Workplace blogs
Workplace blogs

How Cultural Differences Can Show Up In Your Workplace

Guest blog by Tina Varughese

On a recent trip to Mazatlan, Mickey, our gregarious activities coordinator, was leading a game of “Name that Movie Tune”. The game seemed to be geared for Mexicans and Canadians as Mickey expertly switched songs between famous Mexican movies and North American hits such as, “Scooby Doo”, “Ghostbusters”, “Casper” (try singing that theme song…I dare you…not easy), “Robin Hood” and “Mission Impossible” (which wasn’t that impossible to guess). What happened next was interesting. Our cultural differences and ultimately cultural values started shining through. Mickey started to shout, “Team Mexico” and the Mexicans at the pool would work collectively to guess the answers. If they got one correct they wouldn’t celebrate outrageously or even ‘high five’ among themselves. They’d simply get points for their correct answers and one wouldn’t even know who actually got the answer correct. We just knew it was “Team Mexico”.  When Mickey shouted out, “Team Canada” the Canadians did not work collaboratively. They worked individually forging teams between family members and friends. When a Canadian ‘team’ got a question correct they’d hoot, holler, take a drink, high five, and sometimes shout, “woop- there it is!!” (yeah- ok, maybe that was just my team but I digress) Cultural differences and cultural values, depending on where someone is from, will inadvertently expose itself at the workplace sometimes presenting challenges and, alas, sometimes presenting opportunities. However, if managers and leaders did not know of this cultural phenomenon they could simply label one colleague as ‘meek, weak, and quiet’ whereas another one could be labeled as ‘aggressive, overbearing, and goal-oriented’.

Knowledge is power. Understanding cultural differences is no longer a nicety, but a necessity in today’s global workplace.

Oh…and by the way….Team Tina Won. Just sayin. Though the prize that Mickey offered was to dance in front of the vacationers.

Tina Varughese is a speaker and trainer who specializes in cross cultural communication. Tina is one of three other fabulous speakers joining Michael Kerr on November 15, 2017 at the Customer Service Leadership Summit in Calgary, where Tina will present her raved about talk, “50 Shades of Beige – Successful Sales and Service to all Cultures.  

To book your table now, cruise on over to Customer Service Leadership Summit.

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