Let's face it Boston, we live in a multi-cultural society. To succeed in today's workforce you need to know how important of a role culture plays and how to work well with other cultures. I have my Master's degree in Intercultural Relations and I would like to share with you some knowledge I have learned. One's own culture effects everything; from the rate of which you speak, the tone with which you speak, personal space, eye-contact, and of course the way you dress, to name a few examples. Although you may not think so, when you are having problems with a co-worker there is a good chance it could be related to a cultural misunderstanding. So learning about your co-worker's culture and the way their culture handles their interactions can make a more productive, and enjoyable workforce. Take an example from me who grew up in the Mid-West, adjusted to the East coast life-style, with a boss whom is Chinese, and my boss's supervisor is Jamaican.
Now I can go into the complexities of each culture and give you a few examples from which to derive a basic understanding of intercultural relations, or I can let this brand new website, http://www.culturecrossing.net/, do it for me. I really like that it tries to show you the basics of every countries way of interacting with people, whether it be for business or for pleasure. For example in America we tend to favor direct eye contact, while in Japan, indirect eye contact is preferred. If both people do not realize this subtle preference of eye contact then the other person would be perceived as unacceptable to work with and more than likely nothing would get accomplished.
A word of caution though, please take what it says on this website as a basic form of explaining cultural differences. This website explains intercultural relations in generalities, not taking into consideration the context of the situation, which can create varied differences from those listed on the website. If you would like to learn more in detail about specific cultures, please go check your local library or bookstore. There have been countless books written about perceived cultural differences.
I asked my Chinese boss on what she thought of what this website says about China, and she agreed with me that it works well as the basics of the culture but it does not go into the depth of explaining cultural differences. It also brought on a dialogue of what cultural distinctions she found difficult to adjust to when she moved here to America. I am glad I asked her about this website, because it gave us a chance to learn something new about each other. So at the very least, this website creates a chance to have an open dialogue with co-workers, which can only help alleviate cultural misunderstandings.