Case Study One: I'll show him how we do things here
Candice provides intake services and a couple have arrived to get the wife enrolled. The man, Rahim, continues speaking for his wife, Rawan, even though Candice has pointedly responded only to the wife with her answers. At one point Candice asks, "Can't she speak?" in a waspish tone and blocks the husband from looking at the document she is showing the wife. She doesn't spend the time she usually does providing extra helpful information.
- What do you think Candice is most concerned about?
- What do you think the couple is most concerned about?
- What pre-verbal, non-verbal, verbal, and post-verbal mismatches will likely occur throughout this encounter?
- Did either party reach the desired outcome for themselves or for their organization?
Analysis for Case Study One
Candice is mostly likely getting affronted because she suspects gender inequality is the basis for the husband's behavior. She is aged 45 and still remembers a time in Canada when many women married right out of high school or were encouraged to train only for service occupations such as nursing, teaching, and secretarial work, stopped working when they had children in their twenties, and fought hard to gain equal rights. Candice feels she needs to make a statement to support and protect the woman in front of her who she feels is clearly being disadvantaged.
The couple has decided to take a big step in getting Rawan enrolled in a course. They are only concerned about succeeding in this task. As Rahim came to Canada first and has much better English skills, he seemed an obvious choice for the task. In addition, men in his culture are responsible for the well-being of the wife and he feels he needs to ensure that the enrollment is successful and details obtained. Studying in a new country is a big step for his wife and she is grateful for his encouragement and support. Some men in her culture would not have encouraged her to study alone in a new country.
Pre-verbally and Verbally: Here the expectations were very different. Candice expected to serve one person and that person would be the actual client. In Canada, people usually go to service counters alone or may have someone on the side to help out as needed. In addition, any man who speaks for his wife would be labeled a chauvinist in her culture so she is immediately upset. Candice sees hundreds of people each day so hasn't stopped to think about the life history before her. She also expects a brief request but this man is telling their life story.
Rahim and Rawan immigrated to Canada to start a new life. Part of what excited them was the fact that many opportunities would open up for Rawan. Her dream is to get a diploma or degree but first she will need to improve her English. Their pre-planning involved quite a bit of internet research and figuring out what to bring and what to say. They have planned to go out and celebrate afterwards over coffee and pastries. In their country, it's important to give detailed explanations and build rapport so they started by explaining the situation. Rahim's English lacks some elements so he says, "Register my wife." instead of "I would like to help my wife register." He had no intention of being bossy but sometimes when you are learning a new language, your grammar and vocabulary fail you.
Non-Verbal Cues: Candice expects the applicant to step up and the husband to step back but for a variety of reasons the wife stands behind. This is quite common for Rawan in her culture and she is not concerned - the wife follows the husband. In addition, Candice expected a smile and friendly intonation from Rahim but he looks very serious and his accent makes his English sound a bit unfriendly. His lack of eye contact, different hand gestures, and attempt to avoid touching her hand on the paper, make Candice feel she is not respected as an individual. Rahim avoids looking directly and touching her out of respect for her as a woman and religious obligation.
Post-Verbal: Candice goes away and righteously complains about what happened to her colleagues. She is quite spiteful in her description and is genuinely worried about what would happen if Canada started back-pedaling on women's rights. She knows her behavior was rude even in her own culture but feels it was justified as it may have taught the man a lesson.
Rahim and Rawan feel quite dejected afterwards and not at all like celebrating. Rahim worries that his wife may learn this type of rude behavior at school. Rawan feels sorry for her husband as he has been treated in an undignified and unwelcoming manner. They had also had a list of additional questions but had been afraid to ask.
Neither party met the desired outcome. Candice failed in her role as an ambassador of her organization and culture. The couple did display behaviors not common in Candice's culture but it takes generations in a new country before major changes occur and, indeed, the couple may not need to change anything as none of their behaviors were illegal or abusive. Indeed K-W has long been home to the Mennonite Community where husbands are considered the leader of the family. In terms of the husband in this case speaking for the wife, newcomers everywhere have more proficient family members and friends do the talking.