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Culture and cultural differences http://czechkid.eu/si1140.


What are the dialogues "Ludo", " ou!re late again", ""#change, ugh" and "$othing!s Czech here " a%out&

All of these dialogues are small examples of situations in which a person can come up against cultural differences. At the same time, we must remember that cultural differences do not only occur between people coming from different countries, but also between people with different cultures all within the same country (Pavla and her rightwing tendencies, intellectual Magda, and Ali with his football will encounter cultural differences in the same way as Jami or uong will!. "n these dialogues, we attempt to loo# in more detail at how culture influences us, how we can recognise cultural differences, and how we can deal with them.

Co 'e...&

Cultural differences and their manifestations: $ultural differences can generally relate to three levels of culture (creations, methods, and models of conduct and behaviour, ideals and values!, specifically their creations, institutions, communication, lifestyle, customs, rituals, symbols, norms, values and conditions. $ultural differences must always be %udged within the framewor# of a comparison of two specific cultures, since the way one culture differs from a second is not necessarily the way it differs from a third. &he terms are relative. $ultures may differ in several aspects, and in others can be very similar. $ultural differences can manifest themselves thusly' - both cultures find different ways of doing things, e.g. communicating ( they create their own separate languages, - the same way of behaving is applied to different causes and motives in both cultures (in certain countries, a smile is perceived as a sign of a good mood, while in others of a bad mood) in some countries, loo#ing someone straight in the eye is the courteous thing to do, while in others it is highly discourteous) in some places the swasti#a is a symbol of fascism, in others of luc#!, - in both cultures different ways of behaving have the same cause and motives (when people want to eat, some use chopstic#s, others cutlery, and others their hands) when they want to negotiate something with someone, some feel a need to get to #now the other person over time, while others get straight to the point at the very first meeting) when they want to show their pleasure at a gift they have been given, some will immediately give the gift to someone else, while others will #eep it for themselves!. "n certain situations, cultural differences can prevent effective communication and mutual understanding between two cultures' - when someone has not learned a foreign language, it is difficult to communicate with someone from another culture, - when someone does not recognise different ways of behaving and the different causes and motives of conduct in a given culture, they find it difficult to understand the people of this culture.

Causes of cultural differences: Most people grow up in a certain restricted environment (their natural environment, their family, town, country, etc.!. &he fact that a person reacts to their specific natural environment means they create specific daily habits, stereotypes, methods of satisfying their re*uirements, etc. ome people get up at five in the morning and go and water the rice crop, while others rise at nine and travel by tram to wor#. A person thus adapts to the environment, nature and society around them. "n time, each society creates other methods for passing their cultural inheritance on to their children (or new members, e.g. foreigners!, tried and tested methods of conduct in the environment and society in *uestion. +e call such processes a family upbringing, school training, socialisation, acculturation and globalisation. &he family passes on to the child the basic emotional and #nowledge potential, school offers them models of behaviour and the re*uisite #nowledge and s#ills to live in society. ,pbringing and other processes lead to the socialisation of the individual, while acculturation enables them to accept and understand the customs and norms of the society in *uestion. -lobalisation can also be understood in this light) it operates on the individual in such a way that they are able to live within their global environment. +hen a person grows up in the environment of a single culture (learns to live in the local natural conditions, are brought up by their family and go to the local school, have experience with the local society, culture! they undergo a very intensive process of personality development. .owever, what they learn under specific conditions does not have to wor# under the conditions of another culture. &his is why very often a person who has decided to travel to another country becomes a /small child0 again in that country, who can1t spea# the language (has not learned it and will never spea# it as their native tongue!, who hasn1t learned how to behave (is used to other norms of polite conduct which can differ in various cultures!, and who lac#s the re*uisite s#ills and #nowledge (is used to catching fish, but has to travel to wor# by tram in the foreign country!, etc. (erception of cultural differences: +e can perceive certain manifestations of cultural differences immediately (traditional costumes, special %ewellery!, while some we only perceive when a person starts spea#ing a different language, or when we hear their opinions and values, customs, etc. +e should more fre*uently realise that people of various cultures do not have to have different fol# costumes and a language, but rather an entire legal system, educational system, life values, experience, etc. "f two members of different cultures meet, they may well be oblivious to their differences and fail to perceive them, so they are incapable of reacting to them, and do not #now how to overcome them. And so we might spea# for half an hour to a Polish person who loo#s li#e us but doesn1t #now $2ech. And we might feel sorry for someone because they don1t have money, while they themselves are proud of surviving without money. +hen a $hinese person sees a cross, they read the figure 34) when a $2ech sees a cross, they might thin# of first aid, the wiss flag, etc. +e can usually only understand cultural differences when we suddenly find ourselves in the environment of another culture. "t seems obvious to us at home that you eat with cutlery and that you don1t eat with your mouth open. 5ut this does not have to be the case

