Cross culture awareness : A pictorial presentation

Cross Cultural Awareness

               What is Culture ?

•       Culture is the “lens” through which you view the world.

•       It is central to what you see,

•       How you make sense of what you see,

•       How you express yourself.

§  A shared system of meanings, beliefs, values, behaviours through which experience is interpreted and carried out


Americans as other see them…

§   India:“Americans seem to be in a perpetual hurry. Just watch the way they walk down the street. They never allow themselves the leisure to enjoy life; there are too many things to do.”

§   Turkey: “Once we were out in a rural area in the middle of nowhere and saw an American come to a stop sign. Though he could see in both directions for miles and no traffic was coming, he still stopped!”

§   Colombia: “The tendency in the US to think that life is only work hits you in the face. Work seems to be the one type of motivation.”

§   Ethiopia: “The American is very explicit; he wants a “yes” or a “no”. If someone tries to speak figuratively, the American is confused.”

§   Iran: “The first time my American professor told me, “I don’t know the answer, I will have to look it up,” I was shocked. I asked myself, “Why is he teaching me? In my country a professor would give the wrong answer rather than admit ignorance.”

What is Cross Culture Awareness

•       Cultural Awareness is the foundation of communication and it involves the ability of standing back from ourselves and becoming aware of our cultural values, beliefs and perceptions.

Degree of cultural awareness

•        There are several levels of cultural awareness that reflect how people grow to perceive cultural differences.

•        My way is the only way – At the first level, people are aware of their way of doing things, and their way is the only way. At this stage, they ignore the impact of cultural differences. (Parochial stage)

•        I know their way, but my way is better – At the second level, people are aware of other ways of doing things, but still consider their way as the best one. In this stage, cultural differences are perceived as source of problems and people tend to ignore them or reduce their significance. (Ethnocentric stage)

•       My Way and Their Way – At this level people are aware of their own way of doing things and others’ ways of doing things, and they chose the best way according to the situation. At this stage people realize that cultural differences can lead both to problems and benefits and are willing to use cultural diversity to create new solutions and alternatives. (Synergistic stage)

•       Our Way – This fourth and final stage brings people from different cultural background together for the creation of a culture of shared meanings. People dialogue repeatedly with others, create new meanings, new rules to meet the needs of a particular situation. (Participatory Third culture stage)

High Context culture

•       High Context

•       Less verbally explicit communication, less written/formal information

•       More internalized understandings of what is communicated

•       Multiple cross-cutting ties and intersections with others

•       Long term relationships

•       Strong boundaries- who is accepted as belonging vs who is considered an “outsider”

•       Knowledge is situational, relational.

•       Decisions and activities focus around personal face-to-face relationships, often around a central person who has authority.


  Small religious congregations, a party with friends, family gatherings, expensive gourmet restaurants and neighbourhood restaurants with a regular clientele, undergraduate on-campus friendships, regular pick-up games, hosting a friend in your home overnight.

•       African

•       Brazilian

•       Chinese

•       French

•       Indian

•       Italian

•       Japanese

•       Portuguese

•       Russian

•       Southern United States

•       Spanish

•       Examples: 

•         large US airports, a chain supermarket, a cafeteria, a convenience store, sports where rules are clearly laid out.

•       Australian

•       Dutch

•       English Canadian

•       English

•       Finnish

•       German

•       Hebrews/Jews

•       New Zealand

•       Scandinavia

•       Switzerland

•       United States

Low Context Culture


•       Rule oriented, people play by external rules

•       More knowledge is codified, public, external, and accessible.

•       Sequencing, separation–of time, of space, of activities, of relationships

•       More interpersonal connections of shorter duration

•       Knowledge is more often transferable

•       Task-centered. Decisions and activities focus around what needs to be done, division of responsibilities.


Opening a meeting

Blocks to Cultural Communication      

     1. Ethnocentrism : Inability to accept another culture’s world view;

       “my way is the best.”


     2. Discrimination : Differential treatment of an individual due to

         minority status; actual and perceived;

       e.g., “we just aren’t equipped to .Serve people like that.”


     3. Stereotyping : Generalizing about a person while ignoring presence of individual difference;

       e.g., “she’s like that because she’s Asian – all Asians are nonverbal.”


     4.Cultural Blindness: Differences are ignored and one proceeds as

         though differences did not exist; e.g., “there’s no need to worry about a

         person’s culture


     5.Cultural Imposition: Belief that everyone should conform to the

         majority; e.g., “we know what’s best for you, if you don’t like it you can

         go elsewhere.”


     6.Tone Difference : Formal tone change becomes embarrassing and off-putting in some cultures.

Pre-cautions in Cultural Communication

•                               Slow Down

•                               Separate Questions

•                               Avoid Negative Questions

•                               Take Turns

•                               Write it down

•                               Be Supportive

•                               Maintain Etiquette

Skills To Overcome Differences

ØRespecting Differences and Working Together


ØBuilding Trust Across Cultural Boundaries


ØUnderstanding Body Language


ØConnecting with people

“For a German and a Finn, the truth is the truth.

In Japan and Britain it is all right if it doesn’t rock

the boat. In China there is no absolute truth. In

Italy it is negotiable.”

                                               Richard D. Lewis

Time to play cross cultural quiz.

In Saudi Arabia, which is considered a popular gesture of friendship between men?

In Saudi Arabia, which is considered a popular gesture of friendship between men?

In Great Britain, tapping your nose indicates that something is:

In Great Britain, tapping your nose indicates that something is:


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