It can be easy to assume that your own culture is “right” or “better” than others. But when you're trying to develop your International IQ, it's important to see your North American traits objectively. The North American Identity section in the main MyWorldAbroad site (for registered users) describes some of the most common North American traits, both inside and outside the workplace. Here are a few of the top tips from the section:
- You have cultural baggage! You may not have been aware of it until now, but when you travel abroad or interact with people from other countries, you take with you your standards, customs and perceptions about the working world. In order to succeed at home or abroad, you’ll need to become aware of your own biases, as well as your country's place on the world stage.
- Know your own traits: North Americans tend to be preoccupied with upward mobility, progress, concrete goals, efficiency and the sense that time is money.
- North Americans believe in a work/life dichotomy: We tend to view our work lives as completely distinct from our personal lives. But in many other cultures, socializing with colleagues and inquiring after their relatives is not only acceptable, it’s imperative for creating a good working relationship.
- Hierarchies are important: Although North America is primarily egalitarian, many cultures have a strict hierarchy and interactions are largely based on one’s level within that hierarchy. Know your peers, superiors and subordinates.
- Be open to other models of doing business: You may find that your host culture prizes personal relationships over speed of project completion, or perhaps they hold different views on punctuality, formality or communication. Adapt to these new models and go with the flow.
We encourage you to think about the elements of your professional approach that may be influenced by North American cultural norms. Related reading on the main MyWorldAbroad site (for registered users):