Problem-solving in another culture

You have already learned that culture is a matter of perception and that different cultures have different ways of communicating and doing business. However, you will experience situations, which will challenge your perception of what is right and what is not. Below are some dilemmas you might experience during your stay.

  • You feel overwhelmed with work and believe you have much more responsibility on your shoulders than you should have. You have scheduled a meeting with your supervisor and consider how to discuss the issue with him/her.
  • As a new team member with limited work experience you want to establish good working relations with your new colleagues and gain professional respect. You consider the best way to do that.
  • Your spouse has relocated with you and finds it difficult to pass time while you are away for long hours. One day (s)he tells you (s)he is ready to go home ahead of time. You want him/her to stay, so you suggest ways to better the situation.
  • Your young son is stationed with you on your assignment and is having problems integrating with the children in his school. One day he comes home crying because the classmates said he was different. You decide to do something about it.
  • Your supervisor is not giving you the attention you feel you deserve and need to do a good job. You feel it comes down to different expectations to the supervision and decide to talk with him/her about it.
  • You are from a country where corporal punishment is prohibited, and work in a country where it is widely used. One day you see your new friend hitting his young child. You want to say or do something but are not sure what.
  • You meet an important external partner who will not shake your hand (or a colleague’s hand) because you are of the opposite sex. You are offended and consider how you will deal with this in the future.
  • Your local colleagues talk to each other in their own language, which you do not understand. You get the feeling they are talking about you behind your back. You consider how you should deal with this. 


How would you react in these situations keeping in mind what you know about cultures and doing business in other cultures?

Maria, JPO: "Going home" (0:57)