by: Richard cook on
Some of our videos give you examples of culture clashes, where people from different cultures have a shock when they experience different ways of doing or saying things.
This can be very surprising and unexpected - we find it difficult to see the values and assumptions underlying those behaviours.
Basically, culture clashes occur when we judge the behaviour of a person from another culture using our own values. For example, a British approach to time may be that there is never enough and so we use it carefully and make sure we don't waste it. Another culture may see time as something they don't need to control so strictly and see a flexible response to things as more useful. These two different approaches can quickly lead to clashes in a business setting.
So what's the first step towards managing this better? Well, you can either choose to live the life of a recluse and avoid all contact with other people who are different to you OR you can look at raising awareness of your own culture, such as what values you have around things like time management and so on. By understanding your own preferences, you will be better prepared when you meet different ways of doing things. Also, keep an open mind, people have reasons to act the way they do -- find out what it is and find a way to work with it.
Check these articels on culture and business: http://www.global-excellence.com/articles.php
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"As a result of the training we are now able to understand the meeting behaviour of our Swedish colleagues much better. We now know why it takes longer for them to make decisions than their Dutch counterpart, something than caused muchfrustration in the past."
Annelies Walta, Human Resource Manager
Volvo Car Operations