PON – Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School – https://www.pon.harvard.edu
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Five Ways to Redefine Negotiation in Cross-Cultural Situations
Figuring out how to negotiate in cross-cultural situations can seem like a daunting endeavor, and for good reason. Negotiating across the cultural divide adds an entire dimension to any negotiation, introducing language barriers, differences in body language and dress, and alternative ways of expressing pleasure or displeasure with the elements of a deal. As a result, many negotiators fear that they might accidentally scuttle an important deal or do something that causes lasting shame. A handful of fundamental negotiating skills can be put in to practice easily in order to overcome these fears, redefine negotiation in an international context, and better understand how to negotiate in cross-cultural situations.
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Adapt to New Processes
Getting accustomed to different processes in a negotiation can be challenging, but a willingness to embrace your counterpart’s way of doing business can be essential. This is especially true when a negotiator is visiting their counterpart in their home country. While this can feel overwhelming, it is important to remember that we negotiate in cross-cultural situations all the time. For example, any businessperson who negotiates with another business has prepared for that negotiation by studying their counterpart’s company “culture.” That culture has the same set of rituals, preferences, priorities that can or cannot be negotiated.
Preparing for a cross-cultural negotiation requires the same careful preparation, and done properly, preparation and a willingness to adapt to new processes can help a negotiator get to the fundamental issues of a negotiation without obsessively thinking about the process. For example, the Paris Climate talks in 2015 were reportedly structured using a South African process called indaba as their framework. Participants were aware of the process, and many had never negotiated using it before, but by preparing for the negotiations with the fundamentals in mind, negotiators from across the world reached an agreement.
Negotiate Important Issues Separately
Understanding the importance of negotiating respectfully with a counterpart should be paramount in any situation. When preparing for how to negotiate in cross-cultural situations, the same rules apply, but for that reason, they need not overwhelm one’s preparation. Negotiation comes down to reaching a mutually acceptable agreement over issues that matter to all of the parties, and that means getting to the issues. Sometimes it also means separating them out and negotiating each one distinctly.
In the 2015 United States-Iran Nuclear Talks, it became clear to the lead negotiators that a host of issues were in play, from the political to the technical, and all of them were of the utmost importance. Instead of trying to negotiate them in the same fashion, the two teams agreed that the technical issues of nuclear physics should be negotiated by experts from both sides, away from the table where the political issues were being negotiated. While the two sets of negotiations informed one another, separating out the issues created space in which negotiators could focus on the most important elements of a deal without distraction. Where issues and positions can quickly become indistinguishable from one another in a cross-cultural negotiation, separating the issues can be an effective way to get to the best outcome.
Listen to Your Interpreter
Being able to speak the language of a counterpart can seem like a tremendous advantage in a challenging negotiation, and sometimes it is. Yet language can also be deceptive, leading a negotiator to believe they have a window into the other side that may not be as clear as we might think. Precise language is the key to creating lasting agreements, and attempts to speak the language of the other side can undermine that precision with misunderstanding. Negotiation experts often advise having a trusted interpreter at your side instead.
Interpreters can provide valuable information and can interpret critical information more quickly from the other side. When negotiating the creation of the Gulf War Coalition, former Secretary of State James Baker grew frustrated with a counterpart, forcefully closed his notebook and prepared to stand up and leave. At that very moment, his interpreter told him to wait, and that his frustration had moved his counterpart. Sure enough, within moments, an hours-long negotiation came to an end and Baker got what he wanted, but it would never have happened without a trusted interpreter at his side.
Break Bread Together
American negotiators prize the idea of “getting down to business,” and negotiators from other countries around the world do too, but not always. In many cultures, tackling the issues of a negotiation head-on neglects an important social element that is just as necessary for creating a lasting deal. As the United States builds closer ties with Argentina, President Obama found himself in just such a situation at a state dinner with his counterpart in Buenos Aires in March.
As part of the dinner, Obama and the other guests were treated to a tango, and suddenly the President was asked to join in. He quickly obliged, to the amazement of the onlookers. As much as any potential deals between the United States and Argentina, this simple act of participating in a respectful bridging across cultures had an immediate, and significant impact on the relationship between the two countries.
You Can Still Say No
Understanding how to negotiate in cross-cultural situations requires constant learning, curiosity, and respect, but the rewards can be immeasurable. Perhaps the most challenging aspect to prepare for is how to manage a negotiation where you do not reach an agreement. There is an added feeling of pressure to reach a deal when one goes to great efforts to reach out to a potential counterpart, but going into a negotiation with this in mind can be the most valuable asset, because a respectful no can become “not now,” and lead to unexpected agreements down the road instead. By using these five approaches to cross-cultural negotiations, you can begin to forge those kinds of relationships and the lasting agreements that come with them.
Have you experienced cross-cultural situations during negotiations? Leave a comment.
In-law relationships can be a wonderful part of married life but they can also be stressful. Either way, your in-laws are part of your life. It’s important to work on your relationship with your spouse’s parents, including setting boundaries when necessary.
Building close relationships with your extended family isn’t always easy. But, learning to get along with your mother-in-law or father-in-law is often worth it for your well-being and your mental health.
Here are some ideas to get you started.
1. Put Your Marriage First
When you got married, you signed up to be a husband or wife, and becoming a son-in-law or daughter-in-law came with the territory.
Always focus on maintaining a healthy relationship with your spouse as the number one priority. You two are a team and should act as a united front when addressing issues with each other’s parents.
2. Enforce Healthy Boundaries
Boundaries are what you will and will not do. You and your spouse should decide together what the boundaries are in your own family. For example, if you value your kids’ early bedtimes, you may not attend evening events, even if it’s your sister-in-law’s birthday.
If your mother-in-law comes for an uninvited visit every day and you don’t enjoy her clinginess, tell her that she’s welcome every other Friday for dinner and let her know you won’t be answering the door otherwise.
Are your in-laws toxic to your relationship? Watch the video for the warning signs:
3. Do Not Confront In-Laws
The rule of thumb is that each of you should address your own parents when issues come up. Confronting your mother-in-law or your father-in-law (or even your sister-in-law) sets the stage for drama because it makes you out to be the bad guy.
4. Let Go of Expectations
Most of us have a picture in our minds of what our father-in-law or mother-in-law will do for us and our children. But, that just isn’t always real life. At the end of the day, we cannot control other people.
Try not to focus on what you wish your in-laws would do or be. Even if it’s hard, dropping expectations completely can help you find ways to appreciate the little things. Your in-laws might not babysit every Friday so you can have a date night, but that occasional time that they offer, show your gratitude.
5. Keep Your Cool
In-law relationships can be amazing but they can also be stressful. You may disagree about politics or your in-laws may criticize your parenting. While you have every right to set boundaries and not allow yourself to be belittled, it can be very helpful if you can also exercise good self-control in heated moments.
Taking a deep breath or even stepping out for a few moments can help clear your head so that small conflicts don’t erupt into screaming arguments. Just remember that if something does bother you, bring it up with your spouse later and work together to find a solution.
6. Try to Be Flexible
If you have a good relationship with your in-laws, try to let smaller infractions slide. If Grandma gives your kids too much candy on visits, maybe that is something you can just let go of (and if sweets are a big concern of yours that’s OK too). The point is to try and pick your battles when you can.
If your in-law situation is not so peaceful, this advice also applies. Focus on addressing the issues that matter most while letting less important problems slide.
7. Find a Way to Meet Their Needs
Let’s say your father-in-law wants to be a part of the house-rebuilding you and your spouse are doing together. But, the two of you are enjoying bonding as a couple over this project.
In this situation, consider asking your father-in-law to build a new fence. Now, you have given him a way to participate, but he can’t take over.
8. Avoid Hot Topics
Try to keep topics like politics, religion, or anything else controversial out of your conversations with your in-laws. These people are a part of your life and your children’s lives and it’s honestly best to just avoid heated topics.
9. Look for Common Ground
You might have to be intentional about building a healthy relationship with your in-laws. Try to find things that you can bond over. Maybe your mother-in-law can teach you an old family recipe or you can make it a habit to send your father-in-law videos of your kids.
10. Always Be Kind
Your kids are always watching and listening, so it’s important to value kindness in all your interactions with family members and extended family.
Extend kind greetings to your in-laws and speak in a respectful tone at all times, even if you don’t feel like they do the same to you. No one wins if you try to treat others like they treat you.
Do you only see your in-laws on holidays? Or maybe holidays are just super stressful? Check out our tips for dealing with in-laws on festive occasions.
PON – Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School – https://www.pon.harvard.edu
Team-Building Strategies: Building a Winning Team for Your Organization
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When managing cross-cultural communication in business negotiations, avoid the common tendency to give too much weight to cultural stereotypes.
When preparing for cross-cultural communication in business negotiations, we often think long and hard about how our counterpart’s culture might affect what he says and does at the bargaining table.
That’s completely understandable, research suggests. The effectiveness of your communications with a negotiation counterpart may have a stronger impact on your results in cross-cultural negotiations than in same-culture negotiations, according to research published in the Journal of Applied Psychology by Leigh Anne Liu of Georgia State University, Chei Hwee Chua of the University of South Carolina, and Günter K. Stahl of the Vienna University of Economics and Business.
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In their study of cross-cultural communication in business negotiations, the researchers looked at the quality of communication that American and Chinese individuals experienced during a negotiation simulation. Overall, the results showed that pairs of negotiators from different cultures had lower-quality communications and, consequently, reached worse outcomes than pairs from the same culture.
Interestingly, the relatively small number of cross-cultural pairs who overcame such communication difficulties actually achieved better outcomes than negotiators from the same culture. Why? With communication barriers out of the way, these cross-cultural pairs capitalized on their differences to reach more creative agreements, thus gaining an edge over same-culture negotiators.
The results suggest that there are great benefits to be gained from cross-cultural negotiations in international business, but it is important to manage cultural barriers to communication.
