Here’s a personal take on developing cultural awareness.
Looking Another Culture in the Eye
I was born and raised in Minnesota, but as an adult I have mostly lived in Europe and Africa. I teach cross-cultural management at the international business school Insead, near Paris. For the last 15 years, I’ve studied how people in different parts of the world build trust, communicate, make decisions and perceive situations differently, especially in the workplace.
While it would be nice to think that I now know it all, a recent experience reminded me that no matter how much I learn about the world’s various cultures, there will always be more to discover.
While traveling in Tokyo recently with a Japanese colleague, I gave a short talk to a group of 20 managers. At the end, I asked whether there were any questions or comments. No hands went up, so I went to sit down. My colleague whispered to me: “I think there actually were some comments, Erin. Do you mind if I try?” He asked the group again: “Any comments or questions?”