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Problematic Situation Due to Culture and Language Differences


Discuss about the Cultural Intelligence and Capability for Peaceful Relationship.

People from diverse cultural settings use different languages to communicate, in relation, this creates a barrier in terms of communication for the people involved. Subsequently, so as to counter such a situation, it is important for key players to adopt a safe space in order to maintain a peaceful relationship. The report will effectively unveil to its readers the subject of cultural intelligence as well as the concept of safe place and how it can be achieved among people of different cultural origins.

The report aims at describing the problematic situation which is as a result of language differences between two individuals, Manuel and Basil. Also, the report will analyze why exactly the situation is unsafe for people having what can be examined as cultural barriers and lack of cultural intelligence. In addition, it also provides recommendations that aim at improving the situation so that the issues revolving around communication barriers are fixed hence achieving a safety space.

The central focus of the report is misunderstanding as a result of language differences between two individuals, Basil and Manuel. The scenario can be comprehensively illustrated through the video of Fawlty Towers. In relation, Basil tells Manuel to consider a language lesson from a BBC Television Program. Technically, Basil, the manager and an English-speaking person tries to correct the pronunciation of Manuel, his waiter who speaks Spanish. An unsafe space in this case is reflected when Basil is unable to achieve this and is fed up with Manuel.

The name of the TV program is “Fawlty Towers- Basil Gives Manuel a Language Lesson”, the program will be used to in an in-depth analysis examine the concept of cultural intelligence and safety space. Fawlty Towers was published on June 5, 2009. The TV program is based on a work setting where a hotel manager called Basil request his waiter known as Manuel to make the needed changes in the arrangement of a meal. The two people are the central role players in this video. The video in this case is relevant to the background study of cultural intelligence and capability in that it examines how exactly the aspects of cultural differences acts as an agent of creation of an unsafe space.

There are two relevant scenarios that portray the main thoughts of this report. The manager, while sitting in his desk noticed that the Manuel carried excessive butter in the trays for guests. He calls Manuel and utters “There is too much butter on those trays”, being a Spanish speaker, Manuel panics upon hearing the phrase “on those trays” and technically rephrases this to “ono dos treys”. The miscommunication is further extended when the attempts from both sides to effectively communicate with the other fails. Basil feels frustrated and burned out as a result of such misunderstandings. Basil then orders Manuel to go away. Basil’s assistant then suggests to him to train a monkey so as to overcome such situations. The video is a comprehensive of how exactly the concept of cultural diversity may be a challenge.

Cultural Intelligence and Safety Space

The act of Basil getting frustrated and burned out when he fails to successfully communicate with Manuel depicts culture antagonism, in this case Spanish and English antagonism. The disappointment on Basil’s face proves that the two people are in a culturally unsafe space as the two characters fail to communicate with each other effectively. The layout of the space is small due to the fact that it is a small workplace. Basil is technically in the position of a front office desk manager while Manuel carries out his responsibility of a waiter who serves food to clients. The following is a table that will set out the case study observation in regards to the TV program.

Scene Number/

Time Frame

Physical Factors:

Size and layout of the space

Communication Factors like Body language, choice of words and voice

Signs of Exclusion or Inclusion

Aspect of cultural intelligence

Scene Number 1

Moderate space and size, less proximity between the two characters

Basil: On those trays (English)

Manuel: Ono dos treys (Spanish)

Manuel indicates signs of exclusion to Basil and as a result makes rephrasing

Manuel shows lack of cultural intelligence

Scene Number 2

Moderate size and space

Basil attempts to communicate in Spanish but Manuel does not understand

Basil follows the principle of inclusion as he attempts to communicate in Spanish so as to be culturally capable with Manuel.

Basil shows cultural intelligence when he attempts to speak in Spanish so as to communicate with Manuel

Scene Number 3

The space is now larger between Basil and Manuel

Basil is disappointed with Manuel because he is not able to understand Spanish

Basil follows principle of exclusion

Basil lacks cultural intelligence because he gets frustrated and lacks patience to be culturally adaptive with Manuel

In order to demonstrate the understanding of key concepts in the unit and how they relate to the case study, it is important to independently examine some of the key terms and analyze their intended meaning. After the description of the terms, the subsequent section will relate the terms to the TV program.

Cultural intelligence is the capability of a person in regards to the adaptation to cultural differences, a person with cultural intelligence can interacts with people of different cultural affiliations effectively (Yitmen, 2013). Also, it can also be defined as the natural capability of an outsider to interpret an unfamiliar or ambiguous gesture of others.

A safe space is a place where an individual has the chance to express themselves fully without the fear of being compromised, uncomfortable or unsafe due to factors such as orientation regarding sex, ethnicity, and affiliation of religion, ability of mental strengths or the background of one’s culture (Van Dyne, et al., 2012). Safe space actually imposes the rules for guarding the concept of self-respect of each person.

Cultural capabilities technically make a referring to the knowledge, behaviors and systems and the skills which are essential for planning, supporting, delivering and improving services in a way which can be classified as appropriate and respected by culture (Nielsen & Momeni, 2016).

Cultural self-awareness can be considered as a communicating foundation. It makes an involvement of the ability to be aware of aspects such as values of the culture, beliefs as well as perceptions (Ng et al., 2012). Technically, it gives a laid-out procedure of doing things in a specified way and also talks of the procedure of seeing the world from a whole different perspective.

From the first scene of the program, it is noticeable that Manuel, being that he is from a Spanish culture lacks cultural intelligence. This is reflected when he rephrases sentiments from Basil in Spanish terms. Consequently, this made Basil more aware of the cultural differences and hence triggers Basil to speak in Spanish with Manuel. The Spanish language however that Basil attempts to speak is improper and not understandable and as a result, Manuel makes other meanings of what Basil says.

Fawlty Towers and Cultural Intelligence

Consequently, this makes Basil get even angrier at Manuel than he already is. At this stage, it is clear that Basil is incapable of adaptability towards cultural differences and hence his temper gets the best of him and he scolds Manuel to go away. Basil tells his assistant that he tried to be culturally adaptive towards Manuel with no success. As a result of the lack of cultural intelligence, Manuel failed to culturally adapt with the English words of Basil hence a total disequilibrium took a formation in the entire scenario. In summary, this scenario made the total space to be unsafe in regards to cultural respect.

In the following scene, Basil’s assistant was disappointed with Basil’s reply when he was asked what the problem was. She examined the scenario and understood that Basil was not patient in his communication with Manuel and also was not interested in making any further adjustment or compromise with Manuel. In relation, his assistant also notices the existence of an incapability regarding cultural differences. She suggests to Basil to train a monkey that would take the place of Manuel so that there would be no such conflicts brought about by the problem of cultural barriers.

In summary, being an unsafe place, it is more than clear that Basil and Manuel cannot accommodate each other even in the professional terms. Subsequently, this is because the two don’t have the patience to show respect for each other’s respective cultures. They also have problems in understanding each other’s language. Their egos also play a central role in the language barrier communication problem as each character finds it hard to compromise for the other. Awareness regarding culture is technically a matter of discussion when interaction is done between people from diverse cultures (Erez, et al., 2013).

People interpret things in different ways and a behavior considered appropriate in one culture can be considered inappropriate in another. In relation, it is important for a person belonging to one culture to possess a strong sense of cultural intelligence so as to become capable to interacting with people from other cultures (Jones, 2013). In simple words, high levels of cultural intelligence lead to higher cultural capabilities and hence making one have a better adjustment capability. In summary, an integration of self-awareness, cultural intelligence and capabilities will work towards creating a safe space for people of different cultures.

From an analysis of the discussions above, it is highly recommendable that: Patience is an important variable and should be employed in respecting each other’s cultures. In the event that both Basil and Manuel showed patience and respect for each other’s culture, then the whole situation could not have escalated. They need to employ such compromise in order to maintain their professional terms. Trying to make a good gesture to make interest in the other charters mind is also equally essential (Eisenberg et al., 2013).

Key Concepts in the Unit

In relation, it is vital for both Basil and Manuel to make gestures and body languages in a way that will increase a sense of interest in the other characters mind (Li, Mobley & Kelly, 2013). Their behavior out to be cool and calm towards each other. Also, since Manuel has very little understanding of English, he ought to maintain the conversation in English with Basil and should not rephrase Basil’s words in a Spanish context since what that does is to hurt the sentiments of Basil resulting in a messy situation.


The TV program covered relevant scenarios that show how cultural incompatibility can create a situation of unsafe space between people. The conflict can be traced from when Manuel rectified Basil’s phrase in Spanish and as a result this hurt the sentiments of Basil. Basil however tried to be culturally capable through his attempts to use Spanish words but Manuel could not understand. Basil lost his patience and as a result, drove Manuel away. Relatively, this situation can be credited to the lack of cultural intelligence of Manuel as he rephrased words from Basil. The act of Basil losing his temper on the other end showed incapability in cultural adaptation. In order to maintain a safe space, it is paramount that the two characters forget their cultural affiliations and show patience and respect for each other’s culture (Crowne, 2013).


Crowne, K.A., 2013. Cultural exposure, emotional intelligence, and cultural intelligence. An exploratory study. International Journal of Cross Cultural Management, 13(1),.5-22.

Eisenberg, J., Lee, H.J., Brück, F., Brenner, B., Claes, M.T., Mironski, J. and Bell, R., 2013. Can business schools make students culturally competent? Effects of cross-cultural management courses on cultural intelligence. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 12(4), 603-621.

Erez, M., Lisak, A., Harush, R., Glikson, E., Nouri, R. and Shokef, E., 2013. Going global: Developing management students' cultural intelligence and global identity in culturally diverse virtual teams. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 12(3), 330-355.

Fawlty Towers, Communication Problems, Handling Complaints, Season 2 Episode 1 (BBC Television program) Retrieved from

Jones, E., 2013. Internationalization and employability: the role of intercultural experiences in the development of transferable skills. Public Money & Management, 33(2), 95-104.

Li, M., Mobley, W.H. and Kelly, A., 2013. When do global leaders learn best to develop cultural intelligence? An investigation of the moderating role of experiential learning style. Academy of Management Learning & Education,12(1), 32-50.

Magnusson, P., Westjohn, S.A., Semenov, A.V., Randrianasolo, A.A. and Zdravkovic, S., 2013. The role of cultural intelligence in marketing adaptation and export performance. Journal of Marketing Research, 21(4), 44-61.

Ng, K.Y., Van Dyne, L., Ang, S. and Ryan, A.M., 2012. Cultural intelligence: A review, reflections, and recommendations for future research. Conducting multinational research projects in organizational psychology. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Nielsen, S.B. and Momeni, M., 2016. Structural Capability of an Organization toward Innovation Capability. Journal of Management Research, 8(2), 86-102.

Van Dyne, L., Ang, S., Ng, K.Y., Rockstuhl, T., Tan, M.L. and Koh, C., 2012. Sub?dimensions of the four factor model of cultural intelligence: Expanding the conceptualization and measurement of cultural intelligence. Social and personality psychology compass, 6(4), 295-313.

Yitmen, I., 2013. Organizational cultural intelligence: a competitive capability for strategic alliances in the international construction industry. Project Management Journal, 44(4), 5-25.

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