I don’t think until I arrived in a different country and worked in an extremely international setting that I realised the extent of how different cultures could be. Furthermore, what is perceived as a positive and significant value in one culture is easy to dismiss as negative, rude or backwards in another. Stereotypes, conflicts and miscommunications often arise when these cultural values clash. However, if you take what can be seen as a negative cultural trait and try and flip it to its positive cultural value, it can be helpful in seeing why people behave how they do.
|Negative perception||Positive Cultural Trait|
|Aloof and cold||Respect for personal boundaries|
|Loud and brash||Open and welcoming|
|Disingenuous or dishonest||Diplomatic|
|Rude or blunt||Honest and straighforward|
|Dramatic and intense||Passionate, responsive, empathetic|
|Intrusive or nosy||Interested, community orientated|
|Superficial relationships||Treats everyone with warmth|
|Unforthcoming and taciturn||Desires deep, genuine relationships|
|Over-familiar with superiors/elders||Egalitarian|
|Obsequious or passive||Respect for authority and social rank|
|Flippant||Relaxed and easy-going|
|Pompous or nitpicker||Respect for ceremony and rules|
I’ve seen in forums or heard in meetings people talking about how Khmer people are dishonest or don’t mean what they say. However, it made me laugh. As a Brit, diplomacy or tact is quite important (unless you’re a considered a close friend, then we’re really rude), so multiple times a day I would say something that other cultures would perceive as a lie. I did once try to point this out to those that said this, but I’m not sure if I was direct enough.
I’m definitely having to learn to be generous to others in terms of how I perceive them. I’m trying but it’s still very much a work in process. Which cultural traits values do you align with? Which negative traits do you see in others?