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Cross-cultural & Intercultural Connections USDA Forest Service International Programs March 2006
Expectations Visitor Expectations Tell me about Americans Give me a list of “Dos” and “Don’ts” Just tell me how to survive here Tell me about the Forest Service’s organizational culture and expectations “Culture-Specific” Orientation Gives information about specific culture(s)
USDA Forest Service International Programs Expectations Initial “Culture-General” Orientation → Specifics One should gain an understanding and awareness of cultural dimensions and issues before attempting to analyze specific experiences and information. Reduces stereotyping, inappropriate generalizations and the sharing of inaccurate information. The USA is VERY diverse. The US Forest Service is VERY diverse. The “specifics” will come through interaction in the field and personal discovery. The tools provided in this orientation will give you a way to analyze and interpret interaction and events.
Cultural Perceptions An Experiment… Imagine you are a member of the “Blue Culture. ” You see the world through blue lenses. You cannot remove them. They are your world view. Your friend is a member of the “Red Culture” and sees the world through red lenses. How do you perceive the following information? In your welcome packet you were provided some colored film. Please place either the blue or red film in front of your eyes before proceeding.
Blue Culture people Blue Culture People… HATE OTHER PEOPLE & CULTURES What do you understand about the culture?
Different Views And they love What do you understand about the culture?
Cultural Lenses THE SNOW IS COLD What do you see? Do the red and blue cultures see things the same way?
Culture influences… Our views Our perceptions Our attitudes And… Our choices and behaviors THE SNOW IS COLD Do you see an old or young woman?
Culture is… …the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one group from another. -Geert Hofstede
Culture is… The shared set of assumptions, values and beliefs of a group of people by which they organize their common life. -Gary Wederspahn
Similarities – to what degree? Universal Cultural Ways in which all What a particular people in all group of people have groups are the in common with each same other and how they differ from each other group Individual Ways in which each one of us is different from everyone else, including those in our group Not everything in a different culture is different from your own. There are universal, culture-specific and individual characteristics, values and behaviors. Not everything you learn about a new culture will apply to every individual. It is important to avoid “stereotypes” as they can be inaccurate and perhaps even offensive.
Stereotypesare generalizations of characteristics that are applied to all members of a cultural group. A stereotype does not allow for exceptions or individual variation. We force everyone to fit our prescribed categories. Cultural Generalizations offer a way to simplify descriptions but can never apply to everyone in every situation. They offer good hypotheses as to why a person may behave as s/he does.
American Stereotypes Americans are: Outgoing, Friendly Informal Loud, Rude, Boastful, Immature Hard Working Extravagant, Wasteful Confident they have all the answers Lacking in Class Consciousness Disrespectful of authority Racially prejudiced Ignorant of other countries Wealthy Generous Always in a hurry Promiscuous Distant – not really close to others Over-analytical Are these stereotypes or generalizations?
What happens when we go outside our own cultural boundaries to experience another? History has shown us… Fear of “Otherness”, Create Opinions about others, Conflicts, Domination, Elimination Evolution & Development of Attitudes & Needs Globalization, Open Markets, International Relations, International Education Opportunities Evolution & Development of “Interculturalism”
New insights and Interculturalism emerged “ ” from evolving research in many fields. Psychology Commu nication s y log y io oc S r at hi yc Ps An thr opo gy lo tion uca Ed mics ono c nce E Scie ical olit P Business Intercultural Relations & Communication
Culture is… Like an iceberg.
