Are pen pals even still a thing? As a child, pen pals allowed children and students the ability to increase their network of friendships to individuals who they could not particularly build an “in real life” friendship given the circumstances. Before the vast technological advances, it was relatively difficult keeping in contact with individuals on a regular basis, but due to the induction of internet and its impressive expansion, the gaps have been reduced mightily. With that, pen pals have evolved to something increasingly bigger given the reduction, or lack, of limitations (no more need to pay for postage). Now, we are capable to communicate and learn about people simply by pressing send. AS a result, we can gain much more individualized insight on different cultures in a matter of minutes. Culture is defined as “the collective programming of the mind that distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from another (Hofstede, 2011). Pennsylvania State University (2016) defines globalism as “the connection of countries from around the world in many different domains such as economics, government, culture and any other human idea or product.” Globalism increases interconnectivity and leads to multiculturalism, but it also can have some conflicting effects, too.
The issues that arise from multiculturalism, come in the form of the augmented possibility of a difference of the weight of certain values. Given that cultures differ primarily on six dimensions consisting of power distance, uncertainty avoidance, individualism/collectivism, masculinity/femininity, long-term/short-term orientation and indulgence/restraint (PSU, 2016), any cross-cultural conversation which lacks sensitivity to the dimensional stance of the opposing culture, will be met with strong conflict which will not be easily digested. This is how stereotyping sprouted into reality. Because of our established expectations of certain cultures, we may begin to believe any and all of a certain demographic will act in the same manner. Therefore, it is vital for all that will be doing business, learning about other cultures, or just conversing across countries’ borders, to learn as much about the culture that is planned to be immersed. Learning about the dimensions and their weights within the countries is a fantastic starting point in ensuring there is minimal stereotyping and miscommunication.
Organizations may use social media in order to communicate overseas. Personally, within my organization the introduction of Yammer as a source of information has helped to infuse new ways of working into our best practices in the workplace. Given not all countries abide by the same rules, learning from the experiences in other cultures has helped at least spark a new level of conversation in order to break through some obstacles. For instance, not too long ago, my location had an issue with a certain system suggesting more workload than necessary, which was creating conflict and controversy within and between functions. Luckily, one of our team members spent time perusing through Yammer and stumbled upon a store in Spain experiencing the same issue, but found a resolution. The Spain location offered suggestions in order to help the cause and soon after the issues were resolved. This scenario has proved the usefulness of the different laws and standards in another global location given the fix would not had been allowed without authorization from corporate.
The world is becoming smaller as a result of the infusion of media technological advances. Therefore, it is increasingly useful and honorable to learn about other cultures abilities and gaps in order to make the best decision in terms of interaction. There will be conflict, but reducing the intensity via education will help keep the group on track.
Hofstede, G., & Hofstede, G.J. (n.d.a). Culture. Retrieved from http://www.geerthofstede.nl/culture (Links to an external site.)
Hofstede, G., & Hofstede, G. J. (n.d.b). Dimensions of national cultures. Retrieved from http://www.geerthofstede.nl/dimensions-of-national-cultures (Links to an external site.)
Pennsylvania State University. (2016). Globalism/Multiculturalism. [Online Lecture]. Retrieved from psu.instructure.com