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Cultural Capabilities Adoption In Workplaces

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Discuss how emotions and culture are linked.




Cultural capabilities, intelligence or self-awareness is defined as the skills, behaviors, knowledge and systems which would be needed to plan, improve, support and deliver services in a culturally acceptable, appropriate and respectable manner (Ang& Van Dyne, 2015). Cultural capabilities adoption in workplaces increases productivity (Belias&Koustelios, 2014). Safe space refers to an environment or place in which person(s) are feeling confident that they will not be discriminated, harassed, criticized, or be exposed to any emotional or physical harm(Barrett, 2010).


This report aims at analyzing an environment that is safe or unsafe for people to express themselves in a culturally respectful and appropriate manner. It will focus on a video to describe a scenario which exposes cultural capability/incapability in the context of a workplace. It will later give recommendations on what is supposed to be done in such an environment to improve cultural capabilities.


This report focuses on unsafe space created by a client who is impatient to follow procedures in an office situation. The video that discloses this interpretation is Fawlty Towers, communication problems; Handling Complaints season 2 Episode 1, a release of 1979, Feb 19 by Spiers B. (Director). Scene 4 will be the main focus of discussion which represent unsafe environment for people involved.


Summary and Observations

Summary of the video clip

The video is a 1979 BBC Television program titled Fawlty Towers where there is a receptionist involved with two clients in an office, a man named Mr. Fustin and woman Mrs. Richard. The woman who introduces herself as (Spiers,1979). Alex Richard seems dissatisfied and impatient with the receptionist and keeps shouting at her as the gentleman remain orderly waiting to be served(Spencer-Oatey& Franklin, 2012). Her shouting creates confusion in the office where later she is tricked to a conversation with a man who is introduced as Manuela (Roestone Collective, 2014). This scene introduces four distinctive characters with different attitudes and cultural capabilities(Spencer-Oatey& Franklin, 2012). The receptionist is Poly, two clients a male and female Mr. Fustin and Mrs. Richards and an organizational mate Manuela.


The receptionist in a spacious office who is referred as Poly has asked MrFustin immediately he arrived “Hello, can I help you?” and the woman, Mrs Richard who has just arrived comes from behind MrFustin and shouts “yes would you give me change for this please”?. “In just one moment, am dealing with this gentleman,” Poly replies. And after being asked to wait she becomes furious saying the taxi-driver was waiting for the change. This makes Poly very uncomfortable and disturbed (Roestone Collective, 2014). Poly politely asked whether Mr. Fustin would mind if she served her and replies, “nono just go ahead”. After a moment of receiving the change, Mrs. Richard returns interrupting that she booked a room(Kostelecký& Russell, 2011).  When Poly continues to serve Mr. Fustin she shouts again, “but you have not finished with me!” This is where we are introduced to their names as Poly tries to identify their names(Spencer-Oatey& Franklin, 2012). Poly tells her that she was attending another gentleman at the moment but Mrs. Richard insisting that she hadn’t finished with her yet (Kostelecký& Russell, 2011). She becomes furious making Poly to shout that Mr. Fustin had come first (Samovar, Porter, McDaniel, & Roy, 2014). After a long argument, Poly tries to calm the situation jokingly by inviting Mr. Manuel who seems to have no clue of what is going on to help Mrs. Richard (Scheffer et al., 2015). This gives Poly a cool time serving Mr. Fustin. Manuel tries to in scene 5 confuse Mrs. Richard in a moment by communicating a language she did not understand(Flanja, 2009). This moment gives Poly humble time to collect her senses and in scene 6 they return to Poly where Poly tries to tell Mrs. Richard that Manuel was from Barcelona. Poly gives out the key for room 22 to Manuel instructing him to take her to the room(Spencer-Oatey& Franklin, 2012). The environment clears from being unsafe space (Bolin & Kurtz, 2018).


Intercultural Communication

At the beginning of the video clip in scene 4, Poly seems very polite and displays a high level of cultural intelligence as she asked politely asked “can I help you”, in a cheerful tone of voice to Mr. Fustin and maintains it even as Mrs. Richards try to interrupt the service of another client (Samovar, Porter, McDaniel & Roy, 2014). After she realizes that Mrs. Richard was not going to calm she asked Mr. Fustin whether to serve her with change first and Fustin agrees(MacNab, Brislin&Worthley, 2012). After Poly realizes that Mrs. Richard was returning shouting as always she decides to give a dump ear to avoid confrontation that may make unsafe environment but she shouts the more and avoids eye contact (Bolin & Kurtz, 2018). Poly voice changes from polite to loud shout at Mrs. Richard that Mr. Fustin had arrived before her.


Poly’s reaction

Poly behaviour demonstrates what individual from cultures emphasizing on social cohesion like the office is required to do to win their emotional response first to evaluate and determine emotions most appropriate in that given situation (Van Dyne, Ang& Tan, 2017).

Cultural emotions and body language

Mrs Richard uses her body language where she moves around shouting and lifting her hands shows non-acceptance of and emotions. MrFustin, on the other hand, would not talk at all even when he may have felt his right denied (Van Dyne, Ang& Tan, 2017). Poly seems to get furious which is expressed in her face as the negative conversation goes on and on(Flanja, 2009). Mrs Richard gets even more emotional when Poly continues attending Fustin without listening to her. Different cultures have a different emotional aspect on different situation and body language(Flanja, 2009). Poly displays an excellent cultural intelligence at some point and losses herself out as Mrs Richard becomes impatient and continues to shout (Bolin & Kurtz, 2018).


