Working between cultures

When people from different cultures have or want to cooperate, it is almost a given: Misunderstandings, frustrations, them and us…. Recognisable? Even if you do not wat to walk this way, be assured at least some frustration with cross your path.

Our cultural background determines our values and aspects like time or how we define ourselves. It is formed based on the culture we grow up in during the first 12 years of our lives. Being borne a German, I will always get nervous if something does not happen in time. But time can be seen very different in other cultures. In Africa, executing a task will take as much time as it needs. As simple as that. In our western society, we plan upfront how much time something takes and we will be frustrated if we cannot do or discuss everything we hoped for. None of these approaches is better than another, they are simply different.

You could argus the same about truth. Is there absolute truth or right or rong? Again it is some of the western societies who believe it, while there might also be multiple truths or truth might even be regarded as dangerous.

If you want to learn more about your own culture, I would recommend Richard D. Lewis, When cultures collide but also “De corporate tribe” van Danielle Braun en Jitske Kramer.

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