Culture can be seen as a super set of accepted norms in a society/country /region based on various parameters that influence life.
It is said that in India, dialect, culture and food habits change every 100 kilometers. You may find a similar scenario in other countries as well.
First of all, different cultures are not difficult cultures. For reasons of historic importance, cultures have come into existence independently and almost involuntarily. Culture can be seen as a super set of accepted norms in a society/country/region based on various parameters that influence life.
So, there is good reason to respect different cultures and not try to dissolve or deny them for a specific business or a personal relationship.
However, there is still an unresolved issue of how to deal with culture in different geographies.
Let’s think of a culture neutral scenario. Let’s define culture neutral as a state that we assume in business or personal relationship, where two parties want to deal with each other. It’s not a ‘my way or the highway’ thing.
A few basic tips for creating a culture neutral state:
It should at least be clear what is expected of a collaboration involving
different cultures. This can be business expansion, growth, personal relation
or a new business idea. This is the component that will create the basic
‘click’ in the relationship.
Easier said than done. There needs to be a basic level of trust between
parties on aspects such as, opportunities, possibilities and willingness. This
keeps things moving forward.
When beginning a relationship, the understanding should be in a formal
contract, with due legal applicability.
Language is not a barrier for communication, but an enabler. Finding ways
and means of communicating when needed is an essential step-in understanding each other.
Seeking lighter moments to share a joke or two is never a bad idea.We can create a culture neutral state by adopting mutually agreed upon norms. This can also be described as a new culture that sets the base for a relationship. Such a state should be able to handle what we often refer to as ‘business as usual’.
Don’t try to do things that you are not used to. Focus on following common
norms and make use of them for normal and usual business behavior.
Offer and expect objective feedback on process and results instead of being
critical of people’s behavior. Humans can and do adapt. It’s best to behave in a normal fashion than attempting to do something we are not used to. Collaboration is beneficial to every member, so there is no reason to assume or imagine that possessing more power in a relationship gives an advantage.
A different culture is not a difficult culture. Focus on competency compatibility rather than cultural compatibility so that time and energy is well spent focusing on things that yield substantial business benefits.