Mahatma Gandhi…
 “I do not want my house to be
walled in on all sides and my
windows to be stuffed. I want
the cultures of all the lands to
be blown about my house as
freely as possible. But, I refuse
to be blown off my feet by any.”
 What do we understand by
 CULTURE: The ideas, customs and social behaviour of a particular
people or society. It influences peoples’ views, their values, their
humour, their hopes, their loyalties and their worries and fears.
 It is what we grow up in…beginning in childhood, we learn the
behaviours, habits, and attitudes that are acceptable to those around
us. These are transmitted to us verbally, non verbally and in writing.
As time goes on, we gradually acquire the knowledge, beliefs, values,
customs & moral attitudes of the society in which we mature. A body
of common understanding develops with which we feel comfortable.
 We know what to expect – and what is expected of us !!!
 It includes all the systems we are exposed to; such
 Religious, economic, political, recreational,
standards of etiquette, grooming and dress, the
way food is prepared and served, the gift-giving
customs, the morals, the legal, the quality and
quantity of communication between people, the
greeting practices, the rituals performed, the modes
of travel available, as well as many other aspects of
people’s lives, that they take for granted…
 Share the cultural differences you have
noticed …
Cross Cultural Sensitivity
 Cross Cultural Sensitivity: is the knowledge,
awareness and acceptance of other cultures.
 Cultural Sensitivity is being aware of the cultural
differences and similarities that exist between people
without assigning them a value…such as – positive or
negative, better or worse, right or wrong !
 Cross-cultural communication looks at how people
from differing cultural backgrounds communicate…in
similar and different ways among themselves…
Therefore, when working with people and building
relationships with them, it is critical to have some
perspective and understanding of their culture
The Japanese employee vs. the USA one…
Culture Awareness…
Culture Awareness: is knowing that there are
multiple different cultures…based on:
 Religion
 Nationality
 Language
 Beliefs … to name a few…
Resulting in different outlooks and attitudes.
Cultural sensitivity is needed to be taught…
Festival of the Dead in Mexico !
Cultural differences…
 Culture causes behaviour and
personality differences like body
language, thinking, communication,
manners, norms, etc. which leads to
 For example, in some cultures, eye
contact is important and signifies
confidence and trustworthiness –
whereas in other cultures, it is
considered rude and disrespectful –
people can misunderstand each other
based on their own perceptions which
have been caused by their culture.
Should you learn the language…
 For short stays in a foreign country – English will
work, or else an interpreter (whose loyalty and ability
is tested) can help – for building successful
relationships for business
 Familiarity with the local language enables
familiarity with the culture, values, traditions and
business practices
 Some people learn only specific statements that are
common or pertinent to a particular setting…caution
– the same word can mean several things – with just
the tone of the voice varying to change meanings
 Sometimes, a little knowledge can be more damaging
than no knowledge…
Some interpretational disasters…
 PEPSI’s slogan, ‘Come alive with
Pepsi’ translated in German reads
as – ‘Come alive from the grave with
Pepsi’ !
 GM’s ‘Body by Fisher’ became
‘Corpse by Fisher’ in Flemish
 Chevrolet’s Nova – in Spanish
means ‘No Go’ !
 Ford’s truck called the Fiera, in
Spanish means – ‘the ugly old
woman’ !
Non Verbal Sensitivity…
 Interpretations of
greetings, dress, space,
touch, posture, gestures,
and rituals vary widely
among cultures…
 Business deals have been
lost over a seemingly
harmless American
signal that was
interpreted as a grave
insult in another part of
the world !
Non Verbal Sensitivity…
 Never refuse an offer of coffee from a
businessman in Kuwait
 Be very careful not to cross your legs so
that the sole of your foot points to
someone in Thailand
 Remove your jacket and work in
shirtsleeves in Japan, only when our
Japanese colleagues do that first
 Never help yourself to food when you
are the ‘Guest of Honour’ at a banquet
in China
Non Verbal Sensitivity…
 Do not offer your host gifts for
his wife or children when doing
business in Saudi Arabia
 Plan to spend about two hours
on lunch in France
 Do not get irritated if you find
yourself waiting for half an hour
or more for an appointment with
a business person from
Greetings …
 The form of greeting will differ from
culture to culture. The handshake is
a fairly standard greeting in most
parts of the world – but the pressure
used will differ…the American highpressure grip suggesting warmth
and confidence, may be too
aggressive where a lighter grip is on.
 In Japan, the bow is still used by
older businesspeople. Sometimes
both the bow and handshake will be
used to signal respect for both the
Greetings …Business Cards…
 The business card’s handing over in
Japan – is done with both hands –
with the information facing the
 Also, they are never put away hastily
or scribbled on, but studied carefully
and then arranged on the table
during the meeting.
