Daily Archives: March 28, 2009

Cross-Cultural Misunderstandings… got one?

We’ve been having this great exchange on the LinkedIn Group I organized — Ask a Cross-Cultural Coach.  One of our members asked: “What funny misunderstandings have you experienced?”  I was immediately reminded of two cases that happened to me in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.  The years were mid-1990, the country was just climbing out of the break up of the Soviet Union, and we were working there in international development.  We were always on the look out for new places to eat and both stories happened to us in a restaurant.

In the first story, when we came in and sat down the waiter brought us 1 menu.  There were 5 of us so we asked for 4 more menus.  He looked at us, very confused, and said: “Why?  There are all the same.”

In the second story, in another restaurant I ordered a plate of spaghetti (local-made makaroni) and when it was brought to me it had a very bad smell.  So I mentioned it to the waiter.  He looked at me and responded: “They are fine.  Other people ate them before you.”  I never understood if he meant they ate “my” plate of spaghetti or just that batch of spaghetti in general.

On that discussion forum we had a few other, very funny comments.  Want to read them?  Visit and join our group at:


And please share your funny stories here!

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