IAF Methods

Mutual Irritations Workshop

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This workshop can be used as a way of beginning a planning session and agreeing on ways of working  for a team that is located in different cultures

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This exercise was designed for a team; one half worked in the US and the other half worked in The Netherlands. The two parts of the teams were made up of different nationalities.

The aim is to set up some trans-cultural agreements for team behaviour, based on reflection about the differences between the one's culture's and the other culture?s ways of working.

understand and appreciate the team's working situation from both cultures.


You will be able to upload attachments once after you create the method.


  • Prepare worksheets



Types of participants: Multiple nationalities is best

Facilitator personality fit: Some multicultural experience is useful



1. As a team, you work not only in two national cultures, but also within two organisational cultures. It seemed silly of me to have you talk here about one culture and another culture, when in fact we are talking about specific bits of each of the two cultures.

2. So, this exercise is aimed at a team that is located in at least two countries. We are going to describe different aspects of working in these locations, and then agree on the style of working that the team, located in both places,  would like to proceed with.


1. You're going to do this assignment in two teams; one who works primarily in culture one and one who works primarily in culture two. First create individually two lists:  the things you find irritating, frustrating and difficult about trying to work with people in the other culture. Secondly, create a list of things you find helpful, constructive and positive about working with the other location.

2. Secondly, work together as a team to create two shared lists and to pick the most important 5 items the worst things about the working with the other location from your perspective and the best things about working with them.


1. Ask each team to report their two lists and answer questions of clarification.
2. First to Culture #1's side, are there items here that are new to you, that you didn't expect? Which item is for you the most common  you? Have you heard it before?
3. Now to Culture #2's side, any new items? Which item is for you the most well known?
4. How have any of these issues changed in the past 6 months?
5. Where would you say there are genuine structural issues that have to be dealt with?
6. Where would you say there are misunderstandings that need to be cleared up?


1. What are behaviors we could try out during this workshop to help cope better with these issues?

(Capture these items on a flip chart and post)


Usual or Expected Outcomes: Lists of Worse and Best things about a culture.

Potential pitfalls: increase tension

How success is evaluated: Understanding increases between the two locations


Source: Maureen Jenkins

Derived from: Alignment workshop

History of Development: Prepared for a team located in two countries.

Alternative names: Mutual Irritations and Appreciations Workshop

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