 In any non-English speaking country,
printing the information on the
reverse side of the business card in a
second language is a courteous
Dress …
 Business suits are considered
acceptable attire for a meeting in
most parts of the world. But, it may
or may not be acceptable for an
evening of entertainment.
 For men, in tropical climates, a
loose cotton shirt worn over a pair of
slacks is considered acceptable at
even formal occasions.
 Bare legs, arms, shoulders, or heads
on the streets or in holy buildings
are considered offensive in many
Arab & Eastern countries.
Space, Touch & Posture …
 Americans have a ‘spatial bubble’ of
up to 4 feet into which strangers
should not encroach.
 In Arab countries and Latin
America, people speak almost face to
face and nose to nose. It is said
that an Arab wants to be close
enough to smell your breath and
body odour when he communicates
with you.
 In other countries smelling each
other is avoided at all costs !
Space, Touch & Posture …
 In Iran, Palestine, China &
Indonesia, for example, it is
considered acceptable for
two men to be walking
down the street holding
hands as a sign of close
 However, it is not
acceptable for a man and
woman to do the same !
This ‘immodest’ display of
affection is frowned upon !
Space, Touch & Posture …
 In Thailand, the head is
considered ‘sacred’ ! It
should NEVER be touched
and objects should never be
passed above it.
 In Tonga – in the South
Pacific Ocean, touching
someone’s head could get
you the DEATH penalty !
 In Muslim countries
showing the sole of your
shoe is considered insulting
the person in front of you.
Gestures …
 In Siberia, Iran & Sri Lanka, nodding the head
up and down means ‘no’
 In Italy, Greece & some African countries, the
gesture Americans use for ‘come here’ means
 The ‘thumbs up’ gesture means ‘everything is
good’ in the USA – but to Australians, it is an
 The ‘V-for-Victory- sign means something entirely
different when reversed, with the palm facing the
signer. In Britain, it then becomes an insult.
 In Ethopia, pointing the one-finger ‘come here’
gesture is used only with children and dogs…
Food …
 Perhaps, we become most aware of cultural diversity
when we discuss food – used to celebrate special
occasions – how the food is eaten, even what is
considered edible ! Dimapur – Dogs !
 Every traveller has tales of ‘exotic’ meals,
accompanied by value judgements !
 Hosts will want visitors to experience the culinary
delights that bring their taste buds so much
pleasure .. their national dining treasures ! It is
hard for them to imagine or understand that these
same treats might bring forth horror and revulsion
in someone not experienced with them…
Food …
 Be prepared to be offered as a
special guest at a banquet in Saudi
Arabia – sheep’s eyes
 A roasted gorilla hand in a part in
 Or a live fish brought to the table &
carved in Japan
 While people may be reluctant to try
such dishes, it would be extremely
rude to refuse !
 Italians and Japanese, do not eat on
the street, or while standing…many
others do !
Gifts …
 Anti-bribery laws can be a source of
competitive disadvantage, when in some
countries, gifts, fees, commissions and
‘facilitation payments’ to officials are
normal practice – and where other
countries competing for lucrative
business contracts do not have any antibribery restrictions
 Gift-giving practices vary widely
throughout the world. Common and
expected in some countries, but frowned
upon in others
Gifts …
 Gift-giving is important in Japan; Considered
inappropriate in Germany, U.K. & Belgium
 Tipping for good service practiced in US – but, not
expected in China, Denmark, Italy & France
 If invited to dinner in someone’s home, flowers are a
safe bet – but avoid Chrysanthemums – as they are
associated with funerals in European Countries…
 Triangles are a negative shape in Hong Kong, Korea,
and Taiwan; Four is bad luck in Japan & China
 Gifts with company logo ? Business Relationship
establishment or too cheap to buy a gift ?
Diversity …
Is all the ways in which
people are different
from each other… based
 Individual
 Group and
 Cultural differences
Diversity …
Let us all enumerate
the various ways in
which we are
different from each
 Individually
 In Groups and
 Culturally
Diversity …
Is all the ways in which people are
different from each other….some of
which are:
 Race
 Gender
 Ethnic groups
 Age
 Religion
 Sexual orientation
 Citizenship status
 Military service
 Mental & Physical conditions, etc…
Benefits of Diversity …
Diverse cultural perspectives can
inspire creativity and drive
 Cultural sensitivity, insight, and
local knowledge translates into
higher quality and targeted
marketing of products
 Drawing from a culturally diverse
talent pool allows an organisation
to attract and retain the best
Inclusive Workplaces …
A working environment which is inclusive:
 Values the individual and the group
differences within its work force.
This results in innovation, creativity and
greater contributions from the employees…
A good communicator would aim to be:
 Empathatic
 Understanding
 Non-Judgemental
To promote inclusiveness… SHARE…
What are the changes you would
like to see around you…
 At work
 In your home
 In society, at large
 Tata McGraw-Hill – INTERCULTURAL
Strategies & Applications

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