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Cross Culture Shock


Check your Cross-Cultural Quotient! …

Check your Cross-Cultural Quotient!

"East vs. West" has become irrelevant as civilizations engage and clash. English as lingua franca conveys words, while meanings differ.

Talk given at Blink-Blank in Singapore in September 2011.

Published in Business , Technology
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  • 1. Cross-­‐Culture  Shock  Increasing  Your  Cross-­‐Cultural  Quo3ent  (XCQ)   @BenjaminJoffe   Blink-­‐Blank  |  Singapore,  2011.9  
  • 2. About  this  PresentaDon   Understanding  other  cultures  goes  beyond   speaking  foreign  languages.   Building  more  cross-­‐cultural  awareness  is  likely   to  make  a  difference  in  a  world  where  many  things   imply  people  from  more  than  one  naDonality.  I  hope  you  will  enjoy  the  ideas  &  quirks  shared  here.   I  am  interested  in  any  comment!   Reach  me  at  benjamin@plus8star.com    
  • 3. Cultural  DNA  of  @benjaminjoffe  I  spent  most  of  my  working  life  (11  years)  overseas,  especially  in  Japan,  China,   South  Korea  and  USA.  My  cultural  DNA  has  become  rather  complex.  
  • 4. Who  has  lived  in   more  than  1  country?  I  lived  (=  main  home  for  1+  months)  in  7  countries  on  3  conDnents.   How  about  you?  
  • 5. Who  can  speak  more  than  1  language?   I  speak  more  or  less  6  languages.  
  • 6. Model  This  is  a  model  of  possible  reacDons  to  a  foreign  culture.  
  • 7. 2.  RESISTANCE   3.  EXHAUSTION   4.  RESTORATION   4.  RESTORATION   OF  OF  HOMEOSTASIS   HOMEOSTASIS   1.  ALARM  HOMEOSTASIS   HOMEOSTASIS   DEATH   …it  is  actually  comparable  to  the  model  of  reacDon  to  a  stress  situaDon.  
  • 8. 2.  RESISTANCE   3.  EXHAUSTION   4.  RESTORATION   4.  RESTORATION   OF  OF  HOMEOSTASIS   HOMEOSTASIS   1.  ALARM  HOMEOSTASIS   HOMEOSTASIS   DEATH   Hopefully,  culture  shock  would  not  lead  to  death  ^_^;  
  • 9. Symptoms  of  Culture  Shock  •  Utopian  ideas  on  other  culture  •  Refusal  to  learn  the  language  •  Concerns  about  water  &  food  •  Concerns  about  being  robbed/cheated  •  Irritability  &  complaints  •  Staying  indoors  •  Fear  of  touching  local  people     Those  are  symptoms  of  someone  suffering  from  culture  shock.    
  • 10. Source:  Samuel  P.  HunDngton,  The  Clash  of  CivilizaDons  and  the  Remaking  of  the  World  Order,  1996  The  world  as  seen  by  the  West  in  1920.  SDll  a  view  shared  by  many.  
  • 11. Culture  =  Language?  Culture  is  ojen  seen  first  as  “language”,  but  you  can  speak  English  (or   Chinese)  and  know  nothing  about  how  people  behave  there.  
  • 12. Looking  at  languages,  it  is  clear  the  dominant  culture  is  NOT  Western.  
  • 13. Source:  Carroll  Quigley,  The  EvoluDon  of  CivilizaDons:  An  IntroducDon  to  Historical  Analysis,  1979   Some  other  civilizaDons  disappeared  over  the  centuries.  Even  today,  the  “Western”  civilizaDon  is  one  out  of  several.  
  • 14. Source:  Samuel  P.  HunDngton,  The  Clash  of  CivilizaDons  and  the  Remaking  of  the  World  Order,  1996  Another  way  to  look  at  the  world  is  through  the  lens  of  civilizaDons.   How  many  do  you  understand  besides  your  own?  
  • 15. What  do  you  mean?  Understanding  civilizaDons  and  cultures  is  key:  the  same  English  word   can  imply  different  things  according  to  your  culture!  
  • 16. German  Mid-­‐Autumn  FesDval?  In  China,  this  could  be  a  symbol  of  the  mid-­‐autumn  fesDval  
  • 17. …but  in  Germany,  people  would  think  of  Oktoberfest.  
  • 18. Czech  Dumplings?  Talk  about  dumplings  to  a  Chinese,  this  is  what  he  thinks  about.  
  • 19. To  a  Czech,  “dumpling”  means  something  quite  different.   Personally,  I  like  both!  
  • 20. Chaulafan  de  Pollo  (Ecuador)?   This  is  the  name  of  a  dish  I  encountered  in  Ecuador.  I  knew  “pollo”  means  chicken,  but  I  could  not  figure  out  “chaulafan”.  
  • 21. …unDl  I  saw  a  picture  and  realized  it  was  the  Spanish  for  “Chaofan”  (Chinese  fried  rice).  The  avocado  is  a  local  variaDon.  
  • 22. Contract?  What  do  you  envision  when  you  hear  “contract”?  In  the  US  it  might  mean   “my  lawyer  will  talk  to  your  lawyer”;  in  China  it  could  be  a  handshake!  
