There’s no question that the way a person views the world and functions, both in day-to-day life and in business, is built on the foundation of their native culture. Some might say there are no two cultures more different than those of a primarily Western mindset vs. an Eastern mindset.
Take a moment to complete this quiz – after answering the questions, where do you fall?
The differences in the way of thinking can be pinpointed to how one views the world around them, and how one views themselves in relation to that world. Studies have shown that people in Western culture are set on the independent and individual mindset – this is reflected succeeding in business all the way down to “making your own way” in life. Westerners have a center focus – the primary details matter and everything else comes secondary.
Alternatively, the Eastern mindset looks at the broader picture. The context of a situation – what is the setting, timing, meaning – takes the lead in thought and that overarching, cohesive stance is reflected in the interdependent, or team, thought process.
This cultural mindset is also linked to learning style. Western cultures “see struggle as an indicator you’re just not very smart…in Eastern cultures, it’s a predictable part of the learning process,” notes James Stigler on education hurdles between the cultures. This in turn leads to misconceptions about how people absorb information, confront challenges, and grow when placed in scenarios outside of their own culture and what they’re used to.
Many things effect the lasting remnants between these cultures. The Western mindset of “individual” approach and focusing on specifics vs. context can be linked back to paving a new way such as in American history. Meanwhile, a collective approach seen in China is deeply rooted in the country’s history that has been cultivated over centuries.
At CAI, we take the finer nuances of a person’s native culture into account when designing our cultural training programs. We believe that cultural training cannot be approached in a blanketed one-size-fits-all way – we aim to meet the needs of each participant individually by preparing the training, our material, and the intercultural facilitator to address the program utilizing the core aspects of each participant and their background culture.
When looking forward to a progressively globalized business world, the fact that cultural understanding is no longer a luxury but a necessity is sometimes painfully clear. In order to ensure international workers have the best chance of success in their new assignments and have a smooth and comprehensive transition, preparing people for the diverse mindsets of other cultures in key. Take the time to explore the cultural training programs solutions we can offer you before your relocation and transition – you’ll be surprised by what you learn.