Last updated: May 23, 2019
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What is meant by transverse cultural differences?

Let ‘s get down by specifying what we mean by the term cross cultural differences, merely put when persons from more than one cultures meet, so the premises and the givens that they have in relation to their ain and the other ‘s civilization ‘s, can be termed as their cultural differences. The people from same civilization are normally guided by the same set of values, beliefs and imposts.

When we hear the term cross cultural differences, we normally think of the differences across parts, for e.g. the Americans, Europeans, Asians or possibly across the states, for e.g. Indians, Chinese, Gallic, Italians etc. But these may widen even to the different parts across the state, different faiths & A ; even castes ; I feel that it besides extends to the different subdivisions of the society.

It is a most recognized fact that a foreign linguistic communication plays a great function in intercultural communicating. However, this is misdirecting as people tend to presume that get the hanging a foreign linguistic communication is equal to pass on with aliens. In my sentiment, it is besides necessary to larn certain accomplishments such as the non verbal communications, in order to work out cultural differences, if one is traveling to pass on with people of another civilization because a civilization encompasses non merely the linguistic communication but has its ain set of values, beliefs and imposts.

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Over the old ages the survey of the civilizations and their differences has been an interesting and challenging subject for many but in the past decennary, due to the globalisation and dropping of the trade barriers, it has become even more critical and indispensable for all to larn about the cultural differences and some rudimentss in pull offing them ; as in today ‘s environment one may hold to interact with other civilizations at a really short notice and without any formal readying.

Awareness of Cultural Differences

I personally became cognizant, at an early age, of the fact that there are some differences between me and my friends, which subsequently I came to cognize, were labeled under the cultural differences. The first indicant was the fluctuations in the festivals that were celebrated and the manner they were celebrated, across the different households within our communities. Another was the fluctuations in the nutrient and the eating wonts of my friends and households.

These were some of the early mark that taught me that even though me and my friends go to the same school, survey, play together still there were some differences in certain facets, between us, which really we truly enjoyed and looked frontward to, particularly the different type of nutrients.

Looking back I realize that one thing about cultural differences is that they become more prevailing as we grow, particularly when we are in our teens and our friend circle grows and we come in contact with more diverse civilizations and personalities.

Another point that comes to mind was the quandary on how to distinguish as to whether a certain person ‘s behaviour is due to his personal trait or due to his cultural background. If I recall right and as per my observations, when I was in my teens and besides during the college yearss, it did n’t affair as to which civilization an person belonged to, what mattered the most was whether I was able to associate to them ; or experience comfy with and above all be able to swear them ; And those people normally became my close brothers and intimates, irrespective of their single civilizations. Although one thing I realized during my college yearss is that each cultural experience that we have besides has an single component to it. Two people from the same civilization may hold different responses to the same state of affairs ; therefore I try ne’er to categorise the person as per their civilization.

Cultural Experiences & A ; Learning

The existent acquisition in the civilizations, particularly at an international degree normally starts when one begins their professional callings, as was the instance with me. During my early yearss I had several experiences that made me cognizant of the fact that I had a long manner to travel and tonss of things to larn on the cultural facet. Some of the interesting incidents from my professional journey are listed below:


I have had this experience in several signifiers and changing grades. And I am certain most of the people might hold experienced this in some signifier. As for me, if I nod my caput up or down that would intend a verification and if I nod it sideways, that implies no, but I learned that is non the instance with everybody. During one of my presentations in a undertaking meeting, I noticed a co-worker traveling his caput sideways on figure of occasions. During the inquiry and reply session, I straight asked him, if there was anything he did n’t hold with and to my surprise, he replied in negative and went on to add twosome of point in support of my presentation.

Another lesson in the cultural differences was brought upon me in instead a awful manner during one of our regular squad meetings with our US opposite numbers. During the treatment at one point the individual on the other side said “ Ya, Sure ” . There was a little intermission between the words “ Ya ” and “ Certain ” . For me, it meant that the individual was in understanding, but in world it was non the instance and our experient undertaking director, instantly went in to delve deeper. And we found that there were some apprehensivenesss related to the undertaking bringing day of the months. So, fundamentally, the term “ Ya, Sure ” from my US opposite number, was non a verification but more of inquiry or dissension hidden in irony.


In one case, we were to work on a large Nipponese onsite undertaking and were given a 6 month Nipponese Language class, which besides included the cultural differences. One thing that stood out was the handshakings. For me, house handshakings were a cosmopolitan phenomenon, but I learned that even here, there is a little fluctuation, for e.g. in the Nipponese society, the handshakings are soft and people normally bow. And in instance of ladies, it is the lady who offers her manus foremost. I besides learned that Nipponese were one of the most polite people around ; this was in crisp contrast to the civilization I come from.