As Mr Manuela walks around the office, Poly seems to care about the unsafe space created by this conversation and tries to avoid it by calling Manuela for what seemed to make the environment safe for work. She jokingly smiles and asks whether Manuela could offer some assistance to Mrs Richard (Scheffer et al., 2015). This helps in reducing tension causing unsafe environment which would expose either Poly or Mrs Richard into emotional harm (Peltokorpi, &Froese, 2014). There is seven emotion identified through research, and they include happiness, sadness, surprise, disgust, fright, anger and contempt (Callan, 2016). These emotions are common to all because even blind people express them the same even though they have never seen them in other people (Fridlund, 2014). In the movie there are different emotional displays for instance in scene 5, Manuela face seems surprised as he pays attention to Mrs Richard’s explanation. When he speaks a language she does not understand, her face expresses contempt as she asked him what he meant (Fridlund, 2014). After Mrs Richard fails to understand him, she even looks sad and even walks away from him after empathizing with him for some time (Callan, 2016). This situation she felt unsafe to continue with a conversation she would not understand (Bolin & Kurtz, 2018).



Mrs Richard should be talked to on how to behave in public for the good of many as shouting and being impatient would be disrespectful to other people.

Creating a small room where every individual will have to knock on the door before allowed it would be better (Van Dyne, Ang& Tan, 2017). This will help to reduce such scenarios like the one caused by Mrs Richard hence creating safer space for the receptionist and the client (Johnson, 2016).

Poly displayed her cultural unawareness when she began insisting that she is serving MrFustin first. This should be avoided by ensuring that you tell the client in a nicer way that they will have to wait for the first customer to be served (Hadley, 2018). This means a more polite language like, “Would you please wait a minute I finish with him/her.”? This would avoid client becoming furious and noisy hence creating safe space(Flanja, 2009).

People working in public places should enroll for courses in intercultural communication classes to boost their knowledge on the issues they are likely to deal with in times of work (West & Smith, 2016). This will help to avoid confrontations that make unsafe space in the workplaces.


Clients who are noisy and impatient should be handled with humility to avoid shouting at them which prompt them to cause unsafe environment (Wilson, Gross & Bull, 2017). However, there should be a more devices ways to ensure kind and polite customers do not feel neglected but their safety being catered for(Flanja, 2009).

Summary and Conclusions

The video Fawlty Towers represent a most common scenario in job places where people are exposed to different cultural interactions in their daily lives. In a working environment where many clients are involved, there is a need to increase servicemen that will be listening and attending to the clients. Shortage of service men and women would mean exerting pressure on the available employee which in itself is unsafe space which makes them emotionally unstable and may result to talk rudely to the client unknowingly. Culture shapes the way people behave and react towards certain exposures, and at times emotions are communicative and will express what we feel.



Ang, S., & Van Dyne, L. (2015). Conceptualization of Cultural Intelligence: Definition, distinctiveness, and nomological network. In Handbook of cultural intelligence (pp. 21-33).Routledge.

Barrett, B. J. (2010). Is" Safety" Dangerous? A Critical Examination of the Classroom as Safe Space.Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 1(1), 9.

Belias, D., &Koustelios, A. (2014). Organizational Culture and Job Satisfaction: A review. International Review of Management and Marketing, 4(2), 132.

Bolin, B., & Kurtz, L. C. (2018).Race, Class, Ethnicity, and Disaster Vulnerability.InHandbook of disaster research (pp. 181-203).Springer, Cham.

Callan, E. (2016).Education in Safe and Unsafe Spaces.Philosophical Inquiry in Education, 24(1), 64-78.

Fridlund, A. J. (2014). Human Facial Expression: An evolutionary view. Academic Press.

Flanja, D. (2009). Culture Shock in Intercultural Communication.StudiaUniversitatis Babes-Bolyai.StudiaEuropaea, 54(4), 107.

Johnson, G. (2016). Exploring Strategy: text and cases.PearsonEducation.

Kostelecký, V. A., & Russell, N. (2011). Data tables for Lorentz and C P T violation. Reviews of Modern Physics, 83(1), 11.

MacNab, B., Brislin, R., &Worthley, R. (2012). Experiential Cultural Intelligence Development: context and individual attributes. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 23(7), 1320-1341.

Peltokorpi, V., &Froese, F. (2014). Expatriate Personality and Cultural Fit: The moderating role of host country context on job satisfaction. International Business Review, 23(1), 293-302.

Roestone Collective. (2014). Safe space: Towards a reconceptualization. Antipode, 46(5), 1346-1365.

Samovar, L. A., Porter, R. E., McDaniel, E. R., & Roy, C. S. (2014). Intercultural communication: A reader. CengageLearning.

Scheffer, M., Barrett, S., Carpenter, S. R., Folke, C., Green, A. J., Holmgren, M., ...& Van Nes, E. H. (2015). Creating a Safe Operating Space For Iconic Ecosystems.Science, 347(6228), 1317-1319.

Spencer-Oatey, H., & Franklin, P. (2012). What is Culture.A compilation of quotations.GlobalPAD Core Concepts.

Spiers, B. (1979). Fawlty Towers, Communication Problems, Handling Complaints, Season 2 Episode 1 (BBC Television program) Retrieved from [Video]. Hollywood: BBC Television.

Van Dyne, L., Ang, S., & Tan, M. L. (2017).Cultural Intelligence.Oxford University Press.

Wilson, N., Gross, J., & Bull, A. (2017). Towards cultural democracy: Promoting cultural capabilities for everyone.

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