Reference Points As a Basis for Understanding Cultures

Posted On: August 7, 2015

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. 

More about Japanese business card etiquette here
Tips on Introductions with Americans 
How to give a good handshake 

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. 

Tips on Road Rules for Desis in the US

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

Read Tip 5 – Blame it on the Culture –>

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

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