Features of Culture Music Visible Facial Expressions Apparent Styles of Dress Observable Holiday Customs Invisible General World View Suspected Concept of Fairness Imagined Notion of Modesty Intuited Religious Beliefs
Culture is…like an iceberg Most apparent behaviors are supported by underlying values and beliefs. Visible BEHAVIOR Apparent Observable Invisible Suspected Imagined NON-VERBAL COMMUNICATION THOUGHT PATTERNS BELIEFS Intuited VALUES THOUGHT PATTERNS
Apparent or Not? 19 Visible Apparent Invisible Suspected Imagined Intuited 1. Religious beliefs 11. Foods 2. Importance of time Observable 12. Eating habits 3. Paintings 13. Understanding of the natural world 4. Values 5. Religious rituals 6. Literature 7. Raising children 14. Concept of self 15. Work ethic 16. Concept of beauty 17. Concept of 8. Concept of leadership personal space 9. Gestures 18. Rules of social 10. Nature of Friendship Place these features of culture above or below the water line. Discuss your views and reasoning with others. etiquette 19. Holiday Customs
Why is this important? Surface behaviors are influenced by beneath-the-surface values and assumptions. When we look at behavior, we interpret what is happening through a filter of what our culture tells us is happening. To be a successful “interculturalist, ” one must attempt to understand deeper values. One should attempt to analyze one’s own cultural perceptions and understand their influence in the process of interpreting observations of other cultures.
Intercultural Communication & Interaction Provide opportunities for Discovery Learning Conflict Agreement Confusion Misunderstanding CHANGE & DEVELOPMENT
Intercultural Interaction Intercultural interaction is somewhat like the meeting of icebergs. The meeting my produce synergy and harmonious interaction…or…
Intercultural Interaction The interaction may be more like a collision. When values and beliefs collide, conflicts can arise.
LOW COMFORT & SATISFACTION HIGH Cultural Adjustment Cycle ENTRY RE-ENTRY 2 6 4 8 7 1 3 5 Home Host Culture Home There are multiple stages of cultural adjustment when one steps outside his or her own culture. On the vertical axis, you will see the levels of comfort and satisfaction. The horizontal axis represents the passage of time and the stages of a sojourn. An individual experiences many feelings in each stage…
LOW COMFORT & SATISFACTION HIGH Cultural Adjustment Cycle ENTRY RE-ENTRY 1 Home Host Culture 1. Anticipating Departure – 2. Nervous and Excited Home
LOW COMFORT & SATISFACTION HIGH Cultural Adjustment Cycle ENTRY RE-ENTRY 2 Home Host Culture Home 2. Emotional Highpoint – Honeymoon Stage Excited with all things new & different.
LOW COMFORT & SATISFACTION HIGH Cultural Adjustment Cycle ENTRY RE-ENTRY 3 Home Host Culture Home 3. Critical Low Point – Culture Shock Things are no longer new. Difficulties & Frustrations. Loss of familiar cues.
LOW COMFORT & SATISFACTION HIGH Cultural Adjustment Cycle ENTRY RE-ENTRY 4 Home Host Culture Home 4. Initial Adjustment - Learning to navigate Things improving. Better language skills & understanding. Balance between “+” and “-”.
LOW COMFORT & SATISFACTION HIGH Cultural Adjustment Cycle ENTRY RE-ENTRY 5 Home Host Culture Home 5. Confronting Deeper Issues Increased Frustration. Confront deeper cultural and personal difficulties. More complex relationships. Isolation, boredom, no motivation.
LOW COMFORT & SATISFACTION HIGH Cultural Adjustment Cycle ENTRY RE-ENTRY 6 Home Host Culture Home 6. Adapting, Acculturating and Assimilating Increased comfort. Greater understanding of differences. Integrate & develop strong relationships with hosts OR NOT (some prefer to remain as distant “Visitors”).
Responses to X-Cultural Experiences There are three general responses to intercultural experiences: REJECTION Fight behaviorrebel ACCULTURATE Flight Make certain cultural adjustments and modifications behavior – withdraw Strengthen some existing beliefs. Isolation Adopt what you value & like, reject what you don’t. ASSIMILATE Adopt new ways of being and thinking. Be accepted as an equal in the new culture
LOW COMFORT & SATISFACTION HIGH Cultural Adjustment Cycle ENTRY RE-ENTRY 7 Home Host Culture Home 7. Anticipating Return Thinking about return. Anxiety about leaving. Thoughts about how much one has changed. Thinking about reactions of friends & family.
LOW COMFORT & SATISFACTION HIGH Cultural Adjustment Cycle ENTRY RE-ENTRY 8 Home Host Culture Home 8. Re-entry Adjustment Adjust again. Cycle repeats itself. Familiar environment. Changed perspectives.
