Thursday, October 19, 2006

Cultural Differences

Today's Management Practice lecture was on Cultural differences and it's one of the most interesting lectures I've been to. I guess that's mainly cos I can really identify with what the lecturer was talking about, especially here in Cambridge I'm surrounded by so many people from very different countries and cultures. It was a very interactive lecture cos everyone had so much to share about what they found different in other cultures and people from those cultures simply saying how they assumed that it was just the same with everyone.

One point that really hit home was that there are two types of communication High Context (not very direct, and a lot of what is being said can only be gathered by observing the subtle signs of the communicator) and Low Context (very direct and straightforward) and that usually Asians are High Context while Americans and British and most other Europeans are Low Context.

I was just thinking how true this was. One of the major differences I saw in most of the Americans and British students was how direct they were. For example, if I was in a team meeting and thought what someone said was wrong, I'd say it in a round about way, for example "Maybe you can look at it like this..." Where as I've often noticed that here they'd just say "you're wrong" Even most of the other Chinese, and Indian students felt the same way.

Then we went on to analyze how if we didn't know about the cultural differences we might interpret the other's reactions in a negative light. For example High Context people might feel that Low Context people are Cold and Aggressive while the Low Context people would think that the Low Context people are weak or are "beating about the bush".

It was amazing to find out the differences in the leadership styles too. I'd love to do my final thesis about the differences in cultures.


Blogger Turtle Guy said...

What I would have given to attend that lecture! Sounds fascinating!

I know some North Americans personally who talk in a High Context manner - if only to fulfill the aloofness of their nature! (As in, "I will elude to what I'm actually saying, but I won't actually TELL you what I'm saying... If you can figure it out, you can be part of my club. Otherwise, you lose!)

OK, not the point you were making, but I figured a little comic relief was in order!

7:00 pm, October 26, 2006  
Blogger Atasha said...

How true it all is. I am a mixture, I think. But most times, I do beat around the bush unless I am angry then I get straight to the point. No going around here and there for anyone to guess

7:40 am, November 01, 2006  

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