The world is full of confrontations between people, groups
and nations who think, feel and act differently. At the same time, these
people, you and I, groups and nations; we are exposed to common problems that
demand cooperation for solution. Economic, environmental, natural, technological
and political developments or problems do not stop at national or regional
borders. Coping with the threats of volatile currencies, an EU crisis,
organized crime, poverty, terrorism, floods, pollution, AIDS, nuclear warfare
threats and so on, demands cooperation from leaders of many countries. Jintao,
Merkel, Zarkozy, Obama, Patil and Medvedev and their groups of followers, their
ways of thinking, how they feel, what they value and how they act: How to deal
with all these differences? How are we supposed to ever find mutual
understanding on a global level?

What I value as respectful, as important and essential in
business relations is most likely not the same values my Russian or Chinese
colleague hold. I am programmed to value what the people who have raised me and
the people I have grown up with see as important and valuable. If I would have
been born in the Middle East or in South-America I would have a mindset today
completely different of the one I have. I see myself as a “European” thinker,
or, more correctly, “Northern-European”. This is where I live and where I feel
accepted, my mindset and perception is common and m neighbours and friends
think, feel and act alike. Of course there are varieties among us, but in
general we can divide perception and values into geographical areas.

I call it mental programming. The sources of one´s mental
programs lie within the social environments in which one grew up and collected
one´s life experience. The programming starts within one´s family. Further the
neighbourhood, the school, the youth groups, the student environment, the work
place and the living community affects our programming. I guess a more
customary term for such mental programming is CULTURE. I have read that in the
study of social anthropology “culture” is a catchword for all patterns of
thinking, feeling and acting. I refer not only to the activities supposed to
refine the mind, but also ordinary activities and habits – such as eating,
greeting, showing or not showing feelings, keeping a certain physical distance
from others, making love or as simple as it may sound; the maintenance of body
hygiene. Culture consists of the unwritten rules of the social game. Culture is
learned. It derives from one´s social environment and not our genes. Human
nature and our individual personalities are other aspects – human nature being a
universal level inherited in our genes. Because we all feel anger, joy,
sadness, shame… However, how we express these feelings and how we obtain
these are closely linked to our culture. The personality on the other hand is
unique. Partly inherited, partly learned.

Extremely fascinating!

…and currently a topic I work with every day. This time I
am confronted with these exciting differences in a business situation and not on
a personal level. I have friends with all over the world and I have different
ways to act and communicate with my friends. Nevertheless, I love and respect
them all alike. In international business – cultural differences are challenging and a topic that leaders and employees have to cope with. Resistance? Not a solution.

I try to understand, I try to communicate cross-cultural.How to shape a sentence so that the receiver perceives the message I wish to communicate?

It is challenging and from time to time frustrating.

The
cultures or people involved in this specific case are mainly Northern-Europeans, nevertheless the
perception of certain actions of the past are very different.

I hope the communication flow
will contribute to clarification and not confusion – as it previously has been
proved was the case.

Challenging challenging but very very interesting. More to come..

Vagablond – out&about