LOW COMFORT & SATISFACTION HIGH Cultural Adjustment Cycle ENTRY RE-ENTRY ? ? Home Host Culture Where are you now? Home
Culture Shock Is it an “Occupational Illness” a disease with … psychological and physiological symptoms. Perhaps it is more like the common cold you can treat … the symptoms but you can still get another cold. It is a Identity Crisis – Result of Change– Loss of self & familiar signs Change causes stress Too many life changes at the same time can create stress & illness (new job, move, divorce, marriage, death)
What is Culture Shock? Clashes of Values Cognitive dissonance – Believe one thing, do another Experiences which are not appropriate in your culture Breakdown of Communication Verbal communication may be limited Non-Verbal Communication - Meanings have changed Sense of Being out of Control Feel childish, understanding of situations is limited, emotions are high, unable to manage simple things Expectations are not met Inputs & Outputs – Actions & Reactions differ
Culture Shock comes when expectations are not met. When routine inputs do not produce anticipated outputs, we experience culture shock. What happens when our expectations aren’t met? Reactions differ from one individual to the next, but one thing is certain. Most people do react in some way, either unconsciously or consciously. Reactions may be more or less severe depending on an individual’s tolerance to ambiguity and change. Imagine you are going to buy something from a vending machine. You put money into the machine and push a button. You expect to receive your favorite soda, bag of chips or candy bar in just a few seconds. You wait. Nothing happens. You press the button again, harder this time. What happens when your item still doesn’t come out? What do you do? Do you shake or kick the machine? Say a few choice words and call the machine names? You react because your expectations weren’t met. You may walk away frustrated angry. You may see yourself as a victim. Over time, of course, you eventually learn that the machine requires $1 rather than 75 cents as posted. Everyone in the office seemed to know this but you. This is very similar to what happens when you live and work in a new culture. Systems, actions, reactions and outputs may no longer be what you expect. How will you react in these new situations?
Symptoms of Culture Shock Please take some time to write down some symptoms of culture shock. Compare your list to the following…
Symptoms of Culture Shock Lonely Financial Problems Irritable Poor Grades – Drop outs Depressed Poor job performance Angry Criminal Behavior* Withdrawn - Isolated Eating Disorders* Paranoid Alcohol Abuse* Spaced out Suicide* Stomach problems Skin Problems *Individuals are usually predisposed to more severe reactions & behaviors.
Culture Shock What determines its severity and duration? Personality Tolerance to ambiguity – Comfort with the unknown Amount of difference between the cultures The more different the cultures are, the more severe the culture shock can be Level of similarity between the cultures The more similar the cultures are, the greater the chances are for surprises. One is not prepared for misunderstandings
No Pain, No Gain Bad news… You will experience culture shock Good News!!! You are normal – everyone experiences it! 90% of those who experience culture shock say they are better off than before the experience (It hurts so good!) Most people come back home with more confidence and self-esteem People who journey beyond their own cultures are more aware of the world and experience profound personal and professional growth
Coping Strategies How do I cope with Culture Shock?
Coping Strategies How do I cope with Culture Shock? Make new Friends Go to the movies Be Flexible Exercise Learn to live without familiar things – improvise Talk to supervisors Watch people Focus on Language Learning Keep in touch with old friends Keep a journal Read/Listen to Music Learn new ways of doing things Go out to a restaurant Go shopping Find Common interest groups Take Pictures Visit with colleagues and contact the IP Office
Coping Strategies How do I cope with Culture Shock? Remind yourself… Things weren’t always perfect back home This will pass It is not the end of the world I came here to experience these challenges I’ve been through worse I am not alone NO PAIN, NO GAIN!!! (Is this a culture-specific value? )
Arrival of a new visitor …a story that may sound familiar The Airport Taxi Ride Settling In A Walk Across Campus Registration Lunch Meeting the Advisor
Understanding Dimensions of Culture and ourselves Our learned values, expectations and behaviors shape our interpretations and adjustment Getting to know ourselves and understand dimensions of culture is the 1 st step in successfully crossing cultures.
Let’s get to know ourselves… Place yourself on the continuum then review the following cultural dimensions.
