Cross-cultural communication

A moment ago, I listened to Julien S. Bourelle having a TED-talk about how culture is affecting our behavior. He makes several good points addressing how cultural differences can lead to miscommunication.


Bourelle says there are three ways one can relate to culture; to confront, to complain or to conform. If you confront you think that your behavior is the right behavior. In your head, you are doing nothing wrong behaving the way you do. The problem is that another person may interpret your actions as rude or inappropriate, and that is merely because of cultural differences. If you complain, then you isolate yourself from your surrounding culture, making a social bubble where you interact only with people of your culture. These people get left out of society and have a hard time interacting with new people. At last, you can conform, which, in this case, means to adapt to norms and behaviors of the culture you live in. Bourelle says you can benefit from the diversity only if you observe, learn and understand their behavior.


We observe the world through cultural glasses. The behavior of one person can be easily misunderstood merely because of cultural differences and the way the bevahior is interpeted. Bourelle gave a great example from Norway. It is unusual to sit down beside another person at for example a bus stop unless there is plenty of space between the two persons. It is also a common phenomenon that the person sitting will move further away or even stand up because their personal space was invaded. If someone with a religious expression sits down beside a Norwegian and the Norwegian moves away it may look like hatred or racism, but it is only a normal behavior. Bourelle says it is important to alter the cultural glasses to change to way we perceive a certain behavior.


Julien S. Bourelle had an amazing TED-talk explaining different cultural behavior. His examples supported his statements in a way that everyone related, even me.

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