Weighing Cultural Differences
If you’re like most people, you wisely understand that cultural differences are likely to be a factor in negotiations. Books, films, television shows, and personal experience help to shape intercultural negotiating schemas, or templates that provide a quick, easy way of reading a foreign counterpart. Ideally, our intercultural negotiation schemas help us avoid blunders when negotiating with a foreign counterpart and also help us understand behavior that might otherwise be puzzling.
Though intercultural negotiating schemas can be useful, negotiators often give too much weight to them, according to research in Negotiation and Conflict Management Research by professors Wendi L. Adair of the University of Waterloo, Canada; Masako S. Taylor of Osaka Gakuin University in Japan; and Catherine H. Tinsley of Georgetown University.
The research team surveyed American professionals who had conducted business negotiations with Japanese counterparts, as well as Japanese professionals who had experience negotiating with Americans. The negotiators were asked to reflect on how they prepared for talks with people from their own culture and how they prepared for talks with people from the other culture (Japanese or American), as well as how such negotiations unfolded.
Interestingly, the participants typically adjusted their negotiating style too far toward the other side’s culture. Specifically, they expected a counterpart to negotiate as she would at home, not understanding that the counterpart would attempt to adjust her strategy to the foreign context as well. As a result, both sides tried too hard to adapt to their stereotypical ideas about the other side’s negotiating style. Ironically, this type of cultural sensitivity often led to culture clashes.
Research the Individual as Well as the Culture
When preparing for cross-cultural communication in business negotiations, how much emphasis should you place on culture? You don’t want to offend your counterpart with insensitive behavior, but focusing too much on culture can backfire.
Conduct background research on your counterpart’s culture, but spend even more time getting to know her as an individual, including her profession, work experience, education, areas of expertise, personality, and negotiating experience. And because your counterpart also needs to treat you as an individual rather than a stereotype, build in time for small talk before getting down to business.
The Benefits of Stress Reduction
In his research on cross-cultural communication in business negotiations, Columbia University professor Michael W. Morris has found that negotiators are more likely to behave according to cultural stereotypes when facing extreme demands on their attention.
In one study, participants were asked to judge an employee whose behavior had led to a negative result. When facing time pressure, American participants were more likely than Hong Kong participants to blame the individual rather than the situation for the problem—an American negotiating bias.
Emotional stress, deadlines, and accountability to others from your own culture can cause you to act in lockstep with cultural expectations rather than carefully analyzing the situation, according to Morris. Given the importance of international business communication, do what you can to reduce stress at the bargaining table, whether by taking breaks, extending deadlines, or asking a third party to help you resolve any differences that arise.
What lessons have you learned from your own experiences with cross-cultural communication in business negotiations?
Culture is a way of thinking and living whereby one picks up a set of attitudes, values, norms and beliefs that are taught and reinforced by other members in the group. This set of basic assumptions and solutions to the problems of the world is a shared system that is passed on from generation to generation to ensure survival. A culture consists of unwritten and written principles and laws that guide how an individual interacts with the outside world. Members of a culture can be identified by the fact that they share some similarity. They may be united by religion, by geography, by race or ethnicity.
Our cultural understanding of the world and everything in it ultimately affects our style of communication as we start picking up ways of one’s culture at around the same time we start learning to communicate. Culture influences the words we speak and our behavior.
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Cross Cultural Communication
Cross cultural communication thus refers to the communication between people who have differences in any one of the following: styles of working, age, nationality, ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. Cross cultural communication can also refer to the attempts that are made to exchange, negotiate and mediate cultural differences by means of language, gestures and body language. It is how people belonging to different cultures communicate with each other.
Each individual can practice culture at varying levels. There is the culture of the community he grows up in, there is work culture at his work place and other cultures to which one becomes an active participant or slowly withdraws from. An individual is constantly confronted with the clash between his original culture and the majority culture that he is exposed to daily. Cultural clashes occur as a result of individuals believing their culture is better than others.
Cross cultural communication has been influenced by a variety of academic disciplines. It is necessary in order to avoid misunderstandings that can lead to conflicts between individuals or groups. Cross cultural communication creates a feeling of trust and enables cooperation.The focus is on providing the right response rather than providing the right message.
When two people of different cultures encounter each other, they not only have different cultural backgrounds but their systems of turn – talking are also different. Cross cultural communication will be more effective and easier if both the speakers have knowledge of the turn taking system being used in the conversation (For example: One person should not monopolize the conversation or only one person should talk at a time).
LarayBarna’s Sources of Miscommunication in Cross Cultural Exchanges
1) Assumption of similarities : This refers to our tendency to think how we behave and act is the universally accepted rule of behavior. When someone differs, we have a negative view of them
2) Language Differences : Problems occur when there is an inability to understand what the other is saying because different languages are being spoken. Talking the same language itself can sometimes lead to discrepancies as some words have different meanings in various contexts, countries or cultures
3) Nonverbal Misinterpretation : The way we dress, the way we express ourselves through our body language, eye contact and gestures also communicates something. A simple gesture like nodding the head is considered to be YES in certain cultures and NO in others
4) Preconceptions and Stereotypes : Stereotypes involves putting people into pre-defined slots based on our image of how we think they are or should be. It may consist of a set of characteristics that we assume that all members of a group share. This may be true or may be false. But stereotypes may lead to wrongful expectations and notions. A preconceived opinion of another can lead to bias and discrimination
5) Tendency to evaluate : Humans tend to make sense of the behavior and communication of others by analyzing them from one’s own cultural point of view without taking into consideration why the other person is behaving or communicating a certain way
6) High anxiety : Sometimes being confronted with a different cultural perspective will create an anxious state in an individual who does not know how to act or behave and what is considered to be appropriate (For example: A Japanese man and an American having a business meeting where both are unsure of the other’s cultural norms)
To reduce the above barriers to cross cultural communication, one can take the effort to develop one’s listening skills. This will ensure that we start hearing the real meaning of what is being said instead of understanding at face value. Becoming aware of our perceptions towards others will ensure that we take steps to not prejudge a person or stereotype them. By accepting people and their differences and acknowledging that we don’t know everything will make us open up to people and their differences resulting in us using contextual information for better understanding. Seeking feedback and taking risks to open up channels of communication and being responsible for our feelings and actions will go a long way in ensuring that miscommunication is mitigated.
Understanding the Impact of Cross-Cultural Differences
Put your best foot forward when working in unfamiliar cultures.
What could be wrong with sipping vodka in Russia? Or with eating with your left hand in India, or with patting the back of a colleague in Korea to thank them for a “job well done”?
In many countries, these actions are harmless. But in others, they can give a wrong impression or cause offense. They could even damage a relationship or ruin a major deal.
In fact, whatever culture you’re from, it’s likely that you routinely do something that could cause offense somewhere else in the world.
In this article, we’ll discuss why it is so important to be aware of different cultural traditions. We’ll also highlight some gestures and actions to avoid if you want to build good working relationships with people from these cultures.
The Importance of Cultural Awareness
It’s not just professionals working overseas who need to learn cross-cultural business etiquette . Stop and think about how many different cultures you come into contact with at work.
Even if you work in your home country, your colleagues and suppliers could hail from other cultures. Your organization might decide to acquire or merge with an organization in a different country. And your customers, too, may be located in dozens of countries worldwide.
Our world’s diversity is what makes it so fascinating. When you take time to understand the reasons for this diversity, you show respect for other people’s cultures. And when you do this in a business context, you’ll improve your working relationships and develop your own reputation.
Considering Cultural Differences
Consider the following questions when thinking about how a culture might differ from your own:
- What values does this culture embrace? How do those values compare with those of your culture?
- How do people make decisions, conduct relationships, and display emotion?
- How does this culture treat time and scheduling?
- What are the social rules and boundaries surrounding gender?
- How does this culture display and respect power? Which authority figures are revered?
- How do individuals relate to their employers?
- How do people in this culture communicate? How direct are they in what they say and mean?
See our article on cultural intelligence to learn how to work well in different cultures. This is a powerful skill that can be learned and developed throughout your working life.
Be humble. Whatever you learn about cultural differences, there will be local and regional variations that you won’t know about. Admit that you’re keen to learn, and encourage people to tell you about these variations.
Common Cross-Cultural Mistakes
Below we’ve listed actions and items that could cause offense in a variety of cultures and countries.
This list is not exhaustive! Please let us know about customs in your country using the comments section at the bottom of this article.
People abstain from eating and drinking certain foods for many religious and cultural reasons. Manners and expectations at the table can also differ.
- In Asian and Russian cultures, it’s common not to talk during a meal because the food is the focus. Most conversation takes place after dinner. This isn’t the case in, for example, Japan, where colleagues often discuss work after hours and while socializing over a meal.
- How much you eat can cause offense in some cultures. For example, your hosts in Russia, Greece, and Italy could be offended if you don’t eat enough.
- Pay careful attention to how you use your chopsticks in Asian countries. Never use them in a gesture or for pointing, and never stick them upright in your rice bowl: this is an omen of death. Don’t use them to spear a piece of food or to tap a glass or bowl, either. And never cross your chopsticks; they should always lie side by side.
- Try to avoid turning down vodka in Russia – when it’s offered, it’s a sign of trust and friendship. Vodka is served neat, and you should drink it all at once; Russians consider sipping vodka to be rude.
- Muslims, Mormons, and Seventh Day Adventists avoid alcohol.
- Hindus, India’s largest religious population, consider it unholy to eat beef. Most are also vegetarian. Muslims and Jews are forbidden to eat pork (and, in addition, Jews do not eat shellfish), and Roman Catholics may choose fish rather than red meat on Fridays.
Body Language and Gestures
- In India, Africa, and the Middle East, people always use their right hand for greeting, touching, and eating. They consider the left hand unclean, so you should never use it for anything publicly.
- Several cultures consider crossing your legs to be rude. For example, in the Middle East and South Africa, crossed legs often show the sole of the foot, a sign of an ill wish or a bad omen. In Japan, it’s considered rude to cross your legs in the presence of someone older or more respected than you.
