In this new series of posts, I will explain where the main differences are when it comes to culture. It is based on research in cultural differences and focuses on our relationships and how they differ in various cultures.
Research has categorised the interactions we have with everything around us into four main categories: others, activities, time and environment.
Most of us will have trouble with one of them at a time at some point in our life. You may have problems with a relationship. You may be doing things you do not like and want to change, or you may feel overwhelmed with not enough time in your hands. You may feel disconnected from the world around you.
In contrast, when you are an expat, you are confronted with drastic changes in all these four areas. No wonder the transition is so difficult. Being in a different culture requires to adapt all interactions at the same time.
In these posts, I will discuss the different components of each category so that you understand what they are and how you can use them to perform better in a different culture.
Cultures and people differ widely on how they relate to the four categories of others, activities, time and environment. For instance, when communicating, directness, formality or the use of non verbal communication will be different. People will have different relationships with the past, present and future. They will see time differently, more sequential or more cyclical. Their relationship with nature can be more about control, harmony or humility. Cultures will be more individualistic or group oriented.
These are examples of traits on which cultures will differ. In the following posts, I will discuss the main categorisation of cultural differences. I will explain for each what it means and how it leads to misunderstanding and inadequacy when people are not aware of each other’s culture and are not able to adapt and integrate, leverage components of other cultures they interact with.
Each aspect of cultural differences is not a discrete entity. We are not one or the other. We are somewhere on a continuum between the two extremes. We also have flexibility to move along the continuum. It is this degree of flexibility that will determine abilities to adapt, integrate and leverage cultural differences.
If at any moment, you personally relate to the inadequacies I describe, contact me. You may be in a state of culture shock, preventing you from performing at your best professionally and personally. My specialty is to help people in such situations.