What do you think about cultural differences

Cultural differences


1 Cultural differences Introductory The entire world population can be roughly divided into two groups, namely into the cold climatic cultures (North America, Northern Europe, today's Israel,) and into the hot climatic cultures (South America, Asian, Near and Middle East, Southern Europe). Please note: The earlier culture (and also the biblical one) was rather hot climatic. Only through industrialization and the structuring of time did the cold-climatic culture develop. But many are not aware of this. On the contrary, we all always tend to assume that everyone else thinks, feels, communicates and is culturally shaped in the same way as we are. In other words, we assume that the other speaks the same language as us. Well, we could just learn the other's cultural language (or they could learn ours) and that's good. But the fact is: a lot in communication takes place on the emotional and relationship level. I associate certain signs, words, gestures with certain memories, feelings and with my conscience. Example: Even if the middle finger is a good sign in another culture, at first I have a guilty conscience about using it. Or the other way around, if I also know that the middle finger is a good sign, it hurts me every time it is shown to me. Example 2: In other cultures there is much more physical contact. Even if it would do my foreign friend good, I find it very difficult to get too close to him and to seek constant physical contact. If I notice my own emotions here, then I can let the other person stand and understand other things, which in turn are not a problem for me or cause bad feelings ... does not want to tell the truth in my face or he is ashamed of something that is so normal for me. So the point is not that we necessarily have to adapt and that is exactly how we become refugees. Rather, knowing the differences in cultures helps us to get to know the other and to understand why the other thinks, feels and acts in this way. So here are a few examples:

2 Cultural Differences Relationship vs. Performance In a hot climate culture, words are used to create atmosphere. Their lexical meaning is not half as important as the familiarity that is to be established. (Everywhere at home, p. 25) In the hot climate culture, a feel-good atmosphere is first created before one gets to the business, to the real thing. Conversation is not about exchanging information, but about showing affection and creating an atmosphere in which everyone involved feels comfortable. (E.g. for questions like what does my hairstyle look like, what do you think of my suggestion, etc.) In hot climate cultures, the pure truth must never lead to endangering the relationship. In cold climate cultures, on the other hand, information and feelings are separated and therefore the relationship is not so jeopardized. A concise answer can be very appropriate with us and even express respect, as one e.g. does not want to steal the time. In hot climate cultures, a brief answer is seen as disruptive and negative. There it is frowned upon to get straight to the point at an appointment or a deal. Direct or indirect communication In relationship-oriented societies, flowery speech should not only prevent insults and create a feel-good atmosphere, but also always pursue the concern of presenting one's own position somewhat vaguely so as not to impose it on the other. The member of a cold climate culture for whom accuracy counts, on the other hand, will get straight to the point. Every question is answered as accurately and truthfully as possible. (Everywhere at Home, p. 29) Illustration. German Bible discussion groups are completely incomprehensible to my Asian wife. Why do you keep disturbing the relationship and trying to impose your own position on the other? Are we and our opinions so much more important than peace and relationship? Illustration. My wife asks me while driving: Do you have to go to the toilet? Then I often say that I can still hold out and drive on comfortably. What she really wanted to say is that she urgently needs to go to the bathroom herself. In the Orient, ask directly for the post office and the person asked will give you directions even if he doesn't know the way. He doesn't want to offend you. Indirectly, one would ask more like this: Could you ask the man there for me if he could please describe the way to the post office for me? Then the person asked (if he does not know the way himself) could ask the man and answer without being impolite, the other person does not know. Or he can answer you directly if he knows the way himself. This is also the case when we ask the asylum seeker for his impression of Germany or his experience. It is sometimes more appropriate to ask him to share the opinion and experience of his compatriots. This allows him to speak freely and openly without being rude because it is the opinions of his compatriots and not his own. The fact that he is naturally part of his compatriots gives him the opportunity to let his own frustration flow into it.

3 We Germans usually ask direct questions and expect direct answers. In the case of asylum seekers, we therefore usually get a positive answer that does not necessarily correspond to the emotions of the person asked, but that does not offend us. In order to get more precise answers, it is far better to ask more indirectly or even to get the answer through a third party. For residents of the cold climate zone, this cumbersome procedure is downright ridiculous. Why can't these people just say what they mean? Why is your no not a no and your yes not a yes? The answer is here again: First and foremost, it is about a good atmosphere and commitment, but not about the exchange of information. (Everywhere at home, p. 33) Collectivism vs. Individualism Individualism is a system of thoughts and values ​​in which the individual is the focus of consideration and values. On the other hand, individualism, especially in everyday language use, also describes a personal attitude of mind in which decisions and opinions are sought as independently as possible, regardless of whether they conform to the social context or not. Characteristics such as moral courage, independent and astute thinking, etc. are often ascribed to the individualists, but on the other hand also obstinacy and poor teamwork. The basic idea of ​​individualism is an idea of ​​liberation. The liberation of the individual from too many constraints is perceived as pleasant, the collective as obstructive and restrictive. Another justification for individualism is given by economic efficiency. The western individualistic system is obviously the most efficient on earth. With this argument, general prosperity is viewed as the result of many selfishness. Individualism has expanded in the western world as never before in history. Thus the West stands in opposition to its own traditions, which were non-individualistic, but especially to all other cultures. With regard to a value system, individualism focuses on subordinating common goals in favor of personal ambitions and emphasizes not only autonomy and personal responsibility, but also competition and competence thinking. With regard to individualism in Western cultures, special reference is made to the last aspects. Individualism is also already reflected in the forms of upbringing of the respective cultures, in which children are generally brought up to be independent at an early age. For example, toddlers in more western cultures usually sleep alone in a separate room, while in more collectivist societies they often sleep with their parents or mother. Collectivism is understood to be a system of values ​​and morals in which the welfare of the collective has the highest priority. The interests of the individual are subordinated to those of the group. (Wikipedia)