- Certain gestures considered acceptable in one country can be highly offensive in another. For example, a “thumbs up” gesture is seen as a sign of satisfaction in the West, but is highly offensive in some Middle Eastern countries.
- In the United States, a handshake demonstrates that negotiations are finished, and that everyone is leaving on good terms. In the Middle East, a handshake is a sign that serious negotiations are now beginning.
- In many cultures, pointing is impolite, so it’s usually best to avoid it entirely. If you must gesture toward something, use your entire hand.
It can be challenging to know which gestures are taboo.
Play it safe and avoid gestures until you’re sure that they’re acceptable. Watch how locals use body language, and follow their lead.
Clothing and Color
- In the South Pacific, Asia, Thailand, and Russia, it’s courteous to remove your shoes before entering a home. This helps maintain cleanliness; but it’s also a sign that you’re leaving the outside world where it belongs.
- Some cultures pay careful attention to clothing. For example, it’s important to be well dressed in Italy and the United Arab Emirates, and sloppy or casual clothing is considered impolite.
- The color of your clothing could also cause offense. For example, never wear yellow in Malaysia; this color is reserved for royalty. In China, you’ll make a better impression by wearing red, which is considered lucky, than by wearing white, which is associated with death.
Personal space is the distance that you keep between yourself and another person. It varies widely between cultures.
- In the United States, many people prefer to keep one to two meters’ space between friends and family members, and up to three meters between strangers and business associates. These preferences are similar in the United Kingdom, Norway, Germany, and other European countries.
- The personal space requirements of Saudi Arabians are much lower: they often stand very close to one another, even those they don’t know well.
- Chinese people and people from other Asian cultures are also typically used to less personal space than Westerners.
It’s important to understand the personal space requirements of a different culture, so that you’re not perceived as rude (by standing too far away) or pushy (by standing too close).
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One tactic: Address conflict immediately.
One tactic: Address conflict immediately.
One of the most essential characteristics for a high-functioning team — perhaps the single most important characteristic — is trust. Anyone who has worked on a team knows that team members must be able to trust each other to get the job done, and be committed and dedicated to the overall welfare of the group. In any group of individuals, trust is challenging to create and sustain, but in the case of a multicultural team it can be especially difficult for a variety of different reasons.
First of all, communication styles vary across cultures; so, too, does the extent to which people socialize or get down to business at the start of a meeting. There are differences in conventions around time, giving feedback, and disagreeing publicly. Multicultural teams are prone to friction due to perceptions of ethnocentrism, with minority team members feeling ignored or not taken seriously.
How can leaders of multicultural teams leverage the upside of diversity without falling prey to its inherent challenges? In our collective experience working with hundreds of individuals on cross-cultural teams around the globe, leaders of multicultural teams can use the following five tips to build trust between team members.
Structure the team for success. The great organizational behavior scholar Richard Hackman used to argue that the best way to ensure a positive process in a team is to create initial conditions that set up the team for success. For a multicultural team, that means making sure the team has a clear and compelling direction, its members have access to the information and resources they need to successfully carry out the work, stakeholders in different geographies and functions are on board with the team’s agenda, and the team is staffed wisely — ideally with people who have the requisite technical skills as well as cultural intelligence and global dexterity. Given the built-in challenges these teams face to begin with, it’s essential to staff them with as many curious, flexible, thoughtful, and emotionally stable members as possible.
Understand the cross-cultural makeup of your team. The leader of any cross-cultural team needs to understand the different cultures, language differences, and “fault lines” within the team, as well as the potential for misconception and miscommunication. For example, if the team comprises three Germans and three Koreans, you might guess that feedback will be a cultural tripwire. Many Germans are notoriously comfortable giving direct, unmitigated feedback, whereas the reverse is typically the case in Korea unless the dialogue is between senior and junior colleagues. Making note of these tensions can help you anticipate potential challenges and resolve them swiftly and effectively.
That said, leaders also must understand individual personalities. What if the three Korean members of the team all went to school in the U.S., lived and worked in Europe, and are anything but prototypical Korean in their cultural style? That would make for a very different set of predictions about group dynamics.
Set very clear norms and stick to them. Multicultural team members are inevitably going to bring a wide variety of different work styles and personal preferences to the table. The team leader must establish team norms that everyone sticks to — no matter what their personal default might be. Rather than simply imposing your own preferred style, start by taking into account what will work best for the team as a whole, and consider incorporating practices from other cultures that could be useful. For instance, if you normally assign individual responsibilities but many team members have a preference for handling work in small project groups, you could assign complex tasks to small groups.
You and Your Team Series
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Make the norms clear, but be aware of who on the team might find it difficult to meet those expectations due to cultural backgrounds. You may need additional communication for those team members. For example, if you have established that team members must arrive at meetings by the designated time to ensure a prompt start (Western-style punctuality), you’ll need to reinforce that norm consistently across the group. The same goes for patterns of communication. Multicultural team members benefit from knowing what type of information they will receive when, and from having a regular rhythm for video conferences, teleconferences, email updates, and one-on-one discussions. This creates context and predictability that helps to compensate for those instances when team members are remote from one another. Of course, sometimes things change and adjustment is required, but in general, keeping a consistent, clear structure regarding work styles and expectations is a critical way to create a common-ground team culture.
Find ways to build personal bonds. Both of us have found that one of the most powerful tools in easing potential conflict on a team is establishing personal connections. Naturally, different global cultures have different norms about relationship building. In some cultures, like the UK, it takes a long time for people to build a friendship; in other cultures, like Brazil, it seemingly happens overnight. Given this, you may not be able to encourage deep, personal relationships — but you can foster rapport and individual connections. Perhaps you discover that someone with a completely different background from you is also an amateur photographer, or you both have children who play the piano. You’d be surprised at the power of these personal bonds, especially on a multicultural team. Leaders must create conditions for these connections to form: Organize social events, pair quieter team members with vocal ones, or directly facilitate introductions between specific members who you think might have hidden commonalities. Chances are, the benefits will circle directly back to the team.
When conflict arises, address it immediately. Conflict is inevitable in any team, let alone a multicultural one. If tension arises, address it quickly so that a small conflict doesn’t balloon into something impossible to manage. Leaders need to be capable of understanding multiple cultural perspectives and serving as a cultural bridge between parties in conflict situations. This may require an understanding of indirect as well as direct communication styles, and a readiness to have a frank group discussion or confidential side conversations, depending on the situation.
Trust is the glue that makes any team function at a high level, but it doesn’t happen magically, especially in the case of a team composed of culturally diverse members. With the motivation to make things work and the tips above, you should be in a great position to leverage the benefits of diversity while minimizing its challenges.
By Alice M Shown | Submitted On February 21, 2011
Although you may think law is a dry subject, it deeply influences culture. Culture can be defined as a way of life, and what good is it if we do not have the freedom to live safely? Laws protect our fundamental rights, and enable us to pursue our goals. Conversely, norms held dear by a culture influence the laws set by the members of the community. Technological advancements also influence culture, and laws need to be modified accordingly. According to the American Association of Matrimonial Lawyers Facebook is to blame for one out of five divorces in the United States. In court, flirty emails and messages sent on Facebook can be used against you.
In a democracy, laws are decided by the legislature, which is elected by the people. If the people voice their displeasure regarding a particular law, the legislature’s members should take it up. The judiciary is independent, so that if the legislature is at fault, it can be penalized. The right of a citizen to appeal the court’s decision also influences our notions of how free we are.
A liberal culture can only claim to be liberal if laws do not differentiate between people on the basis of race, class, and gender. Protesters down the ages have ensured that today we can live in a culture of transparency.
Although law is precise, and culture is felt rather than described, the two are inter-related. Voting, discussion of politics, and cultural practices all help in refining the legal system and changing outmoded cultural practices.
Although the law holds all men and women to be equal, in practice it is often found that men draw a higher wage than women for the same work. Only through incessant campaigning, publicity, and legal steps can this anomaly be resolved.
Racial discrimination was rampant earlier. Although legally employers cannot discriminate on the basis of race, some still do so in practice. Only if citizens make the effort to stand up for their rights will matters change further.
Class barriers often prevent the poor from fighting the rich in courts. Culturally too, the rich are often accorded more respect. By pointing out discriminatory practices, debating, and educating people on these issues, permanent change can result.
Educational institutions are often leaders of change in law and culture. Law students should think about issues relating to justice, freedom, and culture. By discussing these topics among themselves, their teachers, and other citizens, they can organize poplar opinion around issues of the hour.
It is important to sensitize yourself on topics relating to law and culture. Only then can you prepare future generations for change required in the system.
If law and culture interest you, look out for discussions by organizations in your area on these topics. The Forum on Law, Culture, and Society of the Fordham Law School encourages discussion on these topics by organizing events where you can interact with eminent personalities in these fields.
Educators today hear a lot about gaps in education – achievement gaps, funding gaps, school-readiness gaps. Still, there’s another gap that often goes unexamined: the cultural gap between students and teachers.
A bunch of teachers here, they think they know what’s wrong with us. But they don’t know. If people want to help us, they have to see what we’ve been through, not from what their own experiences tell them.
— Billie, a Lakota teen speaking of the teachers at her high school
Most of us in the education profession are white, middle-class, monolingual-English speakers. Increasingly, the same profile does not hold true for our students. Often, when we stand before our classrooms, the faces looking back at us do not look like our own. Many of us try to bridge this difference with an embrace of color-blindness or the Golden Rule, treating others the way we would want to be treated.
But the truth is: culture matters.
Culture isn’t just a list of holidays or shared recipes, religious traditions, or language; it is a lived experience unique to each individual. As educators, it’s our job to stimulate the intellectual development of children, and, in this era, it’s simply not enough to operate on the axis of color-blindness.
To truly engage students, we must reach out to them in ways that are culturally and linguistically responsive and appropriate, and we must examine the cultural assumptions and stereotypes we bring into the classroom that may hinder interconnectedness.
To engage students effectively in the learning process, teachers must know their students and their academic abilities individually, rather than relying on racial or ethnic stereotypes or prior experience with other students of similar backgrounds.
