7MANAGING ACROSS CULTURES
Managing Across Cultures
Managing Across Cultures
Building relationships is a powerful thing. I have realized that forming one-to-one relationships with other people builds a strong foundation for change. More so, developing connections with individuals who come from different cultures from mine is paramount in the development of diverse communities which are strong enough in the achievement of main global goals. Given that I have undergone different levels of education I was bound to meet and work with people from different economic, language, racial, and ethnic groups (Schneider, and Barsoux, 2003). So that I can interact through studying and working with people from various cultural backgrounds, I have continuously learned that I need to develop caring and strong relationships with other people which are based on understanding, trust, and shared goals. In my personal and professional life, I have lived in Saudi Arabia, my home country and Australia, which have very different cultures where I have had to adapt and learn from both. Therefore, the paper will document the effects that culture has had on my life both personally and professionally.
It is important to note that it is of utmost importance for one to know their culture. In my perspective and what I have learned from the interactions with other cultures, knowing one’s culture will prevent them from trying to project their personal values to other people from other cultures (Schneider, and Barsoux, 2003). It is not true that other people do things for the same reasons as we do rather they believe and behave in ways that they feel is right and what their culture calls them to do. This was the mistake that I did when I experienced a different culture which made it rather difficult for me to adapt to the changes (Schneider, and Barsoux, 2003).
I have worked as a part-time financial assistant at the Foot and Ankle Institution in Saudi Arabia. I have also undertaken a three-month internship at the Saudi Franci Bank in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is a country that has upheld very strict customs and traditions which are guided and inspired by the Islamic culture (Schneider, and Barsoux, 2003). These differences are mostly regarding clothing and developing relations with the opposite sex. People in Saudi Arabia are deeply family oriented, traditional, conservative, and religious which was the beginning of my learning to adjust to that culture and society.
I did not have lots of trouble adjusting to this culture since it is where I have lived my entire life. The weekend in Saudi Arabia was on Friday and Saturday, there was no interacting with the females, and people would break three to four times when working so that they could observe the daily prayers. The women were supposed to cover themselves all the time and did not have a lot of freedom when it came to making certain decisions without the approval of either their husbands or their fathers. In my view, although it is my country of origin, there were times when I felt the culture in Saudi Arabia was a little bit unfair and sounded oppressive (Schneider, and Barsoux, 2003).
My first year of working made me learn a lot about accepting my culture and that of others as well as understanding others’ culture from their point of view. Of course, I experienced antagonism with my colleagues because we had very different viewpoints (Schneider, and Barsoux, 2003). However, with time, I learned that to make my life more enjoyable, to make my workplace more conducive to me and others, and ultimately to make the world a better place, it was my duty to build commitment and trust with other people. When I came to this realization, I used the parts of my cultural intelligence which include cultural understanding, intercultural communication, and intercultural engagement to build this trust and commitment with the people that i interacted with (Schneider, and Barsoux, 2003).
In the process, I learned that I was not born with culture, and no one is. I learned that culture is something that is learned either from one’s family, through the media, in schools, from the religious teachings or different other media (Schneider, and Barsoux, 2003). I, therefore, undertook to try and learn as much as I could from these sources just so I could learn more about myself, my culture, and how it differed with the new culture. It was rather shocking to me that I was able to know myself more which I believe significantly shaped my personality. My self-awareness was enhanced, and my personality was shaped because on many occasions I had to trust my gut, and I had to survive extended periods of unfamiliarity and loneliness which helped me to develop a thick skin. In my vulnerability in working in an environment that is highly diverse, I experienced significant growth both on a personal and professional level. I became a more joyful person; I was more welcoming of others which led to a significant enhancement of my work productivity (Schneider, and Barsoux, 2003).
Looking back, just before I decided to relocate to Australia, I realized that learning new cultures is a tremendously liberating and exciting experience. I became more excited to travel the world because I knew that I would have the opportunity of seeing stuff that I would not otherwise experience or see as well as doing unique and fun things that I could not do back in my home country (Schneider, and Barsoux, 2003). I also came to the realization that exploring new cultures was not only about interacting with people from that culture but also learning the traditions and history of the culture, trying new foods, as well as discovering new music of that culture. I thus believe that I will always remember my entire life and experience in Saudi Arabia even in my old age as I look forward to exploring new nations and cultures (Schneider, and Barsoux, 2003).
For the first time, I moved to Australia, Melbourne, where I have been living for two years. In Australia, the culture is the exact opposite of that in Saudi Arabia. It felt like I was about to go back to square one of learning and to adopt a whole new culture. However, this time I was in a better position because to cope with these challenges (Schneider, and Barsoux, 2003). However, it was a whole new experience and although it was not my expectation, I experienced a culture shock. Here, I came into contact with a whole new language which I felt was the first barrier that I needed to overcome to enhance my adaptation. Therefore, I began studying the English language at some English schools for one entire year. I would say my experience here was educative and exciting as I interacted with people from across the world with different cultures (Schneider, and Barsoux, 2003).
Unlike in Saudi Arabia, citizens in Australia are freer, people from both genders are allowed to interact, and one thing that stood out is the diversity of people from across the world. Given that I was more aware of myself and I had a high personal identity, I became more comfortable in the new culture. I slowly had the opportunity to expand my circle of friends which included people from across the globe both males and females. I learned that different people had different life experiences, backgrounds, and perspectives which were a transformative experience for me (Schneider, and Barsoux, 2003). Additionally, this shaped me to becoming a more open-minded person as well as it opens doors for other opportunities in other places in the world which could otherwise not be accessible for me.
During my stay in Australia and learning its culture as well as the cultures of other people, I continue to learn that when I experience culture shocks, similar to the ones I had experienced in Saudi Arabia and Australia, people are interconnected and similar. Regardless of the differences in ethnicities, languages, and cultures, every human being shares the same aspirations (Schneider, and Barsoux, 2003). These goals include finding love, protecting our loved ones including our families, enjoying what we do, and earning a good living. My travelling in different countries has reinforced the idea that all of us share similar human experiences on the planet earth. Maneuvering through the culture has also taught me how to be more accommodative to others, regardless of the background or who they are because, despite the continent that one finds themselves, we are one people, it is only a matter of adjusting.
It is tough to adapt to a new culture, let alone adapting to a new environment in a new country. However, as long as people study, work, or travel abroad, it is inevitable to encounter people from different cultural backgrounds. This then necessitates for us to develop trust and commitment in forming new relationships so that we can adapt well and quickly in new cultures. I have given my encounter in the paper of how I managed across two very different cultures, one being in my own country in Saudi Arabia and in Australia. Although it was difficult for me in the beginning to adopt working with people from different cultures, I adapted well and learned some valuable lessons in the process. I would, therefore, encourage people to travel the world and interact with people from different backgrounds, as this will play a central role in enhancing self-awareness and one’s personal identity.
Schneider, S.C and Barsoux, J.L 2003, Managing across cultures, London, Pearson Education.