The world is full of confrontations between people, groups and nations who think, feel and act differently. At the same time, these people, you and I, groups and nations; we are exposed to common problems that demand cooperation for solution. Economic, environmental, natural, technological and political developments or problems do not stop at national or regional borders. Coping with the threats of volatile currencies, an EU crisis, organized crime, poverty, terrorism, floods, pollution, AIDS, nuclear warfare threats and so on, demands cooperation from leaders of many countries. Jintao, Merkel, Zarkozy, Obama, Patil and Medvedev and their groups of followers, their ways of thinking, how they feel, what they value and how they act: How to deal with all these differences? How are we supposed to ever find mutual understanding on a global level?
What I value as respectful, as important and essential in business relations is most likely not the same values my Russian or Chinese colleague hold. I am programmed to value what the people who have raised me and the people I have grown up with see as important and valuable. If I would have been born in the Middle East or in South-America I would have a mindset today completely different of the one I have. I see myself as a “European” thinker, or, more correctly, “Northern-European”. This is where I live and where I feel accepted, my mindset and perception is common and m neighbours and friends think, feel and act alike. Of course there are varieties among us, but in general we can divide perception and values into geographical areas.
I call it mental programming. The sources of one´s mental programs lie within the social environments in which one grew up and collected one´s life experience. The programming starts within one´s family. Further the neighbourhood, the school, the youth groups, the student environment, the work place and the living community affects our programming. I guess a more customary term for such mental programming is CULTURE. I have read that in the study of social anthropology “culture” is a catchword for all patterns of thinking, feeling and acting. I refer not only to the activities supposed to refine the mind, but also ordinary activities and habits – such as eating, greeting, showing or not showing feelings, keeping a certain physical distance from others, making love or as simple as it may sound; the maintenance of body hygiene. Culture consists of the unwritten rules of the social game. Culture is learned. It derives from one´s social environment and not our genes. Human nature and our individual personalities are other aspects – human nature being a universal level inherited in our genes. Because we all feel anger, joy, sadness, shame... However, how we express these feelings and how we obtain these are closely linked to our culture. The personality on the other hand is unique. Partly inherited, partly learned.
...and currently a topic I work with every day. This time I
am confronted with these exciting differences in a business situation and not on
a personal level. I have friends with all over the world and I have different
ways to act and communicate with my friends. Nevertheless, I love and respect
them all alike. In international business - cultural differences are challenging and a topic that leaders and employees have to cope with. Resistance? Not a solution.
I try to understand, I try to communicate cross-cultural.How to shape a sentence so that the receiver perceives the message I wish to communicate?
It is challenging and from time to time frustrating.
cultures or people involved in this specific case are mainly Northern-Europeans, nevertheless the
perception of certain actions of the past are very different.
I hope the communication flow will contribute to clarification and not confusion – as it previously has been proved was the case.
Challenging challenging but very very interesting. More to come..
Vagablond – out&about