in other cultures, where food is eaten with one1s hands and everything is discussed and resolved over food ( what has been going on, what has to be organised, how to conclude a contract, etc. 6nly when we are willing and able to loo# at our own (for us natural! culture as something which is not natural or better, are we able to better and more appropriately understand other cultures, with their own customs and values which have come into being under completely different conditions. )esults of cultural differences: $ultural differences (as in the case of all other differences between people! may give rise to misunderstandings and conflicts of the types already referred to. "t is often the case that cultural differences are used as the pretext for starting a war, discrimination against certain nationalities and cultural groups, etc. "n such a case, there is a combination of misunderstanding between cultures and a clear political, ideological or economic motive to the conflict. &he results of cultural differences can be many and various in normal life, ranging from misunderstandings which can be laughed away, to threats to the very existence of a person.


$ulture is a multi-layered concept which also has a great many definitions. "n this text, we shall focus on the form of culture which we meet in everyday life, and attempt to chart this complex phenomenon in order to be able to deal with it more easily. &o aid us in this endeavour, we shall ta#e a combination of models of culture by .ofstede and &rompenaars. 5oth scientists agree that when people from different cultures meet, they come up against differences on many different levels which they then more or less cope with. +,m%ols and rituals are what we see on first glance or at a brief meeting. &his includes clothes, food and habits revolving around food, methods of greeting, ways to behave when visiting someone (do " ta#e off my shoes, will there be firm seating around the dinner table, etc.!. &hese are situations which can confuse us. .owever, they are basically easily resolved, and it is not too difficult to communicate about them. -eroes represent the second, deeper level, which we discover during conversation, for instance. +hom do " ta#e as my model in the best sense of the word7 +hich behaviour do " regard as worth following7 +hat properties in these people are interesting to me7 8o " tend to li#e shyer people or more outgoing types7 &he answers to these and other such *uestions are a signal of what is important for me. "t is not only everyday life which is involved here. +e come up against cultural differences on the level of heroes in fairytales, myths and fol# stories. 9et us ta#e, for example, the status of the devil. +hile $2ech fairytales have the devil as the embodiment of evil, as atan, who leads a person into temptation and often to hell, we also have the good devil, the little devil. &his is usually a being who was banished from hell, a little elf who is %olly and good fun to be with.

&his second variant on the devil does not exist in -erman fairytales. &he devil is the embodiment of evil, full stop. And if someone has grown up with this idea of the devil, try telling them in a playful way during conversation that they1re the devil) the response might not be exactly enthusiastic. $orms and .alues are another, deeper level which we can come up against. &hey involve a deeply rooted feeling of how things are done, what is good and what is bad. :or instance, putting *uestions into conversations. "n a 8utch context, a person can be considered something of a bump#in if they don1t as# *uestions, because this is ta#en to be a sign of disinterest. .owever, the *uestions which a 8utch interlocutor would expect during a conversation would, within a $2ech context, be regarded as too personal. "n these cases, it is not a *uestion of courteous conduct but simply the fact that in another cultural group, things are done differently and norms and values can be displaced. &his level can seem relatively complex, but it is still possible to spea# of it as long as there exists an awareness of the fact that another might see a situation differently than me. /asic pre0assumptions: /-rundannahmen0 is a term for which it is very difficult to find an ;nglish e*uivalent. "t is the attempt to describe the fact that there exist situations which are so unambiguous that it does not occur to us that another might perceive them differently than us. ;xpressed in the form of an image, it involves a situation in which " open a door and ta#e a step forward without chec#ing whether the floor continues behind the door. My experience has shown me that the floor continues. &he problem when meeting people from different cultures is often that this type of preassumption does not apply and that, for them, behind the doors there may be a chasm. People from different cultures have a different pre-assumption, caused by repeated (and different! life experience. "f " regularly fell into a chasm upon wal#ing through doors, " might be more careful. And this is where the problems begin. "t is difficult to spea# of such deeply-embedded assumptions, and this often causes the most serious misunderstandings brought about by cultural differences. &his involves the concept of time, space, taboo, the ability to endure insecurity, perceptions of the environment, etc. "n light of what has been said so far, let us try to thin# about how we recognise that we are face to face with cultural differences in a given situation. "t is often only when both parties have the will to agree on something and yet cannot for some reason. &hey come up against the fact that for each party, something different is important, something so essential that it is not easy to communicate about. "n addition, each of the parties perceives their own point of view so automatically that it doesn1t occur to them that the other is understanding and perceiving things differently. 9et1s loo# at the individual situations in our dialogues' 1ialogue "#change, ugh Magda finds herself in a complex situation. he has made every effort, she feels she has

