Cross-cultural aware-what?

Most people grow up among others who have similar patterns of behaviour, concepts of what’s polite and what isn’t. You don’t need to wonder about whether a five-minute delay requires an apology, is an acceptable time or is even early. You know the traditions on holidays, when to give a gift and when not, how to address others and whether to greet someone with a bow, a handshake or a cheek kiss. In short – you know the rules, and everyone around you plays according to the same rules. When you go on vacation, you might chuckle about the behaviour of the locals or utter in frustration “That’s so typical for the British/Italians/French…!”

Many people can get through their whole life like this, never having to think about the rules because they always live in cultural surroundings they know. More and more people however spend some years of their lives in other countries or even move there permanently. Others travel abroad for business or work in international teams. Chances are, if you are one of those people, you at one time thought, “Whoa, they’re playing by different rules! And I don’t know them!” And there you are, right in the middle of the wide field of cross-cultural awareness. Continue reading “Cross-cultural aware-what?”