Dimensions of Culture An important question at a party is, “What do you do? ” NO DISAGREE YES AGREE
Dimensions of Culture TO BE TO DO Status is ascribed. It comes from one’s heritage, family, cultural group, and affiliations. Gain status through hard work and individual achievement. Harmony, rather than competition is valued. Value Competition Reliance and cooperation is important to maintain stability. Just Do It! One EARNS status. I’m a “self-made” man. Rambo, The Marlboro Man
Dimensions of Culture I should call my supervisor “Doctor Jones” or “Mr. Jones. ” Calling him “Bob” is not acceptable. NO DISAGREE YES AGREE
Dimensions of Culture FORMAL Some “in-group” cultures develop close, intimate relationships with their in-group members which allow for informal behavior. Generally, they are very formal with those outside their in-group. This may affect levels of trust. INFORMAL Based on egalitarianism. Tend to be casual and informal in social and professional interactions. Informality is also necessary in a more mobile society where people are always meeting new people. In general, most Americans don’t use ranks or titles when addressing each other. It can be considered “snobbish. ” This depends on the setting & culture, however.
Dimensions of Culture When I say “YES, ” I mean “Yes” NO DISAGREE YES AGREE
Dimensions of Culture Sitting with your leg crossed over your knee means things are not good. NO DISAGREE YES AGREE
Dimensions of Culture IMPLICIT High Context Indirect In more homogeneous, collectivist cultures, there is greater understanding of what might happen. Based on history, similarities and traditions. Nonverbal communication is used as there is less need to be explicit. Everyone already knows and understands. Communication’s goal is maintaining harmony. EXPLICIT Low Context Direct We must be more explicit in our communication. In low context cultures, people are more heterogeneous and individualistic. Thus, communication must more specific and explicit about meaning. Things have more literal meanings. Getting and giving information is the goal of communication.
Dimensions of Culture Written contracts are important and must have strict policies. They should never be broken. NO DISAGREE YES AGREE
Dimensions of Culture EMOTIONAL Particularist FACTUAL Universalist Situational – Relative Factual content is most valued Emotional appeals have greater value Emotional appeals dismissed Exceptions made based on person, status, situation Situational Policy – no absolutes No one expects life to be fair Certain absolutes exist everywhere. Practicality emphasized Be “Realistic”, “sensible” “Logical” Rules, theories, policies, contracts applied in all cases
Dimensions of Culture If you disagree with a professor or boss, you should tell him, even if you are in public. NO DISAGREE YES AGREE
Dimensions of Culture Conflict and Disagreement lead to the best solutions and clear the air. NO DISAGREE YES AGREE
Dimensions of Culture Honesty is the best policy. NO DISAGREE YES AGREE
Dimensions of Culture SAVING FACE INDIRECT In collectivist cultures, saving face is very important. Maintaining harmony among group members is very important. Avoiding confrontation is important. One does not want to upset others, cause embarrassment or cause others to lose face. DIRECT In individualistic cultures, saving face is less important. Individuals can take care of themselves and are not as dependent upon others or the opinions of others. Americans believe it is important to be direct and truthful. Confrontation is sometimes necessary to clear the air. Honesty is the best policy. Less worry about hurting people’s feelings.
Dimensions of Culture Where there is a will, there is a way. A person can do anything if s/he tries hard enough. NO DISAGREE YES AGREE
Dimensions of Culture What will be, will be. NO DISAGREE YES AGREE
Dimensions of Culture FATALISM Fate and destiny are predetermined or cannot be influenced by man. ACTIVISM Self-determination negates the influence of fate and destiny. Parents tell their children they can be whatever they want to be when they grow up. There are few “givens” in live, and people have little sense of external limits. Lack of success would be an individual’s fault.
Dimensions of Culture Traditions should be protected and maintained at all costs. NO DISAGREE YES AGREE
Dimensions of Culture TOLERANCE TO CHANGE & TAKING RISKS AGE Change is a criticism of elders and ancestors. Traditions should be maintained out of respect. What has worked up until now is satisfactory. It is unsafe to take risks. YOUTH-NEWNESS Change is seen as good and strongly linked to development and growth. There is always opportunity for everyone. There is no risk or danger in change. Failure can only be temporary. Experimentation, trial and error are important ways to learn.
