Intercultural Awareness

Intercultural Awareness

When I was working  at a Japanese company in Germany where only five Japanese people were working among some 350 German employees, I offered Japanese language and culture lessons to those who were interested. During my first lesson I asked my German colleagues  to describe the Japanese or Japan in a few words. The majority answered “The Japanese work long hours.” Not “hard“, but “long“. I liked this description and thought it apt. If you stay at the office a long time, it does not necessarily mean that you have worked hard. You could have worked efficiently and effectively within your working hours. So after a while, in true German fashion, I started leaving work at 5pm when I did not have overtime. However, this new Germanized attitude was not appreciated by my Japanese colleagues.  Getting to grips with a new culture  is something that needs to be felt rather than explained.  So this is an example intercultural awareness which is something we all have to sharpen.

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