Many teachers, for example, admire the perceived academic prowess and motivation of Asian American students and fail to recognize how even a “positive” stereotype isn’t positive if it presses students into molds not built for them individually.
Hear elementary school teacher, Diane Holtam, speak about how she works with other teachers to disabuse stereotypic notions of Asian American students’ abilities.
by Winston Sieck updated September 11, 2021
In some countries, women are expected to cover themselves from head to toe. In others, bikini bottoms are plenty sufficient. In some places, baskets are carried in the arms. In others, they are placed on the head.
Cultural norms are the standards we live by. They are the shared expectations and rules that guide behavior of people within social groups. Cultural norms are learned and reinforced from parents, friends, teachers and others while growing up in a society.
Norms often differ across cultures, contributing to cross-cultural misunderstandings.
Many studies have documented these differences. Far more casual observers have commented on them. Recently, Michele Gelfand and a large team of cross-cultural psychologists stepped back from the cataloging process and asked a bigger question.
They wanted to know how much cultural norms really matter. Do norms matter more in some places than others?
Some societies may care quite a bit about their cultural norms, insisting on strong conformity to them across the board. They reflect “cultural tightness.” Others tolerate a lot of deviance from the norms. These are “culturally loose” societies.
Gelfand and colleagues theorized that tightness and looseness are reflected at different levels within a culture that mutually support one another. They published their research in a Science article, “Differences between tight and loose cultures.” In it, Gelfand’s team describes evidence for each of the following four levels:
- Ecological & Historical Threats. Hostile neighbors, disease, and dense populations increase the need for coordinated and disciplined action from the population. More factors like these tighten the cultural norms. As the threats diminish, cultures loosen up.
- Socio-Political Institutions. Culturally tight nations tend to have more autocratic governments, restricted media, stronger suppression of dissent, and more severe punishments for crime.
- Everyday Social Situations. All kinds of interactions with fellow members of the culture are more formal in nations with tight cultural norms. These include situations at home, the workplace, school, places of worship, parks, and others. Loose cultures provide more room for individual discretion in such situations. A wider range of behavior is counted “appropriate.”
- Psychological Adaptations. People’s minds become attuned to the different requirements of living in places with tight or loose cultural norms. Individual psychology then further supports the level of cultural tightness or looseness. People living in tight cultures become more focused on avoiding mistakes. They are more cautious in their own behavior, and more closely monitor themselves and others for norm violations.
Culturally tight or loose societies appear completely dysfunctional when viewed from the other perspective. The cultural tightness-looseness framework can help you to take a step back, and see things a bit differently. It can help you take a cross-cultural perspective. When you see or read about events around the world, think about whether the players involved are from tight or loose cultures. Consider how they got that way, and all the factors involved in maintaining the system as it is.
Without understanding, the differences between countries with tight and loose cultural norms provide much fodder for conflict. Going back to that first level, falling into conflict can increase tightness in cultural norms across the board.
Gelfand, M., Raver, J., Nishii, L., Leslie, L., Lun, J., Lim, B., Duan, L., Almaliach, A., Ang, S., Arnadottir, J., Aycan, Z., Boehnke, K., Boski, P., Cabecinhas, R., Chan, D., Chhokar, J., D’Amato, A., Ferrer, M., Fischlmayr, I., Fischer, R., Fulop, M., Georgas, J., Kashima, E., Kashima, Y., Kim, K., Lempereur, A., Marquez, P., Othman, R., Overlaet, B., Panagiotopoulou, P., Peltzer, K., Perez-Florizno, L., Ponomarenko, L., Realo, A., Schei, V., Schmitt, M., Smith, P., Soomro, N., Szabo, E., Taveesin, N., Toyama, M., Van de Vliert, E., Vohra, N., Ward, C., & Yamaguchi, S. (2011). Differences Between Tight and Loose Cultures: A 33-Nation Study Science, 332 (6033), 1100-1104 DOI: 10.1126/science.1197754
Importance of Cross Cultural Communication in Business
In today’s global marketplace, it’s commonplace to do business with people from all over the world. Whether you’re dealing with manufacturers from another country or building an office on a different continent, it’s important to be aware of the cultural norms of the people around you. Your customers may be from different parts of the world even if they are all locally situated in one city, so don’t underestimate the importance of being culturally sensitive.
Understand the Importance of Cultural Sensitivity
Cultural sensitivity involves being respectful of other cultures. Understanding and knowing about different cultures and accepting the differences and similarities helps people to communicate more effectively and build meaningful relationships.
Our culture affects many aspects of our lives, from the way we speak to the way we use hand gestures. Our attitudes toward our colleagues and superiors come from our cultural viewpoint, as does the way we expect to be treated as customers.
Do Your Research
Cultural awareness in business involves preparing and learning about the different cultures with which your business interacts. However, your business’s attitude toward cultural sensitivity should start at the top. Build the importance of cultural sensitivity into your company policy so that your employees know to show everyone the respect they deserve regardless of whether or not they are of different cultures. Establish consequences of not being culturally sensitive so that your employees understand the weight of this matter.
If your company does business with people from a particular country, for example, offer your employees training so that they can learn the cultural norms from that country. Lead by example and participate in the training.
If your customer service representatives frequently speak with people who have different native languages, consider learning a few key phrases in those languages together as a team. This shows your customers how much you value their business and shows your employees the importance of cultural sensitivity.
Reduce Communication Barriers
One of the biggest barriers to cross-cultural business dealings is communication. Your business stakeholders may speak a different language or dialect or use hyper-local phrases with which you aren’t familiar. Even though English is used as the international language of business, people have different levels of fluency.
In some parts of the world, speaking directly and plainly is common in business. In other parts, more nuanced phrasing is seen as proper business behavior. As a result, it’s critical to understand the way your business stakeholders communicate so you can ensure your message doesn’t get lost in translation.
Review Workplace Etiquette
Take time to figure out the workplace etiquette norms of your business stakeholders. Our cultures play a big role in how we use body language to communicate at work. In North America, making eye contact during a business transaction shows honesty and an effort to establish a connection.
However, in the Middle East, making sustained eye contact with a person of the opposite gender can be seen as inappropriate. In some parts of the world, frontline employees don’t make eye contact with their superiors because it’s considered rude. Lack of cultural awareness examples include making eye contact with people from cultures where it is frowned upon.
Sometimes, what is not said is also a cultural variation. In most Western countries, silence is seen as a problem. It signals that the person to whom you’re speaking is disinterested or not paying attention. On the other hand, silence can be used to show agreement in some Eastern countries. In some aboriginal cultures, it’s important to have a period of silence before answering a question.
Show Respect and Empathy
The key goal of being culturally sensitive is to show others respect. Make an effort to learn about the cultural customs your employees, customers and partners hold dear. Show them you value your relationship with them by sharing in their customs.
For example, if a Muslim colleague is celebrating Eid, a major religious holiday, bring a treat to enjoy together. If a customer is from a different country and celebrates a national holiday, wish him well on that day. Small acts of kindness can go a long way in showing others the importance of cultural sensitivity in business.
In today’s diverse workplace, communication issues can take on an added dimension of complexity. Every culture has its own set of tacit assumptions and tendencies when it comes to face-to-face interactions, and trying to get your point across effectively can sometimes be difficult. Even when a language barrier doesn’t exist, cross-cultural communication can be challenging. Here are our top ten tips for effective cross-cultural communication:
1. Maintain etiquette
Many cultures have specific etiquette around the way they communicate. Before you meet, research the target culture, or if time allows, do some cross cultural training. For example, many cultures expect a degree of formality at the beginning of communication between individuals. Every culture has its own specific way of indicating this formality: ‘Herr’ and ‘Frau’ in Germany, reversing family and given names in China and the use of ‘san’ in Japan for men and women etc. Be aware of these familiarity tokens and don’t jump straight to first name terms until you receive a cue from the other person to do so.
2. Avoid slang
Not even the most educated non-native English speaker will have a comprehensive understanding of English slang, idioms and sayings. They may understand the individual words you have said, but not the context or the meaning. As a result you could end up confusing them or at worst, offending them.
3. Speak slowly
Even if English is the common language in a cross cultural situation it’s not a good idea to speak at your normal conversational speed. Modulating your pace will help, as will speaking clearly and pronouncing your words properly. Break your sentences into short, definable sections and give your listener time to translate and digest your words as you go. But don’t slow down too much as it might seem patronising. If the person you’re speaking to is talking too quickly or their accent is making it difficult for you to understand them, don’t be afraid to politely ask them to slow down too.
4. Keep it simple
In a cross cultural conversation there’s no need to make it harder for both of you by using big words. Just keep it simple. Two syllable words are much easier to understand than three syllable words, and one syllable words are better than two syllable words. Say “Please do this quickly” rather than “Please do this in an efficacious manner.”
5. Practice active listening
Active listening is a very effective strategy for improving cross cultural communication. Restate or summarise what the other person has said, to ensure that you have understood them correctly, and ask frequent questions. This helps build rapport and ensures that important information doesn’t get missed or misunderstood.
6. Take turns to talk
Make the conversation flow more freely by taking it in turns to speak. Make a point and then listen to the other person respond. Particularly when people are speaking English as their second language it’s better to talk to them in short exchanges rather than delivering a long monologue that might be difficult for them to follow.
7. Write things down
If you’re not sure whether the other person has understood you properly, write it down to make sure. This can be particularly helpful when discussing large figures. For example, in the UK we write a billion as 1,000,000,000 but in the USA, it’s written as 1,000,000,000,000.
8. Avoid closed questions
Don’t phrase a question that needs a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. In many cultures it is difficult or embarrassing to answer in the negative, so you will always get a ‘yes’ even if the real answer is ‘no’. Ask open-ended questions that require information as a response instead.
9. Be careful with humour
Many cultures take business very seriously and believe in behaving professionally and following protocol at all times. Consequently they don’t appreciate the use of humour and jokes in a business context. If you do decide to use humour make sure it will be understood and appreciated in the other culture and not cause offence. Be aware that British sarcasm usually has a negative effect abroad.
