There she stood at my doorstep with an agenda and pen in hands…
A couple of months back the mother of an acquaintance had moved into the house across the street. During a chanced meeting, she told me how she missed sitting in the sun the garden, since her garden was North facing.
On the other hand my garden is on the South side and catches the full warmth of the sunlight the whole day on a sunny day.
So I invited her to pop in anytime the sun was out and she wanted to in my garden. And since I work from home, she would never stand before a locked door. I also added that I am usually inside the house, so the garden could be all hers with coffee on the house.
Planning the sun
After a couple of days there she stood at my front doorstep with an agenda in hand. Wanting to make an appointment when she could come over to sit in my garden.
When I pointed out to her that we could plan a day in advance, but I could not guarantee that it would be a sunny day, “I cannot plan the sun..” I said. Which made her realise just how absurd it was indeed to plan the sun!
But hey, if you are form a culture where your life revolves around the agenda and you know no better, then your cultural habits are bound to be mostly on automatic pilot. So it was very normal and automatic that the lady grabbed her agenda without a second thought, since her cultural habits was on automatic pilot.
What I am trying to point out is that everyone has their own cultural habits that dominate their day to day lives and it is mostly on ‘auto pilot’. So when you are interacting with other cultures be it at work or just everyday life you have to be aware of what your ‘normal cultural habits’ are and when or in which situations your automatic buttons gets pushed.
Them vs you
In other words working effectively with other cultures is not about ‘how to deal with them’ but it is all about ‘you’, what is your cultural values that are important to you. The values that are on ‘auto pilot’. Being aware of these values and when and why you are using it at a given moment is where you should start in order to have an effective intercultural interaction.
The next time you are in interaction with people from other cultures try and be aware of your subtle cultural habits that are on ‘auto pilot’ and how it effects the situation.
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