There is always something to be learned when interacting with people of different cultures. This isn’t just an issue of race and nationality…but also includes personality types, organizations, and even departments within the same company.
I just moved to a new role in my organization and attempted to hold my first department meeting. I sent out an email to everyone asking if they were available on a certain time and date. When everyone confirmed with me, I booked the room and dropped an event on my calendar.
Only one person showed up expecting a meeting. Why?
Because I did not followup with a calendar invite to lock down everyone’s calendar. The culture of my new department includes the perspective that “if it’s not on my calendar, I am not committed.”
Interestingly, the one person who showed up also worked with me in a previous department. In that department, it is normal to have hallway conversations and casually commit to meetings where everyone is expected to manage their own calendar.
There isn’t anything right or wrong with either culture. The only reason we are even aware of those cultural differences was because of the collision I caused. When I used the informal, un-written, un-verbalized expectations from one culture and applied it when I engaged another culture, it just didn’t work.
The next time someone appears to drop the ball on you, look deeper. It is rarely a character issue…it is usually a cultural expectation issue.
Thanks for listening.