Research from Stanford shows the answer may lie in your native language, revealing insight into critical cultural differences resulting from native language influences. And these differences can have extraordinary impacts on the productivity and effectiveness on cross-cultural teams.
For example, cultures prioritizing ‘individualism’ and ‘internal control’ would tend to frame the scenario as ‘I missed the plane’, while cultures prioritizing ‘collectivism’ and ‘external control’ would frame the scenario as ‘the plane left without me.’ And the reason these cultures see the same events differently lie, at least in part, in the influence that language has on one’s worldview.
For example, the Stanford research details the influence that speaking Japanese or Spanish or English has on one’s perception and understanding of peoples’ roles in events and accidents, and finds that speaking Japanese or Spanish or English as your native language (as cited in the research) will manifest in a different sense of ‘who is to blame’ for the missed plane.
Navigating such differences across cultures is critical to the effectiveness of cross-cultural teams. Did she miss the deadline, or did something happen outside of her control that caused the deadline to be missed? One’s perspective tends to be different, depending on whether someone is sitting in Peru or London… or in Mumbai or Chicago.
Resolving these differences is an important focus at LCW, and at the heart of modules in both our “Navigating Cultures” and “Working with…” solutions. For example, LCW’s Describe-Interpret-Navigate (D-I-N) model helps you interpret an event or problem from multiple perspectives, and understand where you personally have learned to ‘interpret’ a scenario as you do, compared to how a colleague has learned to interpret the very same thing. So one interpretation would be: “I’m not responsible for the plane leaving me” (or the deadline being missed); the alternate interpretation: “I missed the flight.” (I missed the deadline).