10. Be supportive
Effective cross cultural communication is about all parties feeling comfortable. In any conversation with a non-native English speaker, treat them with respect, do your best to communicate clearly and give them encouragement when they respond. This will help build their confidence and trust in you.
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Author: Michael P. Hamnett
sity research facilities and researchers ; ( 3 ) enhancing farmer network use of external networks . Moral Values , Research Projects , * Research Universities , Science and Society , Scientific Research , Teacher Education Programs .
Diener, E. & Crandall, R. Ethics in social and behavioral research. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978. Dinges, N. Interdisciplinary in cross–cultural social science research. In M. P. Hamnett & R. Brislin (Eds.), Research in .
Author: Dan Landis
Category: Social Science
Handbook of Intercultural Training, Volume I: Issues in Theory and Design is a compilation of nine essays dealing with a problem central to today’s complex world: “”How can people best live and work with others who come from very different cultural backgrounds?”” The major focus of the nine essays in this book is the experience of living and working for long periods in other cultures. The book also focuses on other types of cross-cultural experiences, such as majority-minority group relations, training and preparation, and integration. There are analyses of possible experiences people may have, such as stress during adjustments. Other authors in this book address the benefits of intercultural action and integration into a country’s educational system. International education is seen to benefit through a greater attention to face-to-face cross-cultural experience. The first seven essays are good descriptions of intercultural behavior and training, while Chapter 8 is an evaluation of cross-cultural training. The last chapter describes the atlas of affective meanings containing 620 concepts from 30 languages/culture communities for use in intercultural training and education. Behavioral and social scientists, trainers and cross-cultural scientists, overseas businessmen, foreign students, diplomats, immigrants, and other people who work in different cultures will find this handbook very helpful.
Interdisciplinary and Cross–Cultural Perspectives Keerty Nakray, Margaret Alston, Kerri Whittenbury. education level, previous research . Researchers should be aware that people may enroll in studies with certain expectations.
Author: Keerty Nakray
Category: Social Science
Research in the humanities and social sciences thrives on critical reflections that unfold with each research project, not only in terms of knowledge created, but in whether chosen methodologies served their purpose. Ethics forms the bulwark of any social science research methodology and it requires continuous engagement and reengagement for the greater advancement of knowledge. Each chapter in this book will draw from the empirical knowledge created through intensive fieldwork and provide an account of ethical questions faced by the contributors, placing them in the context of contemporary debates surrounding the theory and practice of ethics. The chapters have been thematically organized into five sections: Feminist Ethics: Cross-Cultural Reflections and Its Implications for Change; Researching Physical and Sexual Violence in Non-Academic Settings: A Need for Ethical Protocols; Human Agency, Reciprocity, Participation and Activism: Meanings for Social Science Research Ethics; Emotions, Conflict and Dangerous Fields: Issues of “Safety” and Reflective Research; and Social Science Education: Training in Ethics or “Ethical Training” and “Ethical Publicizing.” This inter-disciplinary volume will interest students and researchers in academic and non-academic settings in core disciplines of Anthropology, Sociology, Law, Political Science, International Relations, Geography, or inter-disciplinary degrees in Development Studies, Health Studies, Public Health Policy, Social Policy, Health Policy, Psychology, Peace and Conflict studies, and Gender Studies. The book features a foreword by His Holiness The Dalai Lama.
1 1 1 1 ETHICS AND EXPECTATIONS IN CROSS – CULTURAL SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH Michael P. Hamnett INTRODUCTION are or or Since World War II concern with professional ethics in social science research has grown markedly .
Author: Nobleza C. Asuncion-Landé
The American Psychological Association (APA) code of ethics (2002) is silent on ways to cope with cross–cultural ethical dilemmas, . the impact of globalization on the roles of social scientists has received increasing recognition.
Author: Mark M. Leach
Publisher: Oxford University Press
The need for quality standards and rules of conduct concerning all aspects of the activities of psychology has long been acknowledged. In particular, over the last few years there has been a growing awareness of the need for and the advantage of internationally recognized ethical standards, particularly concerning research and practice and the well-being of individuals and societies. With this need in mind, this volume provides the most comprehensive assembly of facts and visions across the entire field of psychological ethics that one could imagine. The Oxford Handbook of International Psychological Ethics is the state-of-the-art source for information on psychological ethics worldwide, and offers an inclusive international review of contemporary and emerging ethical issues within the profession and science of psychology. There is no comparable book on the market, notwithstanding the importance and timeliness of the topics to be covered. These include: – a concise history of ethical standards of psychology – cutting-edge developments and challenges in international psychological ethics, such as the search for universal ethical standards, ethical issues when working cross-nationally with immigrants and refugees, and ethical responses to security risks – ethical developments and issues within specific geographical regions – research utilizing the new media With its broad scope and perspective informed by a synthesis of international scholarship and practice, this handbook will inform readers from around the world of existing and emerging issues and trends that confront psychological ethics.
“ The Context of Mass Communication Research . ” Paris : UNESCO International Commission for the Study of Communication Problems , No. 78 . Hamnett , Michael . 1980. “ Ethics and Expectations in Cross – Cultural Social Science Research .
Brett Rutledge, World Champion of Public Speaking and Executive Communication Specialist writes about communication
Cultural Differences – The Power Distance Relationship
The final in our series on cross-cultural communication issues looks at the concept of ‘power distance’. Power distance refers to the way in which power is distributed and the extent to which the less powerful accept that power is distributed unequally. Put simply, people in some cultures accept a higher degree of unequally distributed power than do people in other cultures. When in a high power distance culture the relationship between bosses and subordinates is one of dependence. When in a low power distance society the relationship between bosses and subordiantes is one of interdependence.
Australia, for example, is a low power distance country while Asian countries such as Hong Kong are at the high power distance side of the spectrum. People in high distance countries tend to believe that power and authority are facts of life. Both consciously and unconsciously, these cultures teach their members that people are not equal in this world and that everybody has a rightful place, which is clearly marked by countless vertical arrangements. Social hierarchy is prevalent and institutionalises that inequality. Leaders are therefore expected to resolve disputes as well as make all the difficult decisions. Subordinates will simply comply with their leader rather than challenge him or her or try to arrive at their own solutions in dealing with conflict. They seldom challenge their leaders power.
On the other hand, in lower power distance countries there is a preference for consultation and subordinates will quite readily approach and contradict their bosses. The parties will openly work towards resolving any dispute by stating their own points of view. If they cannot come to a satisfactory conclusion, they may choose to involve a mediator. Leaders actually encourage independent thought and contributions to problem solving and expect (within reason) to be challenged.
The bottom line is that if you are coming from a low power distance culture and having to deal with someone in a high power distance culture nothing is going to happen without the boss’s say so. so make sure you are talking to the right person or recognise that the channels that your proposal is going to go through may take a lot longer than you originally anticipated.
Does your client portfolio include customers from abroad or do you expect it to in the future? If so, it’s important to apply cultural awareness to every aspect of your customer experience (CX) strategy, including customer service, advertising, labelling, selling and promoting products. Failing to incorporate the concept of cultural diversity into your CX strategy can cost your business money and lost sales potential.
When analyzing foreign markets, it’s worth considering various cultural aspects, e.g. everyday communication, internet usage, marketing and advertising, ecommerce trust, seasonal sales potential or even color perception.
Communications With International Customers
It should come as no shock that customer experience matters as much to your foreign customers as it does your domestic. To maximize chances of effective communication, you’ll need to accommodate cultural peculiarities. It’s about overcoming the language barrier, but also knowing how to use a language.
Studying cultural differences can save you a lot of awkwardness. In terms of everyday communication and tone of voice, consider this example: Germans prefer a formal communication tone, in contrast with Americans who gravitate towards a more casual approach. Clearly your communications will need to reflect those preferences, with your business approach in Germany being pretty formal and impersonal, e.g. by using the form Sie or Frau/Herr (Ms./Mr.) rather than the more casual greetings commonly used in English-speaking countries.
Cultural Differences and Customers’ Feeling of Security
Consumer perceptions about the safety of sharing sensitive or personal data, such as in the case of online purchases, varies across countries. Ignorance is not bliss: if your customers don’t feel safe entering their personal or payment details, you’ll lose orders.
According to Symantec’s “State of Privacy Report 2015,” on average 57 percent of Europeans feel uneasy about the security of their data. Spaniards expressed the biggest concern: 78 percent of respondents reported feeling insecure in this respect. Germany came second at 62 percent. In contrast, UK-based customers reported feeling relatively comfortable about their data with less than half of the respondents being wary.
Being familiar with such data is important from the CX perspective. For example, knowing these trust issues will mean you may need to make an extra effort with German or Spanish customers. You may need to reassure them in a special way before they try new solutions or press the buy button.
Additionally, consider security and online payment. Credit cards are not always the preferred choice in some countries. For example, a popular payment method in Germany is by invoice. To make your customers feel more secure, research the most popular/preferred payment methods in a given country. This way, you’ll instill trust in your foreign customers. Otherwise, if they see payment methods they’re not particularly familiar with, they may be wary about security.
Details, Exact Numbers and Trust Badges Create Certainty
Consumers in some countries may be more detail- and fact-oriented. For instance, German consumers are generally more careful and misstrauisch (distrustful). Eighty-two percent of Germans reportedly read Terms and Conditions before making an online purchase. They usually need more time and information before taking the leap.
Germans tend to be curious about the legal situation and related regulations (AGBs: Allgemeine Geschäftsbedingungen). When no AGBs are applied on foreign markets, they can find it mind-boggling. Further, Germans can become skeptical about a product if they encounter translation mistakes on the website. They like to judge a website’s trustworthiness by trust badges, frequently used by German ecommerce websites. Germans also love products that come with assurances of quality, for example TÜV-certified.