4 investigation. Test subjects are presented with several pens. All but one pens look exactly the same, but one pen has a noticeably different color. Around 65% of Asians choose one of the pens of the same color. Americans choose a single differently colored pen to a significantly greater extent. An African proverb says: "The nail that protrudes is hammered into the board" - because in this collectivist society, the group as a whole is in the foreground and is more important than the self-realization of the individual group members. In the cold climate culture you tell the child: You are an independent person, so learn to think for yourself. "In the hot climate culture, one impresses on the child: You belong. You belong to your family. (Say of a tribe in New Zealand : You belong, therefore you are.) Everyone has a sense of togetherness and finds their identity in the group. Not what you have and can do, but who you know and to whom you belong is important. But that also means: What you do, affects everyone. Behave yourself in such a way that you do not disgrace your family. The thinking and worldview of the individual is: I am part of the whole. That means that the wishes and thoughts of the individual are not important and not worth mentioning means, for example, that you don't think too much about variety of tastes. My taste is not important, but respect for hospitality. When we were preparing a group of young Americans for a trip to a third world country, one of the participants asked: But what do we do if we don't like the food? I replied: You eat it up. The good relationship with the host is at stake. Eating up means accepting hospitality, and that is more valuable than the feeling of wellbeing on the tongue. The individualistic person is used to deciding what he likes and what not. In collectivist cultures this freedom doesn't mean much. Nobody would wonder whether they like the food. You eat because it makes you feel full and you are happy because you are served so nicely. (Everywhere at home, p. 44) This also has an effect at events or meetings. We Germans reflect our own opinion, people from the hot climate culture tend to reflect the consensus of the group. As a result, the relationship becomes unbalanced very quickly, because the German's opinion may be the only one, or maybe 2-3, but the other's opinion may be the attitude of a great many. If this is not recognized, then the other group can hardly prevail. This also means that there is often hardly any initiative, because you don't want to attract attention. The leader determines the team and the others follow. This is how you learned it from childhood and you have relied on the group to think and decide for you .... Of course, it is unusual when someone from a collectivist environment ends up in an individualistic society. Suddenly being on your own means first of all coping with the greatest loneliness. And some are completely overwhelmed when they unexpectedly have to incorporate their personal opinion into decisions and are forced to act on their own initiative. (At Home Everywhere, p. 48)

5 Excluded vs. Included In many cultures, everyone is involved in (almost) everything, be it food, entertainment or even marital disputes. In Cameroon e.g. the couple takes to the streets to loudly fight the argument and to give the neighbors the opportunity to participate in the discussion and the solution. In the individualistic society, privacy has a far higher priority. Privacy is respected and it is considered impolite to invade it without asking, e.g. sit down or join in a conversation. Private conversations and appointments can therefore be expanded at any time, e.g. To join friends. In inclusive culture, you share your meal with everyone, even if it's just a snack that isn't enough for everyone. Because it's not about getting full, but rather that we all feel included. A Japanese proverb goes: even if you only have one pea, you share it as often as there are people in the room. In inclusive cultures, all possessions belong to everyone. Everything can be used and everything is free for others to use. Hospitality In hot climate cultures, being able to practice hospitality is a privilege and is considered very important. You even expect the other to use the hospitality and drop by spontaneously ... and of course offer the same hospitality from his / her side. In the hot climate cultures, hospitality means providing a guest with comprehensive hospitality. As a matter of course, the host takes responsibility for ensuring that the visitor feels completely at ease. It is housed, plenty of food is served and entertainment is provided. If you spend the night under someone else's roof, you shouldn't miss anything .... If someone in the hot climate zone says: Come on, let's have a quick hamburger, the unspoken addition is: ... and you are of course invited . (Everywhere at home, p. 69) When we visited a Korean family in Bonn, the man not only brought us to the door or to the car, but also walked ahead of us through the residential area to the main street. For him it was the natural gesture of hospitality and courtesy.

6 Time vs. event orientation For hot climate cultures we Germans are slaves to the clock. It is not the person and the encounter with the person that determine, but the clock. The clock is the clock of life. Cold climate cultures are performance-oriented and time is the basis on which performance is provided. In hot climate cultures one is more event-oriented. When I wanted to visit a couple in Lebanon, they were already wearing their coats and were about to leave. Of course, they sat down with me again and talked to me for another hour. In Asian countries, the sense of time is more oriented towards the past (ancestors, values). In Latin American countries and southern European countries, the sense of time is more oriented towards the present and in Western Europe and North America more towards the future (achieving goals). Author: Johannes Schulte Originally published: 2005