During this clip we were besides working on another Nipponese offshore undertaking, where we used to organize day-to-day with our Nipponese opposite numbers. One incident was an oculus opener in footings of the accent provided to the work, particularly a challenge, in the Nipponese civilization. We were to hold an onsite demo to the client and we asked one of our Nipponese opposite numbers help to put up the hardware and the package for the demo, which was agenda after a hebdomad. And for this we were organizing with him till 9PM ; so we all decided to travel place and go on the following twenty-four hours. Following twenty-four hours when we came in we were surprised to see an email communicating at 5AM from the Nipponese opposite number informing us of the completion of the apparatus and moreover he was being excusatory that it took him more clip so he had earlier estimated! ! ! For him it was a challenge and the fact that it took him longer than expected, he wanted to finish the undertaking above anything else, even though he spent about 20 hours in office even though there was no urgency to make so.


Before the Nipponese undertaking could come, I had to travel on an assignment to Canada and it is here that I learned rather a few lessons in the cross cultural differences:

One thing I instantly noticed within the first few yearss was the difference in the manner the people travelled in the trains and coachs ; everybody was busy in their ain universe, either busy reading something, playing on the electronic appliances or merely maintaining their eyes closed, or some merely agaze blankly, unmindful to everything around them. And if by any opportunity you managed to acquire an oculus contact, so there would normally be a speedy smiling and the individual would rapidly look away. This was in crisp contrast to that in India, where people normally tend to strike conversation with those sitting around them or normally you would see people sitting in groups, chew the fating or playing cards.

Another thing I observed where we varied by a grade ( some would wish to set this as a similarity ) was the clip factor. In Canada, normally if person said 5 autopsy, so it would intend anyplace between 4:50 autopsy to 5:15 autopsy. But for Indians normally 5 autopsy would intend ( in best instance scenario ) 5:30 pm – 5:45 autopsy! Actually, personally I prided myself to be ever on clip. I ever took some buffer ; whenever I was to run into or see person, I would normally be a spot early. But the times have changed and I have besides changed. Now before make up one’s minding on the clip, I normally consider the behavior/personality of the individual, and the juncture ; as I have now learned that it is non ever prudent to be on clip. This point besides highlights the fact that the cultural differences are non ever changeless and they keep germinating.

In India, demoing fondness in public by snoging on the lips and embracing tightly is non considered appropriate, but in Canada, this was a common sight.

Another facet of it became apparent to me in instead a screaming manner. I had a friend who had migrated to Canada few old ages back and we had n’t met for a long clip. One weekend we decided to run into at a public topographic point and like we normally do in India, particularly among friends we gave other a clinch and were speaking to each other, without recognizing that we were still keeping handsaˆ¦.My friend all of a sudden realized this and allow travel of the manus. Although I did n’t acquire the significance of it instantly, but subsequently we had a good laugh over the drinks, as he explained that he had noticed several passer-by ‘s giving us the amusing expressions, as in Canada there is another significance if the cats are keeping custodies.

Another thing I noticed was the oculus contact, normally in Indian civilization, we do n’t look straight in the eyes, particularly to our seniors and seniors ; it is seen as a mark of discourtesy ( possibly non now, but in the good old yearss ) . But in Canada if you do n’t look in the oculus of your senior, so that might connote that either you are concealing something or non certain of what you are speaking about. Fortunately, I had the proficient information to endorse up my response, and was able to pull off the state of affairs. But even here there is a little fluctuation, in Canada if you are out in the streets, particularly in the back back street and had the bad luck of being surrounded by one of the street packs and while reacting you happen to look straight in their eyes, you are in troubleaˆ¦.big problem. One of my Indian co-workers had a broken olfactory organ to demo for it. So could this intend that this it is non merely the civilization but something else involved here? Could this be due to the certain do ‘s and don’ts of the environment you are in, i.e. something that is considered appropriate in one environment might be wholly inappropriate in the other.

One illustration to this consequence where a certain thing is acceptable in one civilization but prohibited in the other is the Bull combat, which is really popular in Spain and consists of public screening of the violent death of a bull. This act, nevertheless, is forbidden in India, where a bull is considered to be holy and any act of harming the bull is punishable by jurisprudence. There are several other similar illustrations, if we look at the Arab states. Without judging these differences on their virtue, we should be tolerant and understanding towards these differences.

Another facet, about which my friend had forewarned, was the conversation subjects ; I was non to inquire any personal inquiries to my Canadian co-workers, unless they were the 1 ‘s who initiate the topic and to merely maintain the conversation around athleticss and conditions. This tip came in rather ready to hand, as it helped me in interrupting the ice while interacting with my Canadian co-workers, as they did n’t see me to be meddlesome or interfering in their personal life. This really helped me in being invited out for societal excursions with my Canadian co-workers. This was in fluctuation to the Indian civilization, where people by and large tend to inquire personal inquiries to their co-workers and friends. Asking inquiries such “ Are you married ” or “ How many childs you have ” are non considered rude or invasion of privateness.


