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Nov. 26th, 2006

Hi! Have you ever faced the difficulties caused by differences in cultures? Was there smth that impressed you a lot when communicating with other nations?

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( 11 said — say )
loreeley
Nov. 26th, 2006 12:57 pm (UTC)
Your question is very broad so it's hard to really give a concrete answer I think. Every situation is different, every culture is different, etc

But I'd say the main thing is to listen and show that you are interested to know more and really communicate. We all make mistakes or put our foot in it at times, but if people know you did not mean to offend and are just from a different place where things are different, usually it's okay.

I also think it is important to recognise prejudices and misconceptions that may exist on both sides, and act according to minimise them. One thing I sometimes do is to say "I often hear people say this-and-that about that-and-the other. Why do you think that is?", which goes down well because it recognises that there is a prejudice and names it, but without making it a true or blaming anyone, and it gives the opportunity to talk. Or the other way around, when I feel that people have prejudices about me, I express that by saying how it makes me feel, thus stating my point of view rather than accusing the person. Example: my boyfriend is black African and I'm white European, we met in Africa. A few times he would say "you europeans don't understand that..." or "you europeans are like..." and it always made me feel bad, until one day I told him to please stop. At first he got defensive and said I am too sensitive, but then I explained that it makes me sad because a) I feel like he is putting me in the same basket as all the other Europeans, including people who have done very bad things, and b) it makes me feel like I have something to prove to him and that is not nice when you are in a loving relationship. If I had said something like "oh stop making generalisations!!" we would probably have argued and ended up both feeling bad - he feeling I am accusing him of something he is not, and me feeling that he is not taking my feelings into account the way a boyfriend should -, but by saying that this how I feel because of this-and-that, it gave us the opportunity to not only solve the problem, but also think/talk about the way we as a society say things and share something personal as a couple. Sometimes (often) people do not realise that they are being hurtful, because all their lives they have heard prejudicial comments and they just become part of common language or common thinking.

I don't know if that answers your question at all.
voy_adelante
Nov. 26th, 2006 05:00 pm (UTC)
thank you much for your answer!
loreeley
Nov. 26th, 2006 05:06 pm (UTC)
Did it actually answer your question?
voy_adelante
Nov. 26th, 2006 05:29 pm (UTC)
not exactly, but gave me new ideas about that
loreeley
Nov. 26th, 2006 05:35 pm (UTC)
Do you mind sharing what the question was, as I'm not sure I really understood it.
voy_adelante
Nov. 26th, 2006 06:47 pm (UTC)
Acctually, what I meant was the differences in mentality, like for instance, Chinese are very devoted to their CEOs, they never take initiative. Spanish are very friendly and open... Smth like this, but I asked for situations when it stumped someone
crazykellysexy
Nov. 26th, 2006 10:06 pm (UTC)
God, yes I faced a lot of difficulties in South Africa. I'm still swallowing it all right now, actually, so I will write about it later... Unless you want to make it easier on me and ask a more specific question!
voy_adelante
Nov. 26th, 2006 10:57 pm (UTC)
Well, I would say I'm interested in everything you could tell me as I am writing a report about different cultures and real life information (not the prejudices decribed in every book) would be very useful! thank you much!
thorny_rose
Nov. 27th, 2006 02:17 am (UTC)
Yes, that's why I didn't answer right away...a little vague on what you were looking for.
thorny_rose
Nov. 28th, 2006 01:11 am (UTC)
Acctually, what I meant was the differences in mentality, like for instance, Chinese are very devoted to their CEOs, they never take initiative. Spanish are very friendly and open...
Those kinds of statements are just generalizations and stereotypes for the most part, so I should hope you are looking for personal experiences. Thast said, here's one:

I met a very good looking young man when I visited a Ryokan where I had stayed for a long period of time 3 years ago. We had tea and talked and exchanged info. I went back there a month ago to see him, but he wasn't there at the time, so one of the staff called him for me and we had another nice conversation - during which he said very sweet things about my appearance in a photo I sent earlier to the Ryokan. Later on, I emailed him in hopes of staying in touch, but in his emails, he came across as a little more forward and flirty than our relationship warrants. That, and in a promo video, I saw that he wore a wedding band. Before there was any more chance for misunderstandings, I asked him if he was married. He said yes (and with THREE little BOYS - yikes, right?) and then I told him that his English was...well...easily misinterpreted. He was glad I said so and now tries to be less aggressive with his invitations.

That was a strange instance for me because generally, you'd expect Japanese people to be coy and wishywashy, but sometimes, especially when they speak in a second language, their choice of words can be the total opposite - that doesn't mean he's NOT a little shy or not polite - that's just how he knows how to communicate. Another example: friend of mine would say to her husband in Japanese "sawaranaide", but in English, she says "don't touch me," which is the same idea, but sounds much more harsh.
takemeupandaway
Dec. 28th, 2006 02:20 am (UTC)
Impressed
There's so much to be impressed about when learning about other cultures. My friends in Latvia taught me all about how they celebrate "name days", I thought that was really neat...even though they don't have a day for my name :p
( 11 said — say )

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