Katarzyna Richter is a cross-cultural psychologist with vast experience in Middle Eastern cultures. In this episode: 1. We discussed the importance of cultural differences in business 2. How to learn different culture fast 3. Thoughts on stereotypes 4. Example of UAE as a country with a culture different to Eastern Europe.
Going global means meeting other cultures. There are significant differences in how to do business in the US and, for example, in UAE. See what we’ve learned from an interview with cross-cultural psychologist Katarzyna Richter, who lived in middle-eastern countries for 10 years.
Example of United Arab Emirates:
- Show respect by dedicating your time. Never show that you’re in a hurry.
- Human needs come first, doing business second.
- Asking about family is well received. But don’t ask Arab businessman about his wife!
- Never criticize a person in public.
- Networking in the Middle East: It's good to have someone to introduce you.
- Building trust is essential.
Different cultures — the basics:
- We assume that people in other countries think alike. It’s a mistake because every culture is a different set of values, beliefs, and stereotypes.
- Culture is like a software. Our values are deeply wired into our subconsciousness and our stereotypes are often implicit.
- Cultural differences are becoming more important due to an increase in globalization. That’s why it’s important to understand what the culture really is.
Culture is like an iceberg. What we experience (cuisine, fashion, way of life) is only a surface. To understand a culture, you have to understand WHY. Why do they dress like that? Why do they eat that kind of food? Etc.
To avoid bad decisions, you have to watch out for stereotypes. Fighting them requires conscious effort.
How to learn about other culture fast:
- Observe and copy the behavior of others.
- Get a shortcut. Find your countryman that's been living in this culture for some time. He or she can easily explain to you certain customs and behaviours.
- It’s likely you make some mistakes. Apologize and ask for advice. Be humble and polite. “Forgive me. I’m new to your country. Could you please show me, how should I do it?”
Last but not least, be cautious with humor, because it’s the most difficult thing to translate into other cultures. What is considered funny in Eastern Europe can be an offense in Dubai.