done everything she could and maybe even more, she expects some #ind of recognition or praise, more contact. "nstead of this, she gets a cold shoulder in the form of pointed *uestions regarding when she will have the leaflets ready. "n this #ind of situation, the problem arises as to how we perceive the concept of cooperation. 8oes cooperation mean that we do a professional %ob at wor#, that we don1t expect any great friendship to develop from contact with our colleagues, and there is therefore no real reason to ma#e an effort to develop a relationship7 6r on the contrary, within the framewor# of cooperation do we expect friendly chats, do we li#e to get on a personal level, go to the pub with our colleagues, and spend free time with them7 "f our idea of cooperation fundamentally differs from someone else1s, we are faced with a cultural difference. +e have different expectations, and because culture is embedded so deeply, it does not occur to us that the other person expects something diametrically opposite. "f we do not clarify these divergent expectations, it can easily happen that both parties regard their view of the situation as the automatically correct one, and misunderstandings or even upset is %ust around the corner. 1ialgoue ou!re late again +e face a very similar situation in this dialogue. &he perception of time is a traditional sphere of cultural difference, not only in terms of precision, but the entire perception of the flow of time which we have delineated. &here are people who live the present very intensively. Meeting a friend then means that past, present and future merge into one moment, which is important. &he future ceases to exist, because only the here and now exists at any given moment. &his applies to Jami in the dialogue. "n his eyes, he hasn1t forgotten Magda. "n short, his perception of time does not allow him to let a friend pass by with a *uic# /.i, can1t stop, "1m in a hurry.0 And this is completely incomprehensible for Magda, who perceives time differently. Magda #nows exactly what time she has a meeting arranged, and whatever happens she will be there at that time. And when she is sub%ected to the upsetting experience of waiting, she1s angry, sad and explains Jami1s behaviour within her own frame of reference. Jami is showing her that she means nothing to him, because it is clear that otherwise he would be on time. 1ialogue Ludo "n this dialogue, we again come up against one example of such a culturally-conditioned disharmony. "n the sphere of teaching, we come across cultural aspects of games. ;ach game has a reason why we play it ( it ritualises or processes some #ind of content which is important in life. &here exist four basic aspects to games which are represented to varying degrees in various social games) however, one will always predominate. $hance ( ensures the e*uality of opportunity (e.g. dice games, team-pic#ing, etc.!. $ompetition ( winning is important, the winner is visible, everyone spea#s about them. <epetitive mimicry ( e.g. mimicry. &his is about the truth. :or instance, when acting out the character of a particular person, " can get at some truth of that person. =ertigo ( this involves rotation, merry-go-rounds and games involving trust. "n the case of 9udo, the game revolves around chance. A certain number will appear on the dice which will represent either victory or loss. ;verything is determined by chance,

by the swing towards good fortune or hard luc#. 6ne cannot influence anything, one can only wait and see what happens to them. "n some cultures, this aspect of a game is important and desirable, and without this aspect the game is not in itself interesting. 8iplomacy or some such strategic game offers a completely different #ind of experience. &his mainly involves a duel, competitiveness and victory. " win by virtue of my craft, cleverness, the fact that " #now how to tric# my opponent. And again, there are cultures which need this aspect in their games. +hen people are deciding what game to play and each needs their own experience, and each experience is diametrically opposed, it can be pretty difficult to agree on a game which is going to amuse everyone. +o 2hat can 2e do& >aturally, we find ourselves faced with a very pragmatic *uestion ( what should " do in such situations7 &he #ey to resolution is two steps. 6n the one hand, " have to admit that " find myself in a situation in which there is no bad faith but simply a cultural difference. &his can happen not only in the examples cited above, but on various other levels. :rom the relationship with power, via the degree to which we reach a decision in accordance to the wishes of the group or our own individual wants, all the way to what is important for us in the sphere of veracity, freedom, our relationship to the boss, etc., it would be difficult to find a situation in life in which we couldn1t come up against cultural differences. &he remedy in such a situation is not only to admit that one is facing a cultural difference. "t is often necessary to clarify what each of the two people expect, how they perceive the situation, and what it means for them. &he ability to master these situations is not, however, natural, and it is necessary to train over time. &his text should serve as an invitation not to fear such situations, but to begin to resolve them. 1ialogue $othing!s Czech here .owever, in the sphere of culture we still have one very important aspect which we come up against in this dialogue, above all. &his is the dynamic aspect of culture. -iven the speed of life, the possibilities of fast transportation, travel, the "nternet, and other technical devices, we more and more fre*uently find ourselves face-to-face with the 6ther. +e have to concede that an encounter with the 6ther will provo#e a change in us. $ulture is not a bell glass in which we are born and in which we remain. $ulture is more an open, dynamic concept which changes during our life and is reorganised. . Ali1s re*uest, expressed in the dialogue, is the ordinary wish of a person see#ing security and orientation. 6ur permanently-changing world is constantly confronting us with something new, and innovations and otherness always bring insecurity. &his is natural. At the same time, we live in a world which does not offer us many opportunities to ma#e the most of our security. 6therness is all around us, and it is necessary to concede that this 6therness changes our culture. &he ability to reflect and to be self-reflexive can help us find a moderate route between the extremes of a conservative and excessively open lifestyle ( so that we always retain our integrity.


