The joy of difference

I’ve not published a Q&A post in a while, and today certainly lends itself to doing so.

On this morning’s training session on Assertiveness training, we had some really good discussions about the normal range of things which arise on this topic – the difference between passive behaviour, aggressive behaviour and assertive behaviour; defining assertive behaviour; creating a bill of rights and responsibilities; how to say no; and active listening. One of the unexpected discussions that came through the session was about cultural differences.

It’s something which does often raise its head on this topic, and is something which always creates a fascinating discussion. What I love about the discussion is the sudden level of appreciation created in the room amongst everyone.

I enjoy some duality in living two cultures. I enjoy British culture, and follow many of our well established rules of behaviour – complaine about the weather, talk dryly about pretty much everything, believe that a queue can be formed for everything, being a stickler for correct use of English. I enjoy Punjabi culture too – finding any excuse to have a family gathering and party, finding an excuse to always mention my education (Masters degree dontcha know), have an unhealthy attitude in favour of Indian sweets, believe that family reputation is front and foremost the most important thing to worry about.

Some of the things shared this morning from the Dutch, Italian and Spanish delegates were around how easy it is for their passion and directness to be misunderstood as rudeness. They get told to be like that, but don’t be like that. They get told that they need to be more ‘British’.

So let’s share some cultural insights – what things do you do that get easily misunderstood because culturally this is what you would do?