University of Minnesota
Office of Human Resources

Navigating U.S. Academic Culture

In this workshop series designed for international faculty, scholars, and graduate students, we will discuss how differences in educational culture impact academic communication. Participants will learn and practice nuanced communication strategies that work in the U.S. multicultural academic environment.

Overcoming Email Anxiety

This workshop has been cancelled and will be rescheduled.

Do you ever agonize over composing emails to your professors, advisor, or boss? How about colleagues or students? Are you unsure of what to write in order to come across as polite and professional when you need to apologize for missing a meeting, or when you need to refuse someone’s request? If so, this workshop will cover these and other situations. In addition, we will discuss email etiquette, such as how to address people, how long an email should be, and how to avoid sending the “wrong” message and cause miscommunication.

Responding to Questions Fluently and Confidently

This workshop has been cancelled and will be rescheduled.


Answering questions is an important—yet challenging—skill. What should you do if you are asked a difficult or unexpected question? What strategies might help you handle such situations? Whether for classroom interaction, conference presentations, or even interacting with your advisor, you will have the opportunity to develop useful strategies for responding fluently and confidently.

Why don’t they get it: Navigating between words and their impact

This workshop has been cancelled and will be rescheduled.

This workshop will examine the uses of directness and politeness in dealing with students and colleagues, and in dealing with advisers and supervisors.

Talking to Your Advisor: Avoiding Rifts
Communicating with your advisor or supervisor in English can be challenging based on differing assumptions about power dynamics. When making a request or responding to your advisor’s suggestions, it’s important to use language that clearly communicates your meaning and intention. Using the wrong words might cause your advisor to react differently than you expect. This segment will provide practical information about advisory-advisee U.S. cultural expectations and practice using appropriate language to avoid rifts in communication.

Facilitators: Colleen Meyers, Elena Stetsenko

Directness and Politeness when Giving Instructions

This workshop took place on Oct. 15, 2012

Giving instructions to students and colleagues in English can be tricky because of differing cultural assumptions about formality and directness. Using the wrong words may cause listeners to misunderstand your meaning or misinterpret your intentions. This segment will provide information about U.S. cultural expectations and practice giving instructions in an appropriate way.