August 7, 2015

Reference Points As a Basis for Understanding Cultures

The fourth tip in a series of tips on How to Broach Delicate Topics is to:   
Find Reference Points as a Basis for Understanding. 

Reference Point: Changing Climate 
In many parts of the US there are different seasons. Within the same season the weather conditions can vary widely. Because of this, people often own many clothes. Different kinds of clothes, shoes, outer and inner wear are needed based on the season. This is not true in some areas of India, or places closer to the equator that have similar weather patterns year round. In these areas, fewer outfits are required because the same kinds of clothing can be worn year round. 

Reference Point: Business Card Etiquette 
In Japan and some Asian countries, business cards are presented to the receiver by the giver with both hands to the receiver. The receiver should also accept it with both hands. Along with the exchange of cards; Japanese will bow to each other. Conversely, in America, business cards are exchanged between both parties at the same time. The giver uses their right hand to hand over the card to the receiver’s left hand and visa versa. There is no bowing between Americans. 

Reference Point: Road Infrastructure  
In the US since the roads are flat, wide and free of obstacles, potholes and even people and animals; people can drive fast. But, in a place like Sri Lanka or India this is not always true. Infrastructure differences affect the mindset of people; and their expectations are adjusted accordingly. 

Reference Point: Access to Water
A person from Japan may be surprised to find that an American with access to a lot of water would have a much shorter bathing ritual than them. The same Japanese may be surprised to know that in India people feel fresh utilizing much less water than they would in Japan.

Thank you for this tip, Nancy Altman, Certified Global 'Ease Coach/Trainer'.

End of Tip #3.
<--Read Tip #3 - Learn by Doing

Jennifer Kumar helps Indians work and communicate more effectively with Americans from India and within the US.  

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Authentic Journeys: Bridging Culture on Virtual Teams

We help build effective, culturally competent global teams with focus on the cultures of the USA and India. Jennifer Kumar, Managing Director, an American citizen, has almost 10 years experience living, studying and working (owning a business) in India. Authentic Journeys Consultancy is registered as a Private Limited in India (Kerala) and an LLC in the USA (Salt Lake City, Utah). We provide onsite and live-online instructor-led courses, facilitation and corporate coaching.