Chapter 18

Navigating the Choppy Waters of Cross-Cultural Feedback

by Andy Molinsky

Although many of us don’t like to do it, we know that critiquing others’ work—ideally in a constructive, polite, empowering manner—is an essential part of our jobs. But does critical feedback work similarly across cultures? Do people in Shanghai provide critical feedback in the same way as people in Stuttgart, Strasbourg, and Stockholm?

Nein, non, and nej.

Instead, they confront situations where they do have to adjust their feedback style, and sometimes that’s easier said than done. Take the case of Jens, a German executive who was sent by the German corporate headquarters of his company to improve efficiency at the company’s manufacturing plant in Shanghai. All ...

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