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Through conversations on one of the “external to SAP” environments I participate in (yes, there are things I participate in that extend beyond SAP), I came across a request by one of the members for gathering “best practices” in collaborating online with a culture other than ones own and using social media tools and building community in Asia.

The request to explore important considerations in sharing knowledge with other cultures mapped very well to a subscription website I presently belong to that houses “culturegrams” and enables the parents of high school exchange students and families hosting exchange students to get a little better understanding of their children’s host family or to be more sensitive to the behavior of their student guests. (the subscription is a gift from AFS intercultural programs to participants and their families)

Having both hosted a student from Japan last year and presently having a daughter hosted by families in Latin America, I was very interested in the idea of creating a repository of “Cultural Cues” that are based on our own demographics in SCN.  Many folks here in the community live and breathe multiple cultures.  I’ve lived over half my life outside of my native land and work with a very diverse group of people, some of whom share that experience of living outside their birth country.

I’d love to celebrate some of the tips the community can offer about regional behaviours and norms and language sensitivity in a community wiki page which I’ve called: Culture Cue Cards.

I started off with some links from China as this was the first contents I happened upon from an external community manager with a great deal of experience and knowledge around Chinese communities.  She supplied a number of useful links which I’ve embedded here.

I recall there were some interesting discussions around this topic in the forum threads.  If anyone can link to them here, I’d appreciate that, or even better, link them back into the wiki space.

Having the skills to navigate a cross-cultural conversation is a combination of common sense, open mindedness, patience, sense of humor and of course having a bit of a cultural briefing is an extra boon.

I’ll start off with some generic ideas of things to think about when communicating across cultures.

  1. Avoid slang or at least attempt to explain clearly if using local expressions.
  2. Test for misunderstandings (this is a good one for any online environment regardless of culture)
  3. Be respectful of differing world views
  4. Consider what commitments might mean in different cultures
  5. Consider what primary obligations might mean in different cultures (family over business priorities)
  6. Consider that some humor doesn’t transcend culture

I’m sure some of you have creative, helpful and fun ways of sharing other examples. 

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  1. Lukas Weigelt

    It’s always interesting/exciting to see how culture clashes can happen and what ‘rules of the game’ there are to avoid them :>

    I still had two of such threads you mentioned, bookmarked. Here you go:

    http://scn.sap.com/people/steinermatt/blog/2010/07/08/cultural-awareness-working-with-israelis

    http://scn.sap.com/people/melissa.lamson/blog/2006/07/24/german-american-cooperation-unexpected-cultural-differences

    I especially like Melissa Lamson ‘s post aboput German-American issues, since I am half German half American myself 😉

    Cheers, Lukas

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