Thus, you can give your German customers more details and exact numbers to create more certainty. You can also add trust badges to your website and hire a German native speaker to create flawless copy. It’s also recommended that you add an Impressum: a legally mandated statement included in books, magazines, newspapers and websites to state ownership and authorship.
Cultural Differences and Customers’ Perception of Color
Cultural awareness is useful when you choose colors for your website, brand or when your product comes in various colors. People across the globe don’t perceive colors in the same way. In the Netherlands, orange is the national color and associated with the Dutch Royal family. Egypt, on the other hand, associates orange with mourning.
Colors should communicate desired values/emotions and reveal your product attributes. For this reason, if you sell high-end products, in many cultures black would be a better choice than pink as your signature color.
Ninety percent of snap judgements about products can be based on color alone. Choosing the right colors can have an immense impact on increasing your conversion rates. Keep in mind, consumer perceptions of the appropriateness of the color in relation to your product is more important than the color itself.
Cultural Differences, CX Strategy and Local Seasonal Events, Lifestyles and Rules
When selling in different countries, make the most of seasonality, i.e. country-specific, seasonal events and peak sales periods. Consider national holidays, festivals or days, such as Carnival in Germany or Black Friday in the US. These are the times when you can earn internationally even more than during the busy Christmas season.
So if you decide to pursue the German Carnival revelers by selling fancy dress costumers in January, you will need to tweak your sales strategy long before the carnival months arrive. Adjust your product portfolio to focus on costumes and a seasonal marketing promotion.
International marketing is a strategic decision that involves developing a marketing mix strategy based on the characteristics of a potential foreign market. In simpler terms, it is how organizations should design and convey their messages if they want to sell their goods and services in a foreign market. Cultural differences make this process more complicated and should therefore be the starting point of preparing a strategy. Cultural differences in marketing form the fundamentals of the international marketing mix.
Cultural differences in marketing should receive primary attention when selling goods or services internationally, as the cultural environment changes one country to the other. This means that multinational companies must understand the culture of a specific state before selling the products. Here are some significant cultural factors that businesses intending to move to the international stage should consider.
Languages are some of the major cultural differences in marketing that companies ought to understand before they market their products and services in a foreign country. Previously, grave mistakes have occurred during translation, which has led to devastating effects. One of the most memorable embarrassing mistakes in international marketing happened when General Motors was marketing its cars by the brand name ‘Nova,’ which in South American local languages, translated to, ‘it won’t go.’ These mistakes obviously don’t help the company to sell its products. Therefore, companies need to pay attention to language and translations to avoid business failure.
2. Purchasing Power/Pricing
In as much as pricing strategies appears to be economic factors, they are important cultural differences in marketing. It is common knowledge that some cultures have a higher purchasing power than others. For example, people in the United States have a higher purchasing power than those in Africa. This plays a significant role in how you should price your products and services. In addition, it should be taken into consideration that some people have high purchasing power, but tend to hold money rather than spend. Therefore, you have to come up with a strategic marketing plan that will make people exercise their high purchasing capability.
3. Consumption Habits
As a marketer, you are already aware that personalities and cultures combine to shape the consumption behavior of individuals in a particular country or region. Before marketing your products, you need to determine whether individuals in a specific country make individualistic or collective buying decisions. This will help you to formulate a marketing approach that appeals to personality or a strategy that pulls the entire society. You’re also required to understand the psychological and societal factors influencing buying decisions.
Just like in domestic marketing, age and other demographics significantly contribute to cultural differences in marketing. For example, in developing countries, literacy levels among senior citizens, especially those above 60 years is very low. Therefore, you may decide to target your marketing message not directly at this demographic group, especially when selling digital devices. Moreover, you’ve to understand the dominant demographic groups in a country before you can modify your marketing messages. This will help your country to appeal and communicate to the majority rather than the minority.
5. Taste and Preferences
Eating habits are further important cultural differences in marketing that multinational companies need to understand. For a food selling company, it is essential to understand the eating habits of a particular region before marketing its menu. For instance, McDonald’s and other fast-food companies had to start offering vegetable products in India rather than meat products. Likewise, these companies have started to increasingly cater to international tastes, like rice dishes for the Asian market.
Religious beliefs are important cultural differences in marketing that should be considered when selling in foreign markets. They influence how a particular society perceives various products and services. Organizations have to understand the impact of religion and its role in society. For example, in Muslim countries, marketing secular women outfits might be off as the religion in these countries requires women to dress in a modest way, which is highly regulated. Besides, some marketing messages have been at loggerheads with religious groupings after their messages were deemed to be offensive towards a particular religion. Religion is a very critical aspect that companies need to understand before they can start marketing their products at the international stage.
Most of the cultural differences in marketing are restrictive. However, companies should make sure that they fully understand all the cultural factors before they can formulate and roll-out their marketing strategies. Extensive research would help an international company to understand what is good and bad in different countries and regions. Most of the companies that have excelled at the international stage have done so by identifying a product or a service that will be accepted in a particular region.
Where the World of Work and Personal Life Intersects
As businesses continue to grow their operations in different countries, the need to make workplaces more and more diverse has never been so important. Employees from different cultures are bringing divergent thinking and original ideas to their workplaces and together they are changing the face of the global economy. Even though the collective imaginations of people from diverse cultural backgrounds are producing great outcomes for society and the economy, the roadblocks to overcome still existing cultural stereotypes and preconceptions are many.
Culture is the plethora of differences that characterize the world today. According to anthropologist Cristina De Rossi, culture encompasses religion, food, what we wear, how we wear it, our language, marriage, music, what we believe is right or wrong, how we behave with loved ones, and a million other things. These cultural dimensions contribute to an organization’s character and success, however, employee cultural diversity sometimes creates cultural barriers in the workplace.
What are cultural barriers?
Cultural barriers are challenges to cross-cultural communication within an organization. When people from different cultures who might speak different languages, have different cultural beliefs or use different gestures and symbols to communicate, their cultural differences might become barriers to workplace success. This happens because of a lack of cultural awareness, knowledge, and communication.
Here are 5 ways to overcome cultural barriers and embrace cultural difference:
Ensure clear and polite communication
Clear and polite communication reduces the chances of surprises, crises, and confrontation. Both employers and employees should take diversity and cultural difference into account while drafting communication material. This can include:
- using simple words
- using visual methods to communicate results
- avoiding slang words and phrases
Learn about different cultures
Asking polite questions about each other’s cultures and expressing willingness to learn about different cultural backgrounds can foster workplace relationships. It is important to create a culture of inquiry where asking questions is encouraged! Being patient and understanding towards beliefs and norms of different cultures, speaking against discrimination at the workplace, and continuously learning about changing cultures are all an effective way to make workplaces more inclusive.
Work towards accommodating cultural difference
According to Equality Challenge Unit, implicit or unconscious bias happens by our brains making incredibly quick judgments and assessments of people and situations without us realizing. And the only way to accommodate cultural difference is to recognize unconscious bias. An individual can accommodate cultural difference by being sensitive towards different cultures and an organization can accommodate cultural difference by understanding, for example, different religious customs or encouraging cultural celebrations.
Diversity recruiting’s ability to produce creative outcomes has limits within the ability of a workforce to share cultural knowledge. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic of Harvard Business Review writes, “Studies mapping the social networks of organizations have found higher levels of creativity in groups that are more interconnected, particularly when creative and intrapreneurial individuals are a central node [part] in those networks.”
The evidence shows that knowledge sharing and collective contribution produce creative outcomes. Knowledge from different cultural backgrounds and experiences stimulates cultural inclusion and results in innovation. Thus, it is beneficial for both individuals and organizations to make knowledge sharing an important part of their culture.
Employ diversity training
Another way to overcome cultural barriers is to ensure there is an inclusion of people of different cultural backgrounds in the workplace. Diversity training can potentially foster inclusive work culture, encourage teamwork and leadership, create new opportunities, and thereby create a positive work culture. This training will help employees understand and embrace the cultural differences of their coworkers, and coworkers to embrace each other.
Hence, accommodating cultural commonalities and differences is extremely important to overcoming cultural barriers. This is also something to keep in mind while drafting communication material that is sent out to staff and clients.
What is culture?
Culture is a complex and dynamic topic that can be difficult for today’s managers, or anyone, to deal with. But, what do we mean by culture?
There is a wide range of definitions, but it can be understood that culture governs our view in life. It comprises of the shared values, understandings, assumptions, and goals we have learnt from earlier generations, and passed onto succeeding generations. Your culture is formed with a wide range of environmental factors, such as climate, legal systems, religion andÊlanguages. This forms general values, norms and beliefs, which again influences attitudes and individual behaviour.
For example, cultures in very cold climates tend to be more egalitarian than hierarchical. It is because in the past if you did not work together, regardless of age, gender or social status, you wouldn’t be able to survive the cold in the winter months.
Therefore, if you don’t fully understand certain attitudes and behaviours of customers or employees from other countries, it may help to conduct some research to improve your knowledge about the history and current affairs of the country. By learning about other cultures, you are more likely to develop cultural sensitivity, or an ability to understand different perspectives and care about another person’s culture.
Understanding cultural differences
Cultural sensitivity is not something you can acquire overnight. It’s about developing a genuine openness and empathy with other cultures. However, gaining some general cultural knowledge may be a good starting point.
One useful framework for understanding how basic values underlie organisational behaviour is Hofstede’s cultural dimensions. Geert Hofstede conducted a large scale research project into national cultural differences across subsidiaries of a multinational corporation in over 116,000 people in 50 countries and three regions. He identified four cultural dimensions, then later studies added two more:
Individualism and collectivism
Masculinity and femininity
Long vs. short-term orientation (added in 1985)
Indulgence vs. restraint (added in 2010)
Another useful framework to learn about other cultures but in a business context is Trompenaars and Humpden-Turner’s Seven Dimensions Model . Their research focuses on the cultural dimensions of business executives and is based on surveys of 15,000 managers in 28 countries over a ten-year period, representing 47 national cultures. In this research they identify seven value orientations.
