When a yes-loving culture and a no-loving culture meet..

When an Indian “who likes to show the more positive sides of things” and a Scandinavian or Northern European “who feels most comfortable with persons who answers a clear no” meet, they should both pay careful attention to the communication style. Misunderstandings can easily arise. If we look at the situaiton slightly differently, in stead of seeing an upcoming threat, we could see it as an opportunity to learn something about our own way of communicating – and to create a totally new unique global way of communicating. Before we talk more about how to benefit from the differences, let us take a look at the yes-loving and no-loving cultures that are at play here.

What do Danes and Indians say about each other?
During Culturewise’s many workshops, a lot of Indians and Danes have shared their experiences of working together. One of the main differences always mentioned by participants are the different ways in which yes and no are used. Indians typically mention that Danes are very straightforward and blunt in their communication and just say “no”. Danes often experience that they DO NOT often hear a “no” from their Indian colleagues, and that they hear the answer “yes” far too much.

Build A Third Culture
In interactions between yes-loving culture and the no-loving culture, the typical question is: “How can we avoid misunderstandings?”. In stead, we could ask: “Can we learn something new?”Culturewise would recommend your team to follow the two steps of creating “A third culture”:
1) Create awareness about the differences and similarities between the cultures involved
2) Look back: What has worked well so far?
3) Create clarity about expectations: What are OUR expectations to good communication?
3) Looking ahead: How can we build new succesful ways of working that is based on what has worked well and based on our expectations?

An example of Third Culture: Is this “A Danish Yes” or “An Indian Yes”?
Culturewise once worked with a purely virtual team which often had discussions about how things worked in their team. One day, they discussed the communication style of their team. Someone had noticed that Indians and Danes in the team had different ways of using yes, and that this sometimes created misunderstandings in the team. The team discussed the different ways of using of yes and the background for this, and in fact they had great fun discussing this.The team arrived at a very practical solutions that if anyone was ever in doubt about what a “yes” means, they could clear this up by asking: “Is this a Danish yes or an Indian yes?”

This is one example of a Third Culture showcasing the benefits of working with A Third Culture:

1) The team got to know about why team members sometimes act in different ways, and sometimes in similar ways
2) The team had great fun
3) The team itself designed it’s own Third Culture Solution – which works!

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