NEWS AND EVENTS

Understanding the other is a good way to stay calm in the cross-cultural minefield

Understanding the other is a good way to stay calm in the cross-cultural minefield
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When working in a multinational environment, it is sometimes hard to understand the cultural code of others. In such situations, the easiest way is to blame the other that they are not acting adequate. We are working with people from India to the UK so we have learned that this is not how communication works. Instead of posing the question What’s wrong with you?, try with the Hall’s theory for low-context and high-context cultures. High-context cultures emphasise interpersonal relations, non-verbal language, communication hierarchy and implied messages. It is the receipt who is responsible to extract the meaning. Time is polychronic, meaning that multiple tasks could be conducted simultaneously. Examples are Japan, Korea and UAE. On the other hand, low-context cultures people tend to appreciate words more and communication is straightforward. Such societies are monochronic, i.e. task-oriented. This is why if you are an English man, please don’t blame your Korean colleague when a Skype conference call is interrupted by a small talk with a family member – this is normal for the Korean society. Also, mind the jokes as your words could hurt someone from a high-text culture. To sum up, it is always more meaningful to ask What’s wrong with me?, or just to have a cup of tea, instead of being annoyed.




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