Everyday at work I interact with Frenchs, Thais, Americans, English, Indians,… co-workers. And communication issues are common. I already experienced misunderstanding beween French and Thai similar to the example below related by Erin Meyer from HBR Blog that involves French and Indonesians:
Here’s what an Indonesian interviewee told me:
In the Indonesian cultural context, confrontation is considered rude, aggressive, and disrespectful. Open disagreement, particularly in a group forum, is strongly avoided. Even asking another’s point of view can feel confrontational in our culture. We had a meeting with a group of French managers from headquarters, where they went around the table asking each of us: “What do you think about this? What do you think about this? What do you think about this?” At first we were just shocked that we would be put on the spot in a meeting with a lot of people. That is just an insult!
And here’s what a French executive said (making the American way described by Lencioni sound really quite moderate):
Confrontation is part of French culture. The French school system teaches us to first build up our thesis (one side of the argument) and then to build up our anti-thesis (the opposite side of the argument) before coming to a synthesis (conclusion). And this is exactly how we intuitively conduct meetings. On French teams conflict and dissonance are seen as revealing hidden contradiction and stimulating new thinking. We make our points passionately. We like to disagree openly. We like to say things that shock. And afterwards we feel that was a great meeting and say, “See you next time!” With confrontation you reach excellence, you have more creativity, and you eliminate risk.
Here is the link HBR Blog:
The HBR blog post is also referenced abd discussed in GigaOM Blog:
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