The Culture Dance

No culture can live if it attempts to be exclusive. ~ Mohandas Gandhi

I was recently asked by a workmate to help address a problem with a team she leads. This tight knit team has, for the past few years, been required to work with another team, which is difficult enough. The team is remotely located which adds to the challenge because the teams cannot see each other on a regular basis making forming a bond an activity which takes concerted effort, effort that is not see as very important to either team. The challenge is compounded because the teams are based in two very different cultures.

Why was I chosen to help? According to my workmate, I am a “guru in intercultural communication.” This comment made me smile. A few years prior, when my team piloted offshore development for my company, we undertook cultural training to work with people in India. As the 8 hour training course progressed, and we learned of the nuances of Eastern and Western culture, it was very evident that I had a strong propensity to act in ways that were Western. Strong may not adequately describe my behaviors. On the continuums that described the behaviors, I was at the very far end of the spectrum of those behaviors ascribed to Westerners and my team saw me as the single biggest risk to the project succeeding. Their plan was to keep another workmate by my side during all interactions with our Indian colleagues to act as a buffer and to perform damage control whenever I opened my mouth and stupidity oozed out. This workmate was one of those people that were worried that I would cause an international rift.

Just the opposite happened. I was able to work very effectively within the Indian culture. Through my training and reading, I was able to meet my Indian teammates. I am happy to say that, despite the project ending a few years ago, I have made some very good friends in India. People that I miss because my company has not sent me back to India in quite some time.

Since that time, I have been lucky enough to work with teams based in Switzerland and Italy. I was given cultural training for all the countries with whom I have worked. My experience and my openness to trying to understand the people from other countries has given me a measure of understanding of other cultures.  However, I am by no means a guru, just a person fascinated with people. And this fascination is something I happily share with others.

The role my workmate has asked me to fulfill, is to help her local team understand strategies to more effectively work within this intercultural context. My job is to ensure the teams can effectively dance together.


2 comments on “The Culture Dance

  1. The fact that no major mishap took place might not have anything to do with your ability to work with people belonging to a different culture. Some cultures have high tolerance for ignorance. Just another possibility to consider?

  2. Then I can be happy that I did not surpass anyone's tolerance for ignorance. Than in itself is a victory for me.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


The thing is...

wild life weeks

your weekly nature and travel blog

Midnight Musings

Life From a Different Perspective


A little something for you.

Bonnywood Manor

Peace. Tranquility. Insanity.

Elan Mudrow

The Ridges of Intertextuallity

Two Bangali Backpackers

Travel, Tiffin & Prem


Every Heart Has A Story.

pen, actually

stationery lover, grammar queen

Sweta Ojha

A Personified Narrative : Defying Reality. Sketching Imageries.

Atoms of Thought

Essays on travel, identity, literature, and philosophy.


by Evelina Di Lauro


Because life is too overrated to ignore

Milly Schmidt

The Cat's Write


"My words are my identity"

%d bloggers like this: