Executive Position Job Order  |  Executive Candidate Registration
Global Executive Search Recruiting Firm

Team-Building: Understanding and Embracing Differences In Culture
- Executive Leadership Articles

RMA - Global Executive Search Recruiting Firm Solutions - Executive Search Recruiting Solutions Career Center - Executive Search Resources For Employers & Job Seekers Employers & Hiring Professionals - RMA Is Your Source For Top Executive Candidates Job Seekers & Executive Candidates - Your New Career Begins Here! Industry Expertise - Executive Search Recruiting Expertise In 30 Industries Company - Over 20 Years of Executive Search Recruiting Experience News & Articles - Executive Search Recruiting News & Articles Contact RMA - The Trusted Executive Search Recruiting Firm
Your Source For Top Executive Candidates
News & Articles »
News & Articles
Executive Search Firm News
Executive Leadership Articles
Follow RMA On Google+
Follow RMA On Facebook
Follow RMA On Twitter
News & Articles - Executive Search Recruiting News & Articles
Team-Building: Understanding and Embracing Differences In Culture - Executive Leadership Articles

Team-Building: Understanding and Embracing Differences In Culture

Executive Leadership Articles

Team-Building: Understanding and Embracing Differences In Culture

I insist you have a snack

At an all-day training session presented by a national expert, the speaker urged participants to help themselves to the snack table at the back of the room, which had remained untouched throughout the sign-in and seat-taking. When still nobody moved, she said to her audience, “It’s interesting to see the way groups respond to the snack table in different parts of the country. Here in Hawaii and in the Midwest, nobody wants to be the first person to get a snack, and everyone needs to be invited multiple times. In the Northeast, nobody waits for an invitation and you have to keep an eye out for people loading up extra bags to take home! On the West Coast, I always have to answer questions about the source of the food and whether anything is vegan or gluten-free.”

It was meant to be a joke to loosen up the crowd, and it had the desired effect, but it also reminded attendees that cultures, including geographic and ethnic cultures, influence the way we interact with one another. In some Asian cultures, when a host offers a snack or drink, the guests almost always politely decline, even if they really would like something to nibble on. The host then asks again, and the guests decline again. When the host offers a third time, the guests will then say something like, “Well, if you’re sure it’s no trouble--.” The guests may never actually say they want a snack, but here the host will insist on providing one if he doesn’t receive another actual refusal.

When I said no I meant yes

To many in western cultures, it’s a bizarre ritual. In most of America, if the host offers a snack and the guests decline, the host takes them at their word and may not offer again. When you connect one kind of host with another kind of guest, you can get all kinds of social awkwardness and possible misunderstanding.

This is a very specific example but it has broad implications in the workplace. Some people may be direct in offering constructive criticism or when asking questions about work. They expect the same in return. Others who were raised differently may consider this a rude way to interact.

Adjusting ourselves vs. changing others

One way to address cultural differences in social and professional interactions is to set the expectation and ask that everyone stick to it. This approach to defining company culture can work if it makes team members feel safe, but it doesn’t do much for establishing diversity. A more painful and time-consuming approach celebrates differences. If person A is more direct but person B more tactful, why can’t person B accept and understand that person A’s directness isn’t meant to be impolite, and why can’t person A accept that person B’s subtlety isn’t meekness? There’s no reason. In our social circles, we accept such differences all the time without even thinking about it. Frank is very careful before make decisions. Marla has difficulty showing up on time. Lisa won’t eat meat. None of these differences is likely to end a friendship or split up a group, because a group of friends values the individuals who comprise it.

Further, these differences in personality aren’t merely something to be tolerated; they’re usually part of the person, something to be celebrated and valued. They may make things difficult at times, but valuing the friendship overrides occasional inconveniences.

Valuing diversity

There are people in your office who seem to get along well with everyone. Is it because nothing bothers them? More likely, it’s because they’ve learned to meet other people wherever they are and adjust their working styles to be compatible with different colleagues. It’s partially a survival skill, sure, but it also comes from a willingness to appreciate people’s differences. As a leader, you’ve probably already learned most of this: you can’t lead everyone the same way. Similarly, perhaps co-workers cannot work with each other the same way. Nurturing an office culture of inclusion can go a long way toward strengthening your team with all the benefits of a diverse workplace.


RMA® Executive Search Recruiting Firm Locations:

United States & Canada:   Europe, Asia & Pacific:
  • Bangkok, Thailand
  • Beijing, China
  • Berlin, Germany
  • Hong Kong, China
  • Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • London, England
  • Madrid, Spain
  • Melbourne, Australia
  • Moscow, Russia
  • Mumbai, India
  • New Delhi, India
  • Paris, France
  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • Rome, Italy
  • Stockholm, Sweden
  • Sydney, Australia
  • Tokyo, Japan
  • Vienna, Austria
  • Wellington, New Zealand
  • Zurich, Switzerland

Team-Building: Understanding and Embracing Differences In Culture - Executive Leadership Articles

RMA Executive Search Recruiting Firm  /  News & Articles  /  Articles  /  Team-Building: Understanding and Embracing Differences In Culture

Start at the Career Center

News & Articles Links: