get past the Van Allen radiation belt? I could have sworn NASA's said they lost the evidence to how to accomplish this. Even though our technology today is Way Beyond the early days of space exploration. I've been told that y'all have heat shields did you get them from Star Trek the Next Generation LOL. Does the space station give a reflection like the Elon Musk Tesla car? It was hilarious when I saw the reflection of the Earth on the hood of that car LOL. Well because there shouldn't be a reflection. The Earth is not a light source, but Holograms are LOL especially in the studio😀😀😀😀😀😀😀. Excellent combination of VR and CGI.

  • "place built by ppl all around planet. 15 different countries…" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Space_Station#International_co-operation – has to be small planet where countries from 4 continents are practically not present (except Japan and Brazil). Not so much diversity there, which may be proving the opposite of what was intended.

  • this mans a legend. i had the honor of meeting him at a book signing in my city. what an inspiration

  • fake news. notice the looseness of that watch at 3:43? a rich astronaut could afford to tighten his wrist watch. this is a low payed actor, gotta keep your eyes open for these inconsistencies people!
    earth is flat

  • "Is it inches or is it meters?"

    It is only and always meters. Why should billions of people around the world (and more importantly the huge majority of the scientific community) adjust to the unreasonable measurement system of a minority (America and sort-of-UK)?

  • I'm so happy to see this clarifying video, cuz in one week I'll start a 6 month program in Vancouver named: Cross-Cultural Business Communication Program. Now I can begin my studies with whole broader expectation… Thank you Big Think!

  • The day we stick one of those ActorNUTs inside a vacuum chamber then you will understand why we never went to the moon 😂🤣😂😂

  • If a middle aged woman astronaut was saying this, it would be considered propaganda and that like bar would be cut in half.
    Chris is a rad guy. But god the transparent hypocrisies associated with idol worship can make me roll my eyes sometimes.

  • They ask each other,”What does laughing at the gullible public feel like to you? “Space agency Freemasons from all over the world know the international language of deception, performance and media fraud.

  • This is great advice for interpersonal communication here on Earth, too. Cultural awareness and sensitivity combined with a desire to understand each other is the only way to a peaceful future for our planet. The space industry constantly brings us knowledge, now it's bringing us wisdom, too. Thanks, Commander Hadfield.

  • After watching stawars episode 4-6 for the first time because I had only seen new hope, after watching them Ive notice the similarity in the US. As in it is a melting pot. We have numerous variations of culture here and we give respect to all the branches of life(exception large animals). For the most part there many different languages, appearances, traditions and its almost like you dont have to travel the world to defeat any implicit prejudices because this country(or at least common day folk) encourages working together and treating each other as equal. We also, a majority of us, treat women with the same encouragements. To be the best we can possibly be, without force. Personally I offer to those who claim that "no one ever said life was fair" to think about if any ever told them "it shouldnt be fair", or that should someone have to tell you how life should be? Will they believe in anecdotes the rest of their life? The US is very encouraging to the world whether or not anyone cares to notice, and if you disagree youll have to face the verdict of history. That is quite the impossible burden to waste a life, although we have put some tough stains on the middle east. Either way, rushed or responsible when your in the US all you have to do is look up an see the beauty. Its all around.
    Oh yeah and a big thanks to the world for following through on the Paris agreement. We would be next to nothing without the world's drive.

  • Great message. I'm still learning this. Day in and day out, this is an ever changing necessity for a harmonious life.

  • The flat earth proponents are worrying. Is this the first time in human history that people knowingly reject facts to go backward in their knowledge?

  • I think like some countries which have military training compulsory, all countries should have astronaut training compulsory as interpersonal skills development program.

  • That's precisely why we need to hold the press accountable for spinning facts and misleading the public for the purpose of ratings. 💲💲💲💲💲

  • I have been working in a team with people from; Poland, Hungary, Egypt, UK, Vietnam, Spain, Portugal, Greece, India and Pakistan. And a team with just English people. I ve learned if one wants to work with you language doesn't matter. What matters is leaving your ego behind and a strong willingness to collaborate.

  • I have a completely different experience. I've worked at international universities, research institutes and tech companies. Many nationalities are represented, and what cultural misunderstanding there is is resolved quickly, because of mutual intelligence and goodwill. When something is said that seems strange or offensive, the other person will assume a cultural / language hiccup and try to clarify. Very few people I know will choose to be offended. I find it hard to accept that the astronauts on the ISS act very differently.

  • There's nobody on the ISS. There's no ISS floating above our heads. There's no real video of it being built either. Don't you think there should be? One of mankinds supposedly biggest achievements and there's no video record of it being built. That's a little strange.

  • Finally some journalistic organization that understands that he is retired. Most just write "astronaut".

  • False. Chris Hadfield, you professional fraud. ISS footage is filmed in a studio. The earth is flat and motionless, space does not exist as described by these Zionists.

  • 26 people disliked a metered, rational explanation of why we should make an effort to be clear in our communication and in understanding what others are saying to us.

  • Hey Mr. Hadfield, is there any live footage of the ISS being built and launched into orbit. People usually document incredibly monumental achievements such as launching space stations into orbit. Just saying 🤷🏼‍♂️

  • Astronauts are ALL lying pieces of shit because there is NO ISS orbiting our STATIONARY Earth.

    Chris Hadfield will BURN IN HELL FOR HIS DECEIT!

  • The first time I had a project with an Indian, I was very confused. I asked a question, he said yes but shook his head. After a while, I realized that must have meant yes in India.

  • Globe believers defend NASA like Muslims defend the Quran…they may know nothing about it, but it’s the truth because they were taught so from a young age.

  • …DUDE…BEST SPEAKER EVER…
    honestly…I'd say he has the most comfortable speaking I've ever heard…ITS LIKE MORTYS TRUE LEVEL

  • Or you could tell them to do as you say and if you dont get it your way just throw them out of the airlock. You must become what i like to call the Alphanaut. They only dropped me at astronaut selection because they know how it is but don't have the guts to do what it takes.

  • That doesn't look like a tan you could get in Canada by May, he must be loving his celebrity status and doing lots of traveling.

  • This man needs to be in prison. He and all knowing members of that fraudulent organization. Their movie effects have gotten better, but NASA is the same bunch of criminals that have been exposed for fraud hundreds of times before. They are NOT a science organization, since no one can verify or falsify their claims. They are a covert military organization filled with proven liars. The world is run by sociopathic billionaire con men, and this lying scumbag is a minion.

  • Lo !) uh-HuH !/? it's not natural and complex ? wonderful ? Good job Chris !) @@@@ I wonder, were there any English astronauts in the ISS station ?

  • What an absolute gentleman. I would really love to sit and just talk with Chris, he seems very humble, and very willing to share his experiences. Such an asset to space and science education.

  • In space humans represent the process of evolution of the planet earth. In space we represent the the consciousness of the universe…

  • Are there any videos of this spaceman doing ANYTHING of "Scientific" significance on the
    international playstation ? Okay I didn't think so…..

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