Fräulein, we cannot possibly meet that deadline!”
I remember well my German friend who uttered those words to me when we encountered some major obstacles in the operations setup for a location in Germany.
I replied in typical New York fashion, “My friend, I’m just one of those crazy Americans who believes that with enough people and enough money, we can meet the deadline.”
He laughed…and we did.
I smile as I think of that story, but it does illustrate the difference in cultures. We Americans tend to not take “no” for an answer easily. We will push through where angels fear to trod, while some cultures (in the Orient, for example) would be quite offended at such a notion. They are very gracious by nature. There are some cultures who seemingly never sleep, and some who are known for their laid-back lifestyles.
As we have become an international society, we have begun to learn how to work with cultures that differ from ours. Notice I did not say we have learned to change the culture – that is not the goal. The goal is to bring out the best in each person and to utilize their strengths of culture as well to accomplish the goal.
I am excited to share some of my experiences in international business on the upcoming Leadership Insight show on March 18. My dealings with other cultures have been some of my most enriching life experiences. And I have learned so much from meeting such wonderful friends across the world.
What is one of your most memorable cross cultural business experiences?