Managing Cross-Cultural Differences
Hopes and Fears3
Identifying the Belief Systems to Spot Blocks to Communication
Published at Honolulu Community Center
to accept another culture's world view; "my way is the best."
Differential treatment of an individual due to
minority status; actual and perceived; e.g., "we just aren't
equipped to serve people like that."
Generalizing about a person while ignoring presence of individual
difference; e.g., "she's like that because she's Asian – all Asians
Differences are ignored and one proceeds as
though differences did not exist; e.g., "there's no need to worry
about a person's culture – if you're a sensitive teacher, you do
Belief that everyone should conform to the majority; e.g., "we know
what's best for you, if you don't like it you can go elsewhere."
12 Tips for Global
Learn something about the country,
local customs, and
cultural sensitivities to avoid making faux pas while
Express yourself carefully.
Accents, idioms, and business jargon may be unfamiliar...
Humorous Business Plan:
"I like to talk with people who
express my thoughts clearly."
Communication Management Skills:
"Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and
he will tell you the truth."
"Some read to think, these are rare; some to write,
these are common; and some read to talk, and these form the great majority."
– Charles Caleb Colton...
Managing Intercultural Differences
You cannot treat everybody the same regardless
of culture without adverse consequences. In Asia, simple gestures that would
be benign or complementary in one country could be a gross insult in another
country. Acts that US citizens perform every day and phrases that they
use all the time with each other would be offensive and judged negatively in
many of the Asian countries...
Case in Point
moved into Asia, people told them that their Western concept wouldn't work
there. "But rather than tailoring the strategy to fit the culture, we said,
" We think our direct model will work cross-culturally. And we're willing to
take the risk," writes
Michael Dell1, Chairman and CEO of the Dell Computer
"To be sure we do some localization," he
continues. You obviously can't sell English-language computers in China. And
from a cultural perspective, customers in other countries are different. We
learned, for example, that some Germans aren't comfortable telephoning in a
response to an advertisement; they find it too forward. They will, however,
respond to an ad that features a fax number. They'll send in a fax, asking
for more information, and will provide their name and phone number so that a
Dell representative can call them. The conversation that ensues is almost
exactly the same as that which would have occurred if the German customer
had made the call himself. It was a slight modification that allowed us to
adapt to cultural differences without altering our
Case in Point
Global Private Banking Centre (GPBC),
Credit Swiss Private Banking (CSPB) Copernicus
project team developed the Global Private Banking Centre (GPBC), Singapore.2
The project team comprised 130 individuals with 20 different nationalities.
Generally, the multicultural mix of the project was not an issue, because
all members were professionals who fit into the culture of the project.
were visible when differences of opinion manifested themselves. For
instance, members were expected to be forthright in giving their views on
projects and to speak their minds. However, a newly joined IT expert who was
Chinese never expressed a candid opinion that a concept was not worth
pursuing at the team meetings, but he would unilaterally decide not to work
on the concept if he was convinced that it was not going to work. Initially
his behavior was seen as disloyal, almost hostile. He was asked why he
didn't publicly voice his aversions to specific concepts when they came up
for discussion at the
meetings. After he explained his rationale, it became apparent that his
behavior was influenced by traditional Chinese values. Traditionally, the
Chinese do not like to publicly criticize a colleague. They want to ensure
that the person being criticized does not lose face.
Humorous Tips from Men
Rules for Women
If something we said can be interpreted two ways, and one of
the ways makes you sad or angry, we meant the other one.
Anything we said 6 months ago is inadmissible in an argument. In
fact, all comments become null and void after 7 days...