)eferences: 5ittl, ?. (@443!. AxA ist neunmal #lug. >Brenberg' :rCn#isches 5ildungswer# fBr :riedensarbeit (:5:!. $aillois, <. (3DDE!. .ry a lidF' mas#a a 2GvraH (-ames and people' mas# and vertigo!. Praha' >a#ladatelstvI tudia Jpsilon. .all, ;., &. (3DKL!. 5eyond $ulture. >ew Jor#. .all, ;., &. (3DMD!. &he silent language. >ew Jor#. .ofstede, - (3DD3!. Allemaal Andersden#enden., Amsterdam. &rompenaars, :. (3DED!. <iding the waves of culture. :airfield.

How to Understand and Admire Cultural Differences



3 3nderstand. <ealise that all people are different. ome are meaner, wiser, or nicer than others, but that shouldnOt change how you treat people' fairly and #indly. Ad


@ 4%ser.e. tart conversations with people who are from different cultures, different places of the world, or who li#e certain hobbies and find out what ma#es them love it so much.

:ind out some history on that personOs hobbyNcultureNhome place. &hat way youOll be able to appreciate it more than you do now with your limited exposure. -o and have a tal# with people you donOt #now. <emember there are only L degrees of separation between all of us.


A "#perience a ne2 place. -o somewhere outside of your state, country or even your comfort 2one, and experience how other people live.


P Mix-up your own life with another culture for a few days. Ma#e a study of it and try food that has been made famous by a certain culture. ;xplain to your family the roots of the culture so you can get some feelings and tastes of it.


M +tud, some histor, and traditions of other peoples of the earth, ,our countr,, or ,our home to2n. 5e proud of your own culture, but also smile and admire other ways of life as examples of the diversity of the nations and regions of interest to you.


L 5ccept these differences. ,nderstand we are all human, and we all have our own opinions, habits and ways of life.

Miscommunication: how to deal with it?

http'NNwww.boo#i.ccNmiscommunication-how-to-deal-with-itNreason-A-culturaldifferencesN $ultural 8ifferences &his chapter is about cultural differences and why cultural differences can lead to miscommunication if not ta#eninto considerationwhen communicating. $ultural differences are very important topic in business life because nowadays almost every organi2ation has people from different countries with different bac#grounds. "n business life, it is not always easy to communicate with people that are from different countries. .owever, in business, communicating is a must so somehow all people have to come together and ma#e serious decision in their businesses. &his is way cultural differences

have to be ta#en into consideration in order to successfully run an organi2ation where people are from different countries. "n business life cultural differences can be a great advantage but also a disadvantage. $onsider a business meeting where there are group of businessmen and all of them are from different countries. &hey all have their own core beliefs and national traits that effect on communication. 6f course all the people in the meeting have different expectations, attitudes and reactions so it is easy to say that in a situation li#e this miscommunication is more a rule than an exception. .owever, miscommunication in cross-cultural communication can also be avoided. --ermans are very accurate and punctual. o don1t be hasty if you are waiting an offer -ermans won1t wing it, instead it will be well calculated also they don1t necessarily spea# ;nglish. Also there are a lot of men in decision ma#ing positions. -Americans which " have met are well spea#ing, writing and sales oriented. My feeling is that they bend the truth a little bit " am not saying that they are lying, but ma#e it sound li#e better that is it by not saying the bad things at all. -5ritish are my opinion pretty relaxed concerning the email writing and other behaving. &hese are only /thoughts0 of people from different countries. imilarly, usually when we go to different countries we have only certain thoughts and perceptions on how to communicate with people. &his clearly illustrates the problem of miscommunication because if we would now local habits and beliefs and so there probably wouldn1t be any miscommunication. .owever, usually we only have thoughts about other people from different countries but we don1t really #now how to communicate with them. +e are living in a world where intercultural encounters are becoming more and more common, especially in business. &his also means that miscommunication will occur more and more often in business life. " want to illustrate this problem by telling you about a situation that too# place in ingapore where there were people from different countries in a business meeting. &wo special guests from :inland where eating business dinner with ingaporean employees. &hey left the table immediately after eating which surprised the person who witnessed the situation. 9ater on, she found out that it is a local habit to leave the table immediately after eating whereas in :inland acting li#e that would be rude. "n here, cultural differences where the reason why this miscommunication occurred. "f the :inns wouldn1t lead the table immediately after eating they would have considered as being rude. "n conclusion, to avoid miscommunication in foreign cultures people should educate local habits and manners before business trip or other %ourney to foreign countries. &his example also show us how easy it is to miscommunicate because differences between cultures are so huge and we all use to thin# that our way to do things is the only way to do things. o how we could prevent what happened to Mr. and Mrs. &ar##a. "f you are in a foreign and unfamiliar country you should be open minded and observe how locals act in