These frameworks, arguably, can be applied to many everyday intercultural encounters and provide fairly simple explanation for people’s values and behaviour. For example, you may have wondered why your Greek staff always want very detailed instruction to perform their duties and keep asking questions, rather than making decisions by themselves. If you look at Hofstede’s dimension scores for Greece, their culture scores intermediate (60/100) in power distance and very high (100/100) in uncertainty avoidance scores.
This explains why they may appear to lack self-confidence Ð it is not that they are incapable of making decisions, but they want to do exactly what their superior asks, in the exact way he or she expects.
How does it affect hospitality businesses?
Gaining knowledge of each culture may help you develop cultural sensitivity, but it takes time. However, it improves your awareness of similarities and differences across cultures. When you are aware of this, you might not feel so frustrated with the example of Greek staff mentioned earlier, or threatened when a guest from another country talks to your receptionist in a seemingly aggressive manner Ð they may be expressing themselves normally within their own culture. This perception may help you remain calm and take more personalised approaches in staff supervision or providing customer service that leads to higher satisfaction for both employee and customer.
Accepting different behaviours can also result in fairness as part of the HR process, helping you to select the best candidates or evaluate each employee’s performance with less biased views. But, how exactly can we achieve it, as well as the benefits discussed in my previous article? In the next article, I will discuss some points to be considered within the HR process.
By Yukari Iguchi
Yukari Iguchi is the Academic Lead, Hospitality and Leisure at the University of Derby Online Learning (UDOL) . Yukari has worked in various sectors within the hospitality industry, including hotels, restaurants, bars and theme parks in Japan, Switzerland and the UK. Since 2012 Yukari joined UDOL to share her knowledge of the hospitality sector with others. During her academic career Yukari also performed a range of roles including Programme Leader for undergraduate hospitality programmes, International Student Coordinator, International Collaborative Project Manager, and Online and Distance Learning Coordinator. Yukari is interested in the skills shortage issues within the hospitality industry and how educational institutions can make contributions to improve the situation through providing online learning opportunities. She also has keen interests in cultural diversity in both the hospitality industry and educational context, and has a passion on supporting international students within the UK Higher Education. For more information about the University of Derby Online Learning, go to www.derby.ac.uk/online/news/udol-notes/editors.
Dressing to Impress, Not Offend, While Abroad
Be sure to pack an aloha shirt if you are visiting Hawaii for work!
Every culture has norms when it comes to what people should wear at work. Recognizing them can mean the difference between success and failure, both personally and professionally.
As the saying goes, we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover – but we often do when it comes to clothing. In fact, many people will develop a strong first impression about your professionalism, business acumen, and even your intelligence, based on what you wear.
In this article, we’ll discuss why it is so important to be aware of these cultural expectations, and consider some of the main clothing faux pas to avoid when working around the world.
The Importance of Cultural Awareness
You may wonder why you need to learn cross-cultural etiquette if you don’t currently work with people from different countries. But it’s becoming more important as organizations increasingly do their business globally.
Whether you manage a global team, have ethnically diverse team members, or work with clients, suppliers or partners from different countries, you’re almost certain to come into contact with people from other cultures. And it’s important to treat each person with respect, so that you don’t damage your business relationships.
When you understand how people do business in other countries, you’re more likely to make a positive impression. You’ll increase the chances of doors opening to new opportunities and friendships, and, in the process, you and your organization are more likely to achieve your goals.
Dress Etiquette Around the World
Many cultures have specific expectations when it comes to business attire. Below, we discuss a number of things you should consider before you go abroad (although you should also do your own research into the country and the organization you’re visiting beforehand).
Formal Business Wear
Conservative business wear remains the norm in many countries, such as Argentina, Egypt and Brazil, where suits are typically worn by men and women (although, in some places, women tend to wear skirts rather than pantsuits).
And, in continental European countries like Italy and Spain, the quality and taste of your formal business wear can create a strong first impression. Exceptional tailoring and custom-made suits and shirts (instead of off-the-rack clothing) are particularly likely to impress.
If you dress too casually in certain cultures, such as the United Arab Emirates, your hosts may consider you impolite. So, if you’re unsure about what to wear, your safest bet is to dress conservatively. Men should opt for suits, and women should wear suits, blouses and suit jackets, and skirts or dresses (with hemlines at an appropriate height).
In general, stay away from unusual prints and bright colors, and choose darker, more subdued hues like gray, navy blue, brown, or black.
The best way to decide what to wear is to dress similarly to your co-workers in the country. If you have any questions, it’s always best to ask politely than to choose unwisely and regret it later.
Business casual clothing – where people wear shirts and pants, or dresses and skirts, instead of suits and ties – is common in some cultures. For example, Israeli dress is comparatively casual: you’ll see fewer jackets and ties, and more button-down shirts and khaki pants.
Company culture also tends to influence what people wear at work. In professions such as banking, the norm remains conservative wherever you are. However, other industries – especially creative ones – are more relaxed. For example, in the United Kingdom and United States, start-ups are often more casual, and only senior executives will dress in suits.
The opposite of this is true in the Netherlands, where the egalitarian culture means that those in positions of power in certain industries typically make an effort to “fit in” by dressing like everyone else.
Some organizations in countries such as South Africa allow people to leave their jackets and ties at home in the summer. However, even in Australia, where the temperature regularly soars, it is typically not appropriate to wear sandals at a work or business function. In Spain, it is not unusual for men and women to wear dark suits all year round, even in the height of summer!
The amount of skin that women show is a contentious issue in some cultures so, if in doubt, err on the side of caution. For example, in India, Morocco and China, women should avoid tight-fitting clothes, and they should make sure that skirts cover their knees and that their necklines are high.
In Saudi Arabia, women should only show skin on their face, hands and feet. All women (foreign and local) must also wear a black cloak, called an abaya, and a headscarf in public.
Jewelry and Accessories
In some countries, such as China, people wear jewelry and other accessories sparingly. Expensive jewelry is even frowned upon or considered too showy in countries like Sweden, where tastes are typically more reserved.
In India, however, women often accessorize with scarves and earrings. And cuff-links and watches are considered a sign of wealth and status in countries like Italy and Spain.
While it is often safer to wear darker colors in more conservative countries, you can be bolder in others. If you go to Hawaii, for instance, be sure to pack an aloha shirt. Sometimes called Hawaiian shirts, they have short sleeves, collars and bright, festive prints. Try to wear one to a business meeting on the mainland U.S., however, and you’d be better off going to a bar than to the office!
You should be aware that, in some cultures, different colors symbolize different things. For example, red represents luck in China and, in Thailand, many people wear yellow shirts as an informal homage to their king, especially on Mondays – the day of his birth. With this in mind, you might choose to wear these colors during your visit to make a favorable impression.
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WHAT EYES CAN’T SEE, LIES WITHIN THE MIND
Socio- Cultural Psychology
The socio-cultural psychology examines the influences of social and cultural environments on behavior. Socioculturalists argue that understanding a person’s behavior requires knowing about the cultural context in which the behavior occurs (Matsumoto & Juang, 2013). (Culture refers to the shared knowledge, practices, and attitudes of groups of people and can include language, customs, and beliefs about what behavior is appropriate and inappropriate.)
The sociocultural approach often includes cross-cultural research, meaning research that compares individuals in various cultures to see how they differ on important psychological attributes. Cross-cultural research is important for testing the assumption that findings for one culture also generalize to other cultural contexts, and as such it allows psychologists to test for the possibility that some characteristics are universal (Hofmann & Hinton, 2014).
The sociocultural approach provides researchers and psychologists with a more informed view and understanding of the motivations which cause a person to behave in a particular way. Instead of relying on biological factors alone, the approach promises to paint a more vivid picture of the human mind through a wider understanding of how we acquire cognitive abilities at an early age.
A pioneer of the sociocultural approach was the Soviet psychologist Lev Semyonovich Vygotsky (1896-1934), who became interested in developmental psychology and helped to change the face of the field.One key element of Vygotsky’s sociocultural approach is his idea of a Zone of Proximal Development . Commonly abbreviated as ZPD, the Zone of Proximal Development is a way to gauge a child’s ability to learn and grow. Vygotsky believed that the ZPD was a far better way to gauge. A child’s intelligence than through the standard academic testing, which can often fail to account for cultural differences with regards to learning. Vygotsky claims that there are three cultural tools which children use to inform their cognitive abilities.
Politics, cultural ethics, gender,values, beliefs, ethnicity, socioeconomic status influence our behavior in society and interactions in social groups.
It also includes interpersonal and intrapersonal theory which we will see in a short video below:
Assumptions of Socio- Cultural Psychology
- All behavior occurs in a social context, even when nobody else is physically present
- A major influence on people’s behavior, thought processes and emotions are other people and the society they have created.
- Human’s ability to recall information is a result of our understanding of complex language.
- How we communicate, understand, relate and cope with one another is partially based on this theory. Our spiritual, mental, physical, emotional, physiological being are all influenced by sociocultural perspective theory.
- Examines how culture and politics effect our behavior.
Impacts on Science and Society:
- Gender influences our behavior
- Job’s opportunities to influence people’s goals and ambition.
- It is the study of rules, roles, groups, relationships, cultural norms, values and expectations.
- This approach helps us understand how behaviour can be influenced by other people, and the situation they find themselves in.
- It helps us understand that people’s behaviour may change if their situation changes.
- It helps us understand extreme human behaviours; this is good because if we can understand the causes of behaviour (such as power abuse by prison guards, SPE) then we can take steps to prevent it.
- The Social Approach underestimates the influence of individual differences in behaviour – it doesn’t explain why some people differ from the norm expected in any given social situation.
- The study doesn’t investigate why certain individuals were able to disobey an authority figure.
- Another weakness of this approacch is that in order to obtain valid results, social research is often conducted without the participant’s knowledge.
- It is often criticised for being ethnocentric, meaning that research from this approach may not generalise across cultures.