  • 23. •  USA      “It  works”  •  Japan      “It’s  perfect”  •  Korea      “It’s  new”  •  China      “It  gives  me  status”  •  Singapore  “ There  is  a  queue  for  it”   h/t  Jean  K.  Min   “Quality”  is  another  word  that  has  different  meanings  according  to  the  country.   Send  me  the  meaning  of  “Quality”  in  your  country  at  benjamin@plus8star.com  !  
  • 24. Other  Important  Cases   Appointment   Friendship   Marriage   DaDng   Fun  Imagine  the  implicaDons  of  the  differences  of  meaning  of  those  words!   You’d  beter  figure  it  out  before  geung  engaged!  
  • 25. For  instance,  in  Japan…   “It  is  a  bit  difficult…”   …means  no   The  meaning  is  100%  clear  for  a  Japanese  person,  but  if  you  take  it  literally  you  might  end  up  frustrated.  What  are  the  things  in  your  culture  that  no  one  should  take  literally?  
  • 26. PROBLEMS   1.  Learning  languages  takes  ages   2.  We  can’t  trust  words!  You  can’t  assume  the  words  used  by  someone  from  another  culture  have  the   same  meaning  you  give  them.  And  learning  languages  is  not  a  quick  fix.  
  • 27. Luckily…   WARNING:  ONLY  FOR  FEELINGS  &  ATTITUDE   Source:  Albert  Mehrabian,  "Decoding  of  Inconsistent  CommunicaDons”,  1967   You  might  have  heard  before  “communicaDon  is  only  7%  words”  (or  another  low  number).  This  idea  is  valid  ONLY  for  feelings  &  autudes!  
  • 28. Visual  Cues?   TRUST   DON’T  TRUST   Source:  htp://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/graphics/080817_face/  A  recent  research  tried  to  find  out  the  features  that  made  a  face  more   or  less  trusted.  It  would  be  really  sad  if  it  was  true!  
  • 29. My  Interests   Touch   Silence   Humor  Along  the  years,  I  developed  an  interest  in  cultural  elements   that  generally  go  unnoDced.  
  • 30. Touch  Touch  is  among  the  most  underrated.  I  now  think  that  it  is  a  very   important  aspect  of  human  communicaDon.  
  • 31. The  most  common  form  of  touch  is  when  greeDng  people.  From  handshake  to   high  five,  to  bowing  (no  touch!)  to  the  occasional  fist  bump  (yo!).  
  • 32. Which  Angle?  But  even  bowing  is  not  so  simple:  angle,  eye  contact,  speed  and  Dming   depend  on  the  relaDonship,  age,  rank  and  distance.  Good  luck!  
  • 33. Benefit  of  Being  French   The  first  kiss  is  free!  French  people  can  escalate  physical  contact  on  the  first  encounter!   It  is  not  only  accepted,  but  refusing  it  is  almost  awkward.  
  • 34. For  Everyone  Else  …and  if  you’re  not  French  and  you  try  to  pull  that  off,  you  are  at  risk!  Add  “I  got  into  the  habit  while  living  in  the  France”.  Now  that  is  fancy!  
  • 35. Unfortunately…   FRANCE   JAPAN   KOREA   CHINA  My  greeDngs  got  all  messed  up  ajer  living  abroad:  I  learned  to  bow  in  Japan,  hold  my  right  arm  with  my  lej  hand  during  handshake  in  Korea,  and  say  “nihao”  in  China,  and  ended  up  doing  all  at   once.  My  Western  friends  found  me  odd  and  my  French  friends  found  me  distant  (no  kissing  in   Asia!).  I  had  to  relearn  how  to  shake  hands  and  kiss  for  greeDng!  
  • 36. High  Touch  vs.  Low  Touch   (Sidney  Jourard,  1966)   Many  cool  sociology  studies  were  done  in  the  60’s.  This  one  looked  into  comparing  cultures  based  on  touch.  
  • 37. High  Touch   vs.  Low  Touch  •  USA    2x  /  30  min.  •  France  110x  /  30  min.   Source:  Touch  Study  by  Sidney  Jourard,  1966   As  part  of  this  study,  they  looked  at  couples  in  cafes  and  counted  the   number  of  Dmes  they  touched  each  other  in  30  minutes.  France  won.  
  • 38. Benefits(?)   •  High-­‐touch  >  Low  violence?   •  Low-­‐touch  >  More  violence?   •  (Birthrate?)   Are  fist  bumps  enough?  Low  touch  ojen  means  lower  empathy.  Apparently  a  recent  study  found  some   correlaDon,  though  it’s  hard  to  prove!  Maybe  we  need  more  hugs…  
  • 39. Touch  Zones   (Mark  Tomita,  2008)  Another  study  on  touch,  more  recent,  looked  into  “touch  zones”:  what  areas   can  you  touch  other  male  or  female  on,  and  what  do  you  allow  others?  