different situations and learn from those. "f you are abroad there always happen something what you have not been ready for and you have to go with a flow. Mr. and Mrs. &ar##aQs situation when they was carried out from the dinner table they would prevent this to happened if they have read more about ingapore1s culture and how to act in a business dinner party specially, because they were guest of honor. "f they have eaten a little bit faster this conflict wouldn1t happen. Also there are special customs and habits which don1t necessarily are able to read anywhere instead you might %ust have #nown these things and with experience you will learn these habits and #now how to act.

Cultural 1ifferences& 4r, are 2e reall, that different&

-regorio 5illi#opf ,niversity of $alifornia http'NNwww.cnr.ber#eley.eduNucceM4Nag-laborNKarticleNarticle43.htm
To all who took the proxemics survey (between December 2007 and June 2009) a warm thank you !e are in the process o" analy#in$ the data% &lso' the best copy o" this paper on cultural differences may be "ound as a (D) (&ppendix *) under my new book' Party-Directed Mediation: Helping Others Resolve Differences' which you may download "ree here%++,re$orio

*n -99.' * had my "irst opportunity to visit /ussia as a representative o" the 0niversity o" 1ali"ornia% * was there to provide some technical assistance in the area o" a$ricultural labor mana$ement% 2/ussians are a very polite people'2 * had been tutored be"ore my arrival% 3ne o" my interpreters' once * was there' explained that a $entleman will pour the limonad (type o" 4uice) "or the ladies and show other courtesies% Toward the end o" my three week trip * was invited by my youn$ /ussian host and "riend 5icolai 6asilevich and his lovely wi"e 7ulya out to dinner% &t the end o" a wonder"ul meal 7ulya asked i" * would like a banana% * politely declined and thanked her' and explained * was most satisfied with the meal% 8ut the whole while my mind was racin$9 2!hat do * do: Do * o""er her a banana even thou$h they are as close to her as they are to me: !hat is the polite thin$ to do:2 2!ould you like a banana:2 * asked 7ulya% 27es'2 she smiled' but made no attempt to take any o" the three bananas in the "ruit basket% 2!hat now:2 * thou$ht%

2!hich one would you like:2 * "umbled% 2That one'2 she pointed at one o" the bananas% ;o all the while thinkin$ about /ussian politeness * picked the banana 7ulya had pointed at and peeled it hal" way and handed it to her% ;miles in 7ulya and 5icolai<s "aces told me * had done the ri$ht thin$% &"ter this experience * spent much time lettin$ the world know that in /ussia' the polite thin$ is to peel the bananas "or the ladies% ;ometime durin$ my third trip * was politely disabused o" my notion% 23h no' ,ri$orii Davidovich'2 a /ussian $raciously corrected me% 2*n /ussia' when a man peels a banana "or a lady it means he has a romantic interest in her%2 =ow embarrassed * "elt% &nd here * had been proudly tellin$ everyone about this tidbit o" cultural understandin$% 1ertain lessons have to be learned the hard way% ;ome well meanin$ articles and presentations on cultural di""erences have a potential to do more harm than $ood and may not be as amusin$% They present' like my bananas' too many $enerali#ations or >uite a distorted view% ;ome o"ten+heard $enerali#ations about the =ispanic culture include9 =ispanics need less personal space' make less eye contact' touch each other more in normal conversation' and are less likely to participate in a meetin$% ,enerali#ations are o"ten dan$erous' and especially when accompanied by recommendations such as9 move closer when talkin$ to =ispanics' make more physical contact' don<t expect participation' and so on% =ere is an attempt to sort out a couple o" thou$hts on cultural di""erences% ?y perspective is that o" a "orei$n born+and+raised =ispanic who has now lived over two decades in the 0nited ;tates and has had much opportunity "or international travel and exchan$e%

