On Cultures

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"Seek to understand."
Importance of knowing and respecting cultural differences is essential tool in order to succeeed in the globalised work environment. Specifics to know about CEE region, Middle East and Indian subcontinent are briefly summarized in the following slides, in order to help you overcome initial cultural shocks.

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On Cultures

  1. 1. On cultures Bratislava, 12.05.2009 by Ivana Sendecka
  2. 2. AGENDA • Why we need to know about cultures? • Six phases of understanding cultural differences • CEE region specifics • Middle eastern specifics • Indian subcontinent specifics • Key messages
  3. 3. Awareness about cultural differences helps us to be successful and accepted by clients and colleagues when collaborating. We need to be cautious about very thin line, which is between respect and ignorance. What to be aware of? • Org. structure and processes Norms and beliefs • Core values (corporate, personal) • Language and communication style Consciousness about cultural • Time perception aspects, will ease change Values • Age importance – seniority factor resistance and • Innovation acceptance & readiness will develop intimacy with other party. • National stereotypes Traditions • Religious aspects in daily life • Corporate culture Let’s seek how to understand, not how to be understood.
  4. 4. AGENDA • Why we need to know about cultures? • Six phases of understanding cultural differences • CEE region specifics • Middle eastern specifics • Indian subcontinent specifics • Key messages
  5. 5. There are six phases of evolution of cultural understanding Recognizing which phase are people in is essential when dealing with cultural norms& beliefs High 4. Acceptance Shifts perspective to recognize that the same ordinary Inter-cultural sensitivity behaviours have different meanings in different cultures 5. Adoption 2. Defence Can evaluate others’ behaviour from his or her Recognizes some frame of reference and can differences, but sees find a certain behaviour to fit them as negative 3. Ethnocentrism the norms of a different Unaware of projection of his culture or her own culture values, sees his or her own values as superior 1. Denial Does not recognize cultural differences Low Time Interpreting the world around us & understanding it through the eyes of others is virtue of true leaders.
  6. 6. AGENDA • Why we need to know about cultures? • Six phases of understanding cultural differences • CEE region specifics • Middle eastern specifics • Indian subcontinent specifics • Key messages
  7. 7. Central Eastern Europe specifics What to expect when dealing with CEE representatives: • Modest and not very initiative in the • Socializing even after office hours beginning of the new assignment Specifics mainly of: and friendship atmosphere among colleagues is common Slovakia • Punctual and on time for meetings • People are jealous when others are and more successful than they are • Active conversation must be encouraged through good facilitation Czech Republic • Eager to learn new things quickly, once • Respect to hierarchy and authorities the initial resistance of change is within company is quite strong melted. Invitation by Slovak for national plumb drink “Slivovica” is expression of sympathy and respect.
  8. 8. AGENDA • Why we need to know about cultures? • Six phases of understanding cultural differences • CEE region specifics • Middle eastern specifics • Indian subcontinent specifics • Key messages
  9. 9. Doing business in the Middle East Findings after three years spent in the hub of the Middle East - Dubai Do’s Do not’s • Always negotiate and be patient, time pressure and • Agree on the first offer of the price – bargain! agreed deadlines doesn’t mean anything fixed • Shake hand of the woman, unless she offers her hand • Consider deal as closed once it is signed black on • Question absence on workplace when there is white on the paper (verbal agreements doesn’t count) praying time (5 times a day) • Respect elders and senior people to you • Give as a present chocolates with liquor / pork chips • Proper follow up after meeting and get top management involved Traditions Some more specifics • Friday, Saturday are weekend days • Text • Social connections are often more important than • Get used to answer on your request, which is: business relationship or expertise “Inshallah” (In God’s will). It means nor yes, nor no. • During Ramadan fasting don’t touch (handshake) the • Executives, local owners are part of the family and man, when you are woman don’t spend much time in the office – they have more of • Be ready to have late night meetings during Ramadan the representative function • Business affairs are held by “western” managers • Use only right hand when eating without cutlery • Positive attitude is well appreciated • Question: “How is family doing” is very common Basic knowledge of Arabic language is excellent ice breaker: “Assallam-u Aleikum”
  10. 10. AGENDA • Why we need to know about cultures? • Six phases of understanding cultural differences • CEE region specifics • Middle eastern specifics • Indian subcontinent specifics • Key messages
  11. 11. Working with Indian nationals Where as almost 70% of the Dubai’s population is from India, let’s summarize key points: Good to know, that: • Don’t rely on verbal agreements. Only “black on white” counts. • Saying “no” is not applicable, even when deliverable cannot be finished on time, despite that you will be said that everything will be done. • Shake of the head side to side means “yes”. • Whole family is often involved into decision making process when investing or purchasing. • Huge diversity of traditions are present and well respected (cast system, arranged marriages, religious beliefs etc.) • Don’t make tea/ coffee or photo copy by yourself, “office boy” will feel offended that you do interfere into his duties. Strong “Bollywood” movie culture is very precious part of the lives, therefore to know at least the name of actor Amithab Bachan is great to start bond with Indian colleagues.
  12. 12. AGENDA • Why we need to know about cultures? • Six phases of understanding cultural differences • CEE region specifics • Middle eastern specifics • Indian subcontinent specifics • Key messages
  13. 13. What should you Take Away Home? • Cultural aspect is part of every environment, community or project • People warmly welcome, when you show knowledge about their culture, habits, traditions or you can greet them in their mother tongue. • Sharing lessons learned about cultural aspect must be part of our organizational culture and it can be developed to become competitive advantage. • Invest time to learn about the people you work with, it will pay off instantly. • When you accuse someone he is doing something wrong, it means: “ You don’t understand her/him.” • Understanding of the cultural norms and beliefs is critical for interpreting behaviour • Communication must be clear, open and transparent • Carry always open mind with you. • Be curious, learn, listen and look around...One is never done with learning.
  14. 14. Contact details 2.0 Ivana Sendecká Lifelong Learner E-Mail: senda5@yahoo.com Skype: sendecka Twitter: IvanaSuperCool Blog: www.ivanasendecka.blogspot.com

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