Subsequently on, in my calling I moved to Singapore and here besides I was able to larn more on the cultural facets. My squad members consisted of people from varied civilizations and states and it took me erstwhile to hold on some of the differences that existed. One such case was that during the squad run intoing some of the people were ever rather and did n’t talk up much ; my initial logical thinking was that possibly they are by nature reserved, and necessitate more clip to open up ; besides as the squad was comparatively new. But whenever I used to turn to them straight for their remarks and responses, they ever had their inputs ; and their responses were relevant and to the point. I realized that maybe it ‘s due to their cultural background where they normally do n’t set in their sentiments, particularly to their seniors, unless asked. It took some clip but finally we were able to organize a squad civilization, where everybody was able to freely show their positions.

Another cultural facet was the grade and the manner people look at certain things. Some people would experience really pained if you do n’t hold to their position point. Although I felt that this was more of a personal trait, I found that Asians normally tend to travel in this way in comparing to the Europeans or the North Americans. Another facet was the weight age that Americans tend to give to their sentiments, in comparing to the Asians ; Americans tend to be more long-winded and confrontational even if they are cognizant that what they say possibly wrong, while Asians normally tend to make the antonym.

I besides learnt that there is besides fluctuations in the manner the people from different civilizations look at the squad event ; Europeans tend to look at it as a imbibing event, normally self paid ; some Asiatics tend to look at it as a sponsored tiffin / dinner or a imbibing session. We have worked at doing a squad event as a partially sponsored athleticss event followed by imbibing session. Alcohol is a great planimeter of the civilizations! ! !

One inquiry that was asked of me repeatedly and rather frequently in Singapore, was on the subject of ordered matrimonies in the Indian civilization. Peoples from other civilizations were unable to hold on the construct of arranged matrimonies and were eager to larn more about it. And I have had several long treatments on this subject.

Voyaging the Cultural Differences

Given above are some of the illustrations that I took out from my life ; there were besides several other incidents some good, some non so good but all these brushs acted as a learning experience. Based on my experience, these are the basic points that I normally try to maintain in head so as to be able to successfully turn to the cultural spreads:

Never assume anything. One of my professors told me to ever retrieve this “ ass-u-me ” , by presuming we make an “ buttocks ” of “ u ” and “ me ” .

Always be prepared. Try to make background research on the civilizations you will be interacting with.

In instance of uncertainness, it is ever better to inquire. No inquiry is stupid.

Listen to the other individual, we normally hear but do n’t truly understand the feeling behind what is being stated.

We need to detect the other individual closely for the non verbal communicating.

We should seek to hold changeless duologue with the person to be able to understand his behaviour, values and premises.

Never attempt to support our place but be tolerant of the others and be ready to inquire for forgiveness. But this should be done in a manner so as to non to minimize our ain civilization and besides non being disrespectful to the other civilizations.

We might hold had our experiences with the different civilizations, some good, some non so good. We need to do certain that we ne’er take those feelings with us for the new cultural interactions. Take each interaction as new without any biass or outlooks.

We need to ever maintain in head that each individual is an single and should non be labeled as per his civilization. It helps to cognize certain traits of a civilization such as the imposts, traditions, beliefs, but behavioural facets and values may change.

Have a positive attitude.

It is ever easier said than done and that is besides the instance with the points listed supra. It takes clip and pattern. I try to larn from each cultural brush and if possible find ways to better.

One of the incidents in Singapore provided an penetration into the fact that today people are more cognizant about the other civilizations and besides find ways to associate to them.

One of my Chinese friend who was an devouring fan of Indian films, particularly of Amitabh Bachchan, Indian ace, invited few of her friends for a screening of one of his films “ Black ” , at her place and I was invited so as to be able to interpret, in instance the English interlingual rendition was non clear to her friends! This is an emotional film and at the terminal there were rather a few ruddy eyes. It was really cheering to see people seeking to accept other civilizations. As for me, I have besides watched several Chinese and Korean films and liked them.


I have listed down some of the cultural brushs that I had and the related jobs and how I navigated around them. I was fortunate to hold had people steering me along the manner, so as to non to perpetrate any major faux pas. With their aid and counsel and besides based on my observations I was able to voyage the issues around the cultural spreads. As already stated earlier, I believe that the major issues around the cultural spreads are due to the premises that we form for a peculiar civilization and If we are able to maintain these premises out of the manner, so most of the cultural differences would disappear.

In today ‘s universe cipher can deny the importance of being cognizant of the cultural differences and the ability to be able to voyage through them. Particularly in a company like Credit Suisse, multicultural squads are a norm, where we interact with people from varied civilizations on a twenty-four hours to twenty-four hours footing. In such an environment it helps to be cognizant of the cultural differences both in the verbal and the non verbal communications. As mentioned above oculus contacts, facial looks, gestures may change from civilization to civilization.

I believe that the one universal non verbal communicating, which transcends all civilizations, and understood by all, is the smiling. This facial look suggests friendliness, kindness and good will ; and is ever welcomed and accepted by all civilizations.

I would wish to stop with the statement that I have had the chance to larn from several cultural brushs and I believe that the cultural struggles can be avoided every bit long as people learn to understand and esteem each civilization, if we are cognizant of the differences and ready to accept different thoughts, we will non hold job in pass oning with people of different civilizations. This is a uninterrupted acquisition, as the civilizations themselves are besides germinating.