Commonality of humankind
Di""erences between people within any $iven nation or culture are much $reater than di""erences between $roups% @ducation' social standin$' reli$ion' personality' belie" structure' past experience' a""ection shown in the home' and a myriad o" other "actors will a""ect human behavior and culture% ;ure there are di""erences in approach as to what is considered polite and appropriate behavior both on and o"" the 4ob% *n some cultures 2yes2 means' 2* hear you2 more than 2* a$ree%2 Aen$th o" pleasantries

and $reetin$s be"ore $ettin$ down to businessB level o" tolerance "or bein$ around someone speakin$ a "orei$n (not+understood) lan$ua$eB politeness measured in terms o" $allantry or eti>uette (e%$%' standin$ up "or a woman who approaches a table' yieldin$ a seat on the bus to an older person' etc%)B and manner o" expected dress are all examples o" possible cultural di""erences and traditions% *n ?Cxico it is customary "or the arriving person to $reet the others% )or instance' someone who walks into a $roup o" persons eatin$ would say provecho (en4oy your meal)% *n 1hile' women o"ten $reet both other women and men with a kiss on the cheek% *n /ussia women o"ten walk arm in arm with their "emale "riends% (ayin$ attention to customs and cultural di""erences can $ive someone outside that culture a better chance o" assimilation or acceptance% *$norin$ these can $et an unsuspectin$ person into trouble% There are cultural and ideolo$ical di""erences and it is good to have an understandin$ about a culture<s customs and ways% &aron (un' a 1anadian 3D1net correspondent' wrote9 2*n studyin$ cross cultural di""erences' we are not lookin$ at individuals but a comparison o" one ethnic $roup a$ainst others% =ence' we are comparin$ two bell curves and $enerali#ation cannot be avoided%2 &nother correspondent explained the human need to cate$ori#e% True and true' but the dan$er comes when we act on some o" these $enerali#ations' especially when they are based on "aulty observation% &ctin$ on $enerali#ations about such matters as eye contact' personal space' touch' and interest in participation can have serious ne$ative conse>uences%

Cross-cultural and status barriers

;ometimes' observations about cultural di""erences are based on scienti"ic observation (see' "or instance' &r$yle' ?ichael' Bodily Communication' 2nd ed%' ?ethuen D 1o% Atd%' -9EE)% &r$yle cites several studies on non+verbal communications and culture (see pp% F7+G-)% &ccordin$ to the studies cited' Aatin &mericans make more eye contact' "ace each other more' and touch more (p% FE) when they speak% ;tron$ eye contact used by =ispanics $oes alon$ with my observations% *" =ispanics "ace each other more' it is probably because o" the need "or eye contact% * do not believe that =ispanics touch more' with the exception o" some very speci"ic social contexts' one o" them bein$ between datin$ or married couples% 3ne o" the studies cited more contact amon$ Aatin &merican couples (p% G0)% &nother study showed that Aatin &mericans stand closer than 5orth &mericans

(somethin$ that $oes contrary to my observations) but that there are re$ional variations amon$ countries (p%G0)% &r$yle asserts that there are "ew $enuine cross+cultural studies in the area o" spatial behavior% *nterestin$ly' yet another study (p% G0) showed that 2middle+class &mericans actually touched >uite a lot2 and that the 0;& is more o" a contact culture than people think% ?uch o" the di""erences in culture have to do with "ood preparation' music' and what each culture considers politeness% ood preparation' "or instance' can be >uite di""erent in various cultures% 3ne "armer could not understand why his workers did not attend a specially prepared end+o"+season meal% The meal was bein$ prepared by the "arm owners% *nstead' when the "arm operators provide the bee"' pork or other meat but dele$ate the actual preparation to the workers who can spice up their own way' such a celebration meal can be a $reat success% ;imilarly' a diary "armer "ound out that his ?exican employees were not too excited about $ettin$ $round bee" as a perk% *nstead' they would have pre"erred the cow<s head' ton$ue' brains' as well as other cuts o" meat that were not $round up% !ith world $lobali#ation' even tastes in "ood and music are rapidly chan$in$' however% !hen * came to the 0;' "or a lon$ time * was also $uilty o" broad $enerali#ations about those born in the 0;% !hile * have not con>uered this disa$reeable human inclination' * "eel * am be$innin$ to see the way% 3"ten' observations on cultural di""erences are !ased on our o"n "eakness and reflect our ina!ility to connect "ith that culture# &s a youn$ man * "ound mysel" in an almost entirely &n$lo+ ;axon community in 5ew 1anaan' 1onnecticut% * remember that on several occasions * "elt my personal space was bein$ invaded and wondered how &n$lo+;axon men could stand bein$ so close to each other% &"ter all these years' * still "eel uncom"ortable sittin$ as close to other men as o"ten dictated by chair arran$ements in the 0;% * am not the exception that proves the rule% 3ther "orei$n+born immi$rants "rom ?Cxico and *ran have mentioned "eelin$ the same way% Jill =eiken' an =/net correspondent' explained her learnin$ process this way9 2*<ve tau$ht @;A to many many di""erent nationalities and lived in roomin$ situations with people "rom all nations and lived in Japan and 1ambodia%%% it took me a lon$ time not to $enerali#e and now when * hear others doin$ so%%% * know they are 4ust be$innin$ to <wade in the river'< so to speak' o" intercultural relations%2

