In the contemporary globalized world, business is about adjusting to and accommodating a mosaic like environment marked by varied cultural peculiarities and a culture specific approach towards things and issues (Berger & Hutington 2002)…
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The paper intends to give an insight into my interactions with the American delegates, while working with a UAE based Telecom Company. I must say that to an ordinary person not used to cultural variations, situations marked by cultural diversity may give way to some agony. Yet, to a person capable of understanding things in the context of the existing theories of cultural diversity, cultural cross-connections could be a source of much mirth, humor and laughter. Moreover, I also intend to evaluate these experiences of mine in the light of the knowledge and insights extended by the theorists like Hofstede and Hall. Part B: Cultural Mini-Case Study Situation Background We should have known more! I would specifically like to narrow my personal experiences around the communication approaches and the accompanying differences that turned out into a mutually funny and humorous situation, when we had a first meeting with a group of US business delegates, at UAE. I worked as a junior manager with a UAE based Telecom Company. From the very start it was obvious to me that our guests were not conversant with the Arab cultural orientation. Things were not so conducive on our side also. Most of our managers were expecting the Americans to be straightforward, task oriented and punctual, based on the cursory experiences they had acquired on their short vacations to the US (Klein & Kuperman 2008). Setting the Stage The meeting took place in a hotel and the initial interactions were marked by customary exchange of pleasantries. Our team comprised of seven members with a senior manager acting as the team leader, while the American delegation comprised of six people, two of which were women. The meeting was meant to discuss the issues pertaining to a proposed technological collaboration between the two firms. Case Description Those Agonizing Handshakes! The American head extended his hand to our senior manager and I must say his handshake was firm and strong. In contrast, our manager’s handshake was gentle and prolonged. It was obvious that the guest intended to end the handshake, but our manager kept on gently holding his hand for a few more seconds, while exchanging courtesies. The consternation was quiet obvious on the faces of our guest and the American delegates. To me who was aware that the Americans doubted the sexual orientation of my manager, going by his prolonged and gentle handshake, it was getting difficult to hold laughter (Henderson 1994). Now it was the Americans’ turn to commit the blunder. There were three ladies in our delegation and the American managers moved on to shake hands with them, as they were doing with other males. However, when we avoided their handshake, they again looked disturbed and annoyed. It was obvious that they were not aware that the UAE was a culture affiliated to Muslim values, as per which women were not expected to shake hands with men (Al-Sayegh 2001). The ludicrousness of the situation was further accentuated when the American ladies proceeded to shake hands with more shy than annoyed male members of our team. Personally speaking the whole thing seemed quite funny to me, though I was sympathetic of the plight of our American friends. I hope some of them felt the same. The Way We Talk Once the customaries were over, the proposed meeting proceeded in the hotel boardroom. Though both the sides were respectful towards eachother, there existed marked differences in the communication approaches of the two teams. While, on our side, we left the important issues to the senior managers, on the American side, even the junior managers posed questions and queries regarding the salient issues (Fredrick 1995). Also, the American head
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