Assume one of your top values is Accountability. When your decisions and behaviors support this value, there is a sense of satisfaction, peace, and fulfillment. For example, saying to your boss, “The project we discussed is now complete, and within the promised timeframe.”
But what happens when you feel forced to make a decision or act in a way that causes you to sacrifice this value? You likely feel uneasy and uncomfortable. For example, saying to your boss, “Well, looks like we’re going to be late on the project we discussed.” It doesn’t matter how or why it happened. The outcome is still an unpleasant experience.
When this happens, you likely experience a values conflict. Your decisions and behaviors did not support your top value.
Now imagine that your top values are Excellence and Accountability, in that order. If a quality issue occurred that caused a delay in meeting a promised deadline, there might be no values conflict (or much less of one). When you’re demonstrating support for a top value (i.e. Excellence), it’s feels acceptable to sacrifice a secondary value (i.e. Accountability).
This is called a values trade-off and confirms the importance of rank-ordering your top values. By prioritizing your values, it helps you make better decisions, and minimizes that unpleasant experience when one value must be sacrificed over another.
The same is true in organizations. And no matter what the core values are, or their priority order, there will be conflict.
Healthy Conflict vs. Unhealthy Conflict
Many organizations promote healthy conflict amongst employees. This is the willingness to disagree – even passionately when necessary – around important issues and decisions that must be made. It’s about the pursuit of truth and the search for the best possible answers. Most organizational behavioral experts and leadership consultants agree that this is healthy conflict, which only happens when there is a high degree of trust between employees.
In such cases, it’s very beneficial to have clearly defined core values. This helps employees work through healthy conflict using the core values as a conflict resolution tool.
Unfortunately for many employees, there’s a lot of unhealthy conflict where they work. A telltale sign of unhealthy conflict is when the discussion is people-centric instead of problem-centric. In such cases it tends to get personal and nasty very quickly. The reason for such unhealthy conflict is common, and avoidable: blaming others for our own problems.
This form of conflict is the reason most people demonstrate a fear of conflict. In addition, the consequences for unhealthy conflict can be severe, from dis-engaged employees to lack of commitment to reduced productivity.
So what can you to about it?
4 Ways to Resolve a Conflict
There are four viable options to resolve any kind of conflict, including a values conflict:
- Ignore it. Sometimes a conflict is so small, it’s almost irrelevant. Any attempt to address it is like making a mountain out of a molehill. In such cases, the best solution is to just ignore it. For example, a shipment arrives 20 minutes later than you promised, but no one seems concerned or makes any fuss about it. Just ignore it.
- Address it. Oft times conflicts can be resolved by simply addressing them directly. In an organization, a values conflict might arise if decisions are made or actions taken that result in compromising a stated value. Having a meaningful and respectful discussion with others impacted may be the simplest way to resolve it. For example: sincerely apologizing for missing a promised delivery date, explaining the steps taken to fix the situation, and the plan to prevent it from happening again.
- Negotiate around it. Sometimes a conflict is more complicated than we initially thought or involves more parties than originally considered. Ideally this is a healthy conflict where you’re just following the process to find the best solution to resolve a gnarly problem, even if the discussion with others is heated at times. What matters most is to stay focused on the problem, not the people involved. For example, the inclusion of a new product feature requested by customers requires sacrificing the long-standing values of simplicity and ease-of-use, that have differentiated the company for years. Should this particular customer request be ignored? Or is it time for the company to shift the priority of differentiating values? There are no easy answers here. It requires the involvement of all stakeholders. But working together, creative solutions can be uncovered that open up new possibilities.
- Mediate through it. There are times a conflict turns out to be quite serious and requires more drastic action. Sometimes there are significant financial implications. Other times it may be bruised egos getting in the way (including our own). Resolving such conflict requires a strong mediator: to listen well, ask thoughtful questions, be able to influence others to compromise, and find the best solution that works for everyone. For example, poor quality output, missed deadlines, low morale, and unhappy customers are a clear indication there are bigger issues at stake. Someone external clearly needs to be brought in to identify the real issues and push for real change.
There are also two other popular ways to deal with conflict, neither of which is useful or effective.
- Deny it. The fear of conflict causes many people to avoid dealing with it – ever. Instead they hope if they continue denying it, it will eventually just go away. Unfortunately, this behavior tends to make things worse, allowing it to become a bigger problem than it was originally.
- Fight it. The other side of fear of conflict is the idea if you attack it you can kill it. But conflict can’t be simply stamped out (that’s called bullying). Even when we think a conflict is dead, issues remain, waiting to be addressed.
What about a values conflict between your personal values and your company’s values? This is a serious and important issue that can’t be addressed in this article (without making it into a book!). However, the short answer is to ask yourself this question: “Am I in an environment that provides me the opportunity to do my best work, or do I need to plan for a change?”
Bottom line: There are both healthy and unhealthy conflicts. Well-defined core values are a useful tool for employees to work through healthy conflicts. Regardless of the type of conflict, there are effective ways to resolve them.
In This Article
Gender Roles in Society
The downside of these two names (masculine and feminine) is that there usually is an immediate association with gender.
In the original research work of Geert Hofstede, the intention was never there to trigger a strong association with gender-related issues in society.
But evidently, these associations are there and for a bigger part, they are not related.
So when it comes to culture and gender the words “masculinity” and “femininity” do not point to gender differences.
Culture and Gender Roles in Society
The cultural dimension Masculinity – Femininity says something about the expected behavior of men and women in any given society.
To simplify it: in high-scoring cultures, there seems to be relatively little role overlap; men are supposed to provide for their families, be the head of the family, and do manly tasks like taking the garbage out.
While in more feminine societies, there is more role overlap; here it is OK if a woman earns more than a man and the “stay at home dad” is more accepted than in masculine societies.
So when it comes to culture and gender this would be the closest link to gender differences and gender roles in society.
Take a look at the image below. This picture was taken during one of my trips to the Middle East (or read this article specifically about Dubai). A sign like that would be impossible in a feminine country like Sweden, for instance.
What are the Gender Roles in Society Within one Culture?
In any country in the world, you will find so-called IntrA-cultural differences; differences within one country, say the American East Coast and the American West Coast. Or the differences between the North and the South of Spain.
Differences within one country are called IntrA-cultural differences.
Differences between countries are called IntER-cultural differences.
There are definitely differences in gender roles within one country. In other words, American women will be less masculine than their male countrymen.
The same will be true for the most feminine country in the world, Sweden; also there will men be more masculine than women.
A clear example is the following “Word Cloud“, which illustrates the use of words in Social Media of English-speaking men and women.
What you can clearly see is that English-speaking men use more forceful language than English-speaking women.
However, when you compare English-speaking women with Swedish women, you will still see that there is a big significant difference is between those two countries/groups when you look at the scores of these countries on this masculinity and femininity dimension.
Published On: July 15, 2020
Instant communications and an ever-expanding internet have made the world a much smaller place, presenting both barriers and opportunities as we interact across borders with people of different cultures.
In this new, complex world of communication, cultural differences stand out as one of our biggest challenges. Different cultures affect how individuals participate in groups and how they work within communities.
New Challenges With the Way We Communicate
Values often conflict when people of different cultures work together. Opportunities for misunderstanding are ripe. According to a More Perfect Union on PBS, there are certain patterns of differences that lead to cross-cultural communication difficulties:
Different styles of communicating. Language use varies between cultures. Words and phrases are used in different ways. For example, “yes” may mean “maybe” or even “definitely” even in different English-speaking countries. Non-verbal communication is also important and may include anything from gestures and facial expressions to sense of time, personal distance and even seating arrangements.
Different Attitudes Regarding Conflict. Conflict is considered positive in some countries, while people in others seek to avoid it. Although conflict is not usually desired in the U.S., people here are encouraged to deal directly with conflicts that arise. In many Eastern countries, differences are best worked out in private.
Completing tasks in different ways. Cultural differences account for how people move to complete tasks. Reasons include different resource availability, different notions of time, and different ideas of how relationship-building and task-oriented work should fit together. For example, Asian and Hispanic cultures focus on team dynamics at the outset of a project and shift focus to the end goal as the project moves forward, while European-Americans focus first on the task, leaving relationships to develop along the way.
Differences in decision-making. In the U.S., decisions are frequently delegated to a subordinate. In many Southern European and Latin American countries, holding decision-making responsibilities to oneself is valued. In a group situation, majority rule tends to work in the U.S., while consensus is the preference in Japan.
Differences in attitudes toward disclosure. Expressing emotions, reasons behind a conflict or personal information may be taboo in some cultures. Questions that may be natural to you can be intrusive to someone from a different culture. This needs to be considered before you can get a good bearing of the views and goals of the people you work with.
Different approaches to knowing. Different cultures have different ideas when it comes to gaining knowledge. Europeans consider information gained through counting and measuring more valuable than other means. Some African cultures rely on knowledge gained through symbolic imagery, while some Asian cultures emphasize the validity of knowledge gained through transcendence.
Cross-Cultural Communication Is Challenging
The six patterns of cultural difference can help you understand people who are different from you. When getting down to the nuts and bolts in practical situations, however, MindTools suggests learning the basics about the culture and language of the people you work with.
The website also offered the following tips:
- Understand that a person’s behaviors and reactions are often culturally driven, and while they may be different than yours, they are still appropriate.
- Accept the different languages, different religions and other cultural differences of team members.
- Consider special needs of team members such as different holidays and different hours of operations.
- Ask questions if you are unsure of cultural differences.
- Show the way by being courteous to ensure team members follow a path of understanding and acceptance.
The need to work across different cultures is almost a given in society today, especially for those working in different fields of communication. That is why the online programs for the Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Communication and Bachelor of Science (BS) in Communication at the University of Houston-Victoria prepare students for a cross-cultural world with the course Intercultural Communication as part of the curriculum. The course focuses on theories and research on how people of different cultures communicate, cultural factors that influence communication styles, and the possible conflicts caused by these differences.
Besides cultural communication, these online degree programs are designed to develop superior writing, speaking, desktop publishing and intercultural communication skills needed in today’s global workforce.