Consider Cultural Differences


I’m in the Middle East and thinking about different communication styles and patterns. By comparison to many other cultures, Americans, along with many northern European cultures, and more direct and explicit. We may not hesitate to begin discussing business matters relatively quickly, and we may look to have arrangements made efficiently and specifically.

Mediterranean cultures, by comparison, slow down the process by establishing trust through personal relationships and social interactions. Planning and negotiating are slower and more ritualistic. Many Asian cultures slow down the process even further.

1. Consider what is realistic to have happen in the first few conversations or meetings given the routines of the culture.

2. Think about your credibility. Does this culture value rank or title? Age? Gender? Do you have goodwill credibility?

3. How direct or indirect should you be? If you are too direct, you may come across as abrupt or demanding and spoil the relationship.

It’s relaxing and very pleasant to socialize at the start of a relationship, and makes for a nice experience. This is an example of a time when it feels good not to push an agenda too soon, for as inefficient as it may feel.

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