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Respecting Cultural Diversity In Business Situations

Initially, I took the quiz regarding Cross-Cultural Awareness 1. I was genuinely surprised at how poorly I did on the quiz, since I have considered myself to be relatively adept when it comes to cross-cultural awareness. In addition, I have always assumed that this would manifest itself positively when it comes to interacting with individuals and small groups in business situations. I generally believe that I have sensitivity when it comes to being aware of cultural differences and diversity, and the way that this would translate into a respectful and successful interaction with people of different ethnicities and racial groups.

I think that I have strength when it comes to this area, because I do acknowledge cultural differences in a way that is usually experienced as having a tolerant attitude towards others, as well as an openness to respecting the fact that other cultures may regard the behavior and attitudes of Americans completely differently than their own cultural attitudes. Instead, I was able to identify that in fact, I can be somewhat ignorant about the nonverbal and cultural cues that are being expressed by people of different cultural backgrounds. In order to build on the strengths that I have regarding tolerance and acceptance of cultural differences, I clearly need to prepare myself when I am coming into contact with a diverse group of professional colleagues by learning as much as I can about the cultural differences. This will help me to be prepared to engage with them in a way that is sensitive and respectful of those social differences.

My score on the first quiz clearly indicates that what I have always believed was my strength in terms of being tolerant of differences does not necessarily mean that my behavior is appropriate when it comes to interacting with professionals from different cultural groups. In order to be successful professionally, I need to study the way that different ethnic and racial groups expect to be treated in a professional setting. In addition, I need to be sure that if I am expecting to form professional relationships with people from different cultural backgrounds, I am well versed in the way that people expect me to interact with them on a professional basis. To do otherwise will definitely result in failed attempts to form professional contacts because I may be offensive or ignorant when it comes to being cognizant of what is expected of me in my professional relationships.

The second quiz that I took was about dining etiquette. I was a little bit less surprised about my score, first because it was better than the first quiz which gave me a score of zero, but also because I have been in many situations where I was dining with people from other countries. For this quiz, I received a score of 6/10, and even though this was not a passing grade, at least it was better than the first quiz, when I completely failed it. I was not surprised about my score, 6/10, because as I say, I have had the experience of eating with people who were from many different countries, so that I have some knowledge about cultural differences at the dinner table. In regards to dining etiquette, I think that I do have some strengths in the area of intercultural awareness such as knowing that for example, various things are considered rude or simply unacceptable. Dropping one's chopsticks in Asian countries was known to me as something that was considered to be rude, and the same holds true for other practices such as not offering food from one's plate as well as eating a banana with a knife and fork and being aware that vodka is the most popular drink in several Eastern European countries.

As in the first quiz, I am able to identify certain weaknesses such as not being as knowledgeable as I might be regarding customs pertaining to etiquette when dining. It would also be essential for me to make sure that before dining with guests from any part of the world, I would need to do some research about exactly what customs are acceptable and which are not acceptable when it comes to behavior at the dinner table. There are specific steps that I would need to do in order to build on my strengths and improve areas of weakness when it comes to etiquette involving people from other cultures. As stated, I definitely need to read about behaviors that are acceptable and/or desirable in regards to dining with people from other cultures. This would have to involve reading up on etiquette with specific cultures in advance of making arrangements to have lunch or dinner, or any meal in fact, with people who are from different cultures than myself.

It is extremely important for managers to increase their level of cultural awareness because it is so easy to offend people by behaving in ways that are counter to their cultural expectations. On the other hand, it is also easy to form good relationships with people that are based on cultural sensitivity regarding differences among groups of people that come from diverse backgrounds. If I am doing business with people from a certain country, it really does not take an inordinate amount of time to research appropriate etiquette in advance of meeting with the people. The payoff for being well educated about cultural customs regarding etiquette can be potentially significant because people tend to appreciate it if they feel that you have taken the time and made an effort to familiarize yourself with their cultural background and customs. Even if it is not always possible to get 100% right, I believe that people greatly appreciate making the effort to understand cultural differences and try one's best to behave accordingly. For example, the first time I went to France, although I only spoke French moderately well, I distinctly remember that people appeared to be very appreciative that I was making the effort, and responded by being extremely helpful. At times, in fact, people corrected my French in a way that was not offensive or rude, but was clearly an attempt to be helpful for my own good. In particular, whenever I have tried to speak Spanish or French in countries where those languages were widely spoken, the people with whom I was communicating always appeared to be appreciative that I was making an effort to communicate with them on their terms. This is very different from what I have observed with many Americans, who appeared to expect everyone else to be speaking English. My experience has been that people are genuinely touched when one makes an effort to communicate with them in their own language. Although my attempts to speak different languages when in other countries have never been as good as I would like, I feel that making the effort has resulted in a greater effort to have mutually beneficial relationships on a professional as well as a personal basis.

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