* now live in 1ali"ornia and have been married "or over 20 years to a 1ali"ornian (o" 5orthern @uropean descent)% *t is sort o" "unny because my wi"e now reali#es that * need to have eye contact while we talk% *" she is readin$' she has learned that * stop talkin$ i" * don<t have eye contact with her% * have had several people tell me' when * stop talkin$ because * no lon$er have eye contact' 2Heep talkin$' *<m listenin$%2 ?y kids still $ive me a bad time about the year my mother came to visit and we drove to 7osemite 5ational (ark% They were all panicked because * kept lookin$ at my mother as * drove% They "elt * was not lookin$ at the road enou$h and thou$ht we would drive o"" the mountain% * have a very hi$h need "or eye contact% 8esides bein$ a native 1hilean' * have met' tau$ht' been tau$ht' roomed with' studied with' worked "or' worked with' been supervised by' supervised' and been "riends with =ispanics "rom almost every ;panish+speakin$ country in the world% * have interviewed and done research amon$ hundreds o" =ispanic "arm workers and have noticed no di""iculties with poor eye contact or invasion o" personal space% 5or have * ever had di""iculties in these areas with people "rom other nations or cultures% ;tron$ eye contact is partially a "actor o" shynessB partly a measure o" how sa"e a person "eels around another% *" those who have written about poor eye contact on the part o" =ispanics would walk down a mostly minority nei$hborhood at dusk' they may also "ind themselves lookin$ at the $round and makin$ less eye contact% 1ross+cultural observations can easily be tainted and contaminated by other "actors% (erceived status di""erences can create barriers between cultures and even within or$ani#ations% )or instance' "arm mana$ers' instructors' and "orei$n volunteers (throu$h universities' peace corps' "armer+to+"armer pro$rams' etc%) may appear to have a status di""erential with those "arm workers' students' and technical assistance recipients they are workin$ with% & person with this status di""erential will have to show' by word and action' that she values the potential contributions o" those she works with% 0ntil this happens she will only obtain compliance but never commitment% &t times' then' it may appear that some workers or students' especially when there are social or ethnic di""erences' do not participate as easily% This is not because they do not have ideas to contribute' but rather' because they may need a little convincin$ that

their ideas would be valued% 3nce this "lood$ate o" ideas is opened' it will be di""icult to stop it% *n some sub+cultures' once a person has $iven an opinion' others are unlikely to contradict it% That is why some or$ani#ations ask their least senior employees to $ive an opinion "irst' as "ew will want to contradict the more season employees% ;ettin$ up the discussion "rom the be$innin$ as one where one desires to hear all sort o" di""erent opinions' can be very "ruit"ul both in the workplace and in the classroom% &mericans have been historically welcome in most o" =ispanic &merica% !ith a "ew exceptions they are looked up to' resultin$ in de"erential treatment% This de"erential and polite treatment should not be con"used "or weakness' lack o" interest' and the like% ;tudies conducted some years a$o showed &"rican &merican children pre"erred !hite dolls% This has been chan$in$ as &"rican &mericans are less likely to discount their own contributions ("or an excellent discussion on contributions see /o$er 8rown<s $ocial Psychology: %he $econd &dition' )ree (ress' -9EG)% * believe =ispanics are also valuin$ their contributions more than in the past' and less subservient behaviors will be observed% 3nly throu$h e>uality o" respect between races and nations can we reach positive international relations in this $lobal economy (as well as peace at home)% 1ultural and ethnic stereotypes do little to "oster this type o" e>uality% 8reakin$ throu$h status barriers can take time and e""ort% The amount o" exertion will depend on many "actors' includin$ the skill o" the mana$er (teacher' volunteer) on the one hand' and how alienated and disen"ranchised "rom the main stream the person he is tryin$ to reach "eels% )or example' in @ast &"rica' a non+8lack mana$er speaks to the 8lack &"rican accountant and the accountant makes little eye contact and responds with submissive 27es' ;irs2 re$ardless o" what he hears% !hen the mana$er exits' this same accountant makes plenty o" eye contact and is "ull o" ideas and creativity when dealin$ with those o" his same and di""erent race% *n another example' an adult class o" =ispanic "arm workers says nothin$ to their &n$lo+;axon instructor over a three day period++even thou$h they do not understand what is bein$ tau$ht% This same $roup o" "arm workers' when $iven a chance to be active participants in the learnin$ process' become' in the words o" a second &n$lo+;axon instructor at the same 4unior colle$e' 2the best class o" students * have ever tau$ht%2

