Cross-cultural consultant Rochelle Kopp shares her framework for bridging cultural differences in a way that recognizes the perspectives of both sides. Applicable to a wide variety of situations and issues, her recommendations will give you another perspective on dealing with cultural gaps in a positive way. She’ll also draw on her expertise in Japanese culture to share some of the aspects of Japanese culture that you’ll most want to be aware of during your time here, and some unique Japanese words that provide a glimpse into the heart of Japan.
The traditional approach when someone has a different cultural approach than yours is to label anything different than how you yourself would do it as “negative” and insist on doing things your way. A better approach to bridging cultural differences:
- Open mind — might this be a cultural difference?
- Learn about the cultural difference
- Adopt bridging strategies
- Creating a “hybrid” of the best of both approaches
What’s essential is understanding what’s most important for you and for the other person (your values and “interests”). Some aspects of Japanese culture that are both wonderful and that typically cause misunderstandings, with examples (and how you might encounter them while in Japan):
- Lack of specificity
- Process orientation