Dimensions of Culture I bathe, wash my hair, wear deodorant and clean clothes everyday. NO DISAGREE YES AGREE
Dimensions of Culture PERSONAL HYGEINE Personal hygiene habits are based on culture, climate, or resources. Cleanliness and avoiding offending others is important. Availability of resources and views of sanitary conditions drive personal hygiene habits. Both a cultural and personal issue.
Dimensions of Culture When talking to someone, I stand as close as 15 inches. NO DISAGREE YES AGREE
Dimensions of Culture I walk hand in hand with people of my same sex. NO DISAGREE YES AGREE
Dimensions of Culture When I talk to people, they usually back away from me. NO DISAGREE YES AGREE
Dimensions of Culture PERSONAL SPACE Being physically close to people is the norm and is acceptable. Less space in society (urban, population), less personal space. Personal space is important. Usually 24” (an arm’s length) is tolerable or comfortable in many American cultural groups and settings.
Dimensions of Culture It is okay to be 5 minutes late to a meeting. NO DISAGREE YES AGREE
Dimensions of Culture If I am late, I would not enter a meeting or classroom. NO DISAGREE YES AGREE
Dimensions of Culture It is important to build relationships by talking to colleagues at work. The amount of time it takes is not important, even if working under deadline. NO DISAGREE YES AGREE
Dimensions of Culture TIME Polychronic Time is the servant of people, people should not be slaves to time. Time should be adjusted to meet the needs of people. More time is always available. You are never too busy. It is not necessary to finish one thing before starting another. Monochronic Time is given and people are the variables. The needs of people are adjusted to the schedule, deadlines, etc. Time is quantified, valued, and limited. A resource, like money. Time should not be wasted. People organize life based on projects & tasks on timelines.
Dimensions of Culture Arranged marriage is a good thing. NO DISAGREE YES AGREE
Dimensions of Culture Decisions should be made by consensus. NO DISAGREE YES AGREE
Dimensions of Culture Collectivist One’s identity is a function of his/her place in a group or on a team. The survival of the group ensures the survival of the individual. Members are close. Harmony and interdependency is important. Individualist One’s identity is what s/he make it. The needs of the individual are most important as providing for and taking care of oneself guarantees the success of the group. If the individual is strong and independent, the group will not be burdened. More distance emotionally. Choose to join groups, but group membership is not essential to identity or success.
Dimensions of Culture I would invite the cleaning lady in our office to have lunch with me. NO DISAGREE YES AGREE
Dimensions of Culture Vertical Horizontal Organizational Structures Power Distance -Management Styles Hierarchy in an organization or company is very important. One does not step out of his or her level. Decisions are made at the top. Managers appreciate input from all levels in the organization. Employees are encouraged to provide suggestions and feedback. Value egalitarianism. Expectations of equality.
Dimensions of Culture American women are “easy”…like in the movies. NO DISAGREE YES AGREE
Dimensions of Culture Making eye contact with someone means, “I am interested in more than friendship. ” NO DISAGREE YES AGREE
Dimensions of Culture Calling and emailing someone many times each day is a good way to tell them you really like them. NO DISAGREE YES AGREE
Dimensions of Culture A: “Please go to dinner with me. ” B: “Oh, sure, that would be nice sometime, thank you. ” This means – “Yes, I want to go out with you. ” NO DISAGREE YES AGREE
Dimensions of Culture Power Relations Gender Relations Roles of Males & Females in Society ? ? ?
Dimensions of Culture Male- Female Relations Courtship-Dating-Sex-Marriage-Family ? ? ?
Know Yourself If you are able to understand yourself, your values, beliefs and behaviors… you will better understand… your reactions to others & their reactions to you. This doesn’t prevent culture shock, but it does help you develop coping strategies when it comes.
All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware. – Martin Buber Enjoy discovering the diverse American culture(s) and yourself!
Use your resources!!! US Forest Service International Programs th 1099 14 Street, NW Washington, DC 20005 www. fs. fed. us/global Brenda Dean 202 -219 -9774 bdean@fs. fed. us We’re here to help!