Part III—Culture-Specific Activities
As human beings, we are very much alike, but we are also quite different. For example, we all
want to be respected, but the words, gestures, and attitudes with which respect is shown in one
culture can go unseen or even be perceived as insults in another. We all want to succeed in our
work and our business with others, but the ways in which we go about achieving this can be
radically different.
We learn culture-general competencies in order to become alert to where these differences lie,
but when it comes to interacting and working with others on the job, and social interactions with
our colleagues and business partners of different backgrounds, it becomes critically important to
know about the specific attitudes, values, patterns of speech, and behavior that characterize one
another’s culture if we are to behave appropriately.
Once we know about these cultural specifics, we still have the challenge of applying them to
individual people and various situations. In doing so, we strive to maintain the delicate balance
between stereotyping (assuming that an individual or group must behave according to certain
cultural norms, simply because they belong to that culture) and ethnocentric myopia (assuming
that culture is not a factor at work in the people or situations we encounter). Culture-specific
competence means knowing as much as we can about others’ cultures and using what we know
to avoid both these pitfalls.
The exercises in Part III help us to do this for a few cultures and situations. Though they only
scratch the surface of the endless field of culture-specific knowledge, they will be a useful start-
ing point for many participants in training programs and educational events.

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