Let’s start by playing a game. Choose an answer for the question below – an answer either in Column A or Column B – that most accurately describes you. For each line you can only select an answer in Column A or B, but not both.
What do you find most effective for your style of work?
|COLUMN A||COLUMN B|
|Informal schedules and timelines||Formal schedules and timelines|
|Flexible task-list||A well organized task-list|
|Variety of tasks at the same time||Completing one task before moving on to the next|
|Different issues can be discussed at the same time in a meeting||Focus on one issue at a time in meetings|
|Little or no notice on schedule changes||Sufficient notice on schedule changes|
Sum up your Column A answers.
And now ask a few of your local contacts to do the same. What’s their sum for Column A?
If you discover that your sum is different from theirs – congratulations! You’ve just learned where you differ from your counterparts on one of 11 cultural variables (in this example the cultural variable is Time-Focus).
You may ask – and? So what? How is that useful?
It’s useful because it’s usually the first step of a cross-cultural training (although trainings can differ in their approach). Cultural variables form part of our cultural blueprint. The cultural blueprint — derived from influences of our country, our traditions, our religion, our place of work, etc – defines who we are starting from our habits/behaviors/skills/talents and ending with our values/identity/life purpose. When you know where your preferences lie in relation to each cultural variable, you know your own cultural blueprint.
Once you know your own cultural blueprint, you can compare it to the cultural blueprint of people around you – and, thus, understand what’s at the root of the difference between you and them. That’s step number two.
And step three is to find ways to negotiate the difference for the benefit of all concerned.
Of course cross-cultural training includes a lot more than this. It also includes information about the country, its history, traditions, and values. When this information is complemented with the process of negotiating through cultural blueprints, you get both the background information and the course of action you can take to make your adjustment easier.
We offer online cross-cultural trainings based on that model for Russia, China, Germany, Spain, the Philippines, the Netherlands, and Israel through the Global Coach Center Academy (more countries are coming up soon). If you are interested in contributing to this effort and covering a country, please contact us directly.
For all the letters in the A to Z of Successful Expatriation™ click here.
Remember to sign up for the Expat Club: 10 Weeks of Wisdom program. It has been specifically designed around expatriate issues and concerns and it’ll help you feel supported, encouraged, and inspired. BONUS: if you sign up before December 1, 2010, you get FREE access to the “7 Habits of a Happy Expat” online course. Sign up here.
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