  • 40. Touch  Zones   Females  with  Males   Males  among  Males   Source:  Touch  Study  by  Mark  Tomita,  2008   Males  generally  don’t  touch  males  outside  hands  or  back.  Females  allow  themselves  to  touch  males  almost  anywhere!  
  • 41. US-­‐Centric?   As  it  ojen  happens,  this  study  was  done  in  the  US  (among  university  students).  It  is  relevant  everywhere?  
  • 42. …probably  not  in  China  (right),  Japan  (top)  or  Korea  (botom)  where  seeing  same-­‐sex  people  hold  hands  and  arms  is  quite  common.  
  • 43. Korea’s  “Mark  Zuckerberg”   Founder  of  gaming  startup  in  China   “Ondol”  water-­‐heated  Korean  floor  In  Korea,  it  is  totally  fine  to  sleep  on  the  floor  with  a  bunch  of  mates.  
  • 44. More  Disturbing!  You  might  even  be  surprised  to  get  a  hand  on  your  thigh  that  stays  there  or  get  your   but  grabbed  by  a  good  friend  who  wants  to  show  he  enjoys  your  company.  
  • 45. Silence  Silence  is  another  amazing  feature  that  differenDates  cultures.  
  • 46. (Silence)  •  Generally  uncomfortable  •  SomeDmes  pregnant  •  Rarely  meaningful   In  the  West,  we  don’t  do  too  well  with  silence.  
  • 47. In  Japan   Silence  Can  Express…   1.  Surprise   2.  Agreement  &  Disagreement   3.  Embarrassment   4.  Defiance   5.  Femininity   6.  Deference   7.  EffecDve  wordless  communicaDon  Analysis  of  silence  in  a  tutoring  lesson:  htp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyjenhfSnFU     In  Japan,  it  can  mean  many  things,  and  can  be  very  hard  to  interpret  and   deal  with  for  outsiders.  Ojen,  you’d  beter  wait  or  ask  for  clarificaDon.  
  • 48. “A-­‐Un”  RelaDonship  (阿吽の仲)  Some  couples  who  know  each  other  all  too  well  are  called  “A-­‐Un”:  one  just  opens  his/her  mouth   to  say  something  (“A”)  and  the  other  understands  instantly,  without  words  (“Un”).  
  • 49. Mapping  Cultural  Values   1.  Money  (Career,  cash,  possessions)   2.  Family  (parents,  children,  grandparents,  etc.  are  close  to  each  other)   3.  Society  (social  link  maters  more  than  individual)   4.  “Culture”  (arts,  travels,  literature,  etc.)   5.  Spirituality  (religious  or  not)   As  I  was  exposed  to  different  cultures,  I  idenDfied  5  elements  that  could  help  differenDate    them.  There  might  be  others  but  those  worked  prety  well  for  me.  
  • 50. TentaDve  Mapping  (France)   MONEY   0:  not  important   3   1:  maters  a  litle   2:  maters  quite  a  bit   2   3:  maters  a  lot   SPIRITUALITY   1   FAMILY   0   CULTURE   SOCIAL  LINK   Note:  This  is  a  personal  view  –  I  am  as  biased  as  the  next  guy!   Being  French,  I  gave  a  shot  at  French  values.  Send  me  your  view  on  your  country  at  benjamin@plus8star.com  !  
  • 51. CompaDbility  &  Culture  Clashes   •  France  /  USA   •  Korea  /  Japan   •  USA  /  China   •  Score  your  country!  Due  to  those  values,  there  are  frequent  “culture  clashes”  and  cultural  compaDbiliDes.   I  just  indicated  some  of  them.  Can  you  guess  what  are  the  cultural  values  involved?  
  • 52. Other  (potenDally)  InteresDng  Mapping   Cultures’s  comfort  with,  or  importance  of:   1.  Silence   2.  Touch  3.  Eye  Contact   4.  Smile   5.  Group   6.  Nudity   I  did  not  dive  into  all  of  those,  but  I  am  also  interested  in  the  levels  of   acceptance  and  frequency  or  the  4  other  elements  listed  above.  
  • 53. Most  Difficult   Humor  I  try  to  collect  jokes  or  understand  the  humor  of  countries  in  live  in.  I  consider  I  got  a   good  basis  when  I  can  invent  a  joke.  If  you  know  Japanese,  I’ll  tell  you  one.  
  • 54. Rakugo  (Japan)  As  an  example:  Rakugo  in  Japan  is  “sit-­‐down  comedy”  by  a  storyteller.  He/she  summons  imaginary   characters  and  the  ending  is  generally  surprising  and  hilarious  (as  well  as  the  build-­‐up).  
  • 55. Humor  can  lead  to  culture  shock:  I  met  a  BriDsh  guy  who  could  not  stand  the  US-­‐style  humor  in   the  Philippines  and  decided  to  move  out!  I  am  not  sure  what  he  meant.  Can  you  explain?  
  • 56. Thanks!   Cultural  input?   Complaints?   Jokes?   DROP  ME  A  LINE    Email:  benjamin@plus8star.com   Twiter:  @benjaminjoffe