*n yet another case' an &n$lo+;axon adult educator "inds that =ispanics are apt to listen politely but not ask >uestions% =e advises others not to expect much participation "rom =ispanics% & "emale =ispanic elsewhere wonders i" those =ispanic "arm workers she teaches don<t participate because she is a woman% The "irst perceives that the lack o" participation is somewhat inherent in the =ispanic populationB the latter assumes her $ender is the cause% ?eanwhile' other =ispanic instructors create so much enthusiasm and active participation "rom the =ispanic audiences they work with' that those who walk by wonder what is $oin$++and why participants seem to be havin$ so much "un% *t is not a cultural di""erence i" someone can totally involve a $roup into a discussion' within minutes' even when that $roup has had little experience with a more participatory method in the past%

;tereotypin$ can have intense ne$ative e""ects' especially when educators or mana$ers make "ewer attempts to involve those o" other cultures because they have been tau$ht not to expect participation 3r do not reali#e there may be somethin$ wron$ when a student or employee o" a di""erent ethnicity makes little eye contact with them% )aye Aee' a concerned Japanese+&merican wrote9 2=ow anyone can try to make $enerali#ations about an entire continent o" people' plus all the &sian &mericans and the in"inite permutations o" people<s di""erin$ experiences' is beyond me%2 &s we interact with others o" di""erent cultures' there is no $ood substitute "or receptiveness to interpersonal "eedback' $ood observation skills' e""ective >uestions' and some horse sense% There is much to be $ained by observin$ how people o" the same culture interact with each other% Don<t be a"raid to ask >uestions as most people respond very positively to in>uiries about their culture% &sk a variety o" people so you can $et a balanced view% ?akin$ a $enuine e""ort to "ind the positive historical' literary' and cultural contributions o" a societyB learnin$ a "ew polite expressions in another person<s lan$ua$eB and showin$ appreciation "or the "ood and music o" another culture can have especially positive e""ects% ?y contention' then' is not that there are no cultural di""erences% These di""erences between cultures and peoples are real and can add richness (and humor) to the "abric o" li"e% ?y assertion is that people

everywhere have much in common' such as a need "or a""iliation and love' participation' and contribution% !hen the exterior is peeled o""' there are not so many di""erences a"ter all%

R 3DDD by &he <egents of the ,niversity of $alifornia and -regorio 5illi#opf Agricultural ;xtension, tanislaus $ounty. >o part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the written permission of the publisher and the author. Printing this electronic +eb page is permitted for personal, non-commercial use as long as the author and the ,niversity of $alifornia are credited.

Cultural differences in the workplace

Most Australian wor#places today employ people from diverse cultural bac#grounds. ome wor#ers may have specific cultural needs or re*uirements which should be ta#en into account.

1ress - ome cultures have specific clothing such as headscarves or turbans that are worn at all times. )eligious practices - ome religions re*uire time during wor# each day for prayer or time off for special religious days. Customs - ome cultures can or canOt have specific foods and drin#s, or may have rules about how food is prepared. +ocial .alues - "deas about appropriate social and sexual behaviour, wor# ethics, wealth and personal growth vary between cultures. 6amil, o%ligations - ome cultures have high family priorities which may sometimes conflict with wor#. $on0.er%al %eha.iour ( ;ye contact, facial expressions, hand gestures and how people interpret them vary between cultures.

;mployers are responsible for their wor#ersO physical and psychological health and wellbeing and should encourage tolerance and respect for cultural differences in the wor#place.

)eligious dress
Jou are entitled to wear your religious dress at wor#, unless it creates a safety ha2ard. "f you religious dress covers your face, you can be as#ed to show your face for reasonable identification purposes.

What ,our emplo,er can do

;mployers can'

train staff ma#e use of staff cultural s#ills promote cultural celebrations be flexible not discriminate against wor#ers because of the employerOs own cultural bac#ground.

+or#ers and employers should also consider cultural differences as possible reasons for problems or misunderstandings in the wor#place. &reating people unfairly at wor# because of their cultural difference may be unlawful under e*ual opportunity laws. "f you thin# you have been discriminated against because of your culture, contact us for advice.