Cultural Competency in a Remote Work Environment
Are you working with someone from a high context or low context culture?
High context cultures are those where meaning is gleaned indirectly from physical, social, and psychological contexts, whereas importance in low context cultures is directly encoded in verbal exchanges.
Are you working with someone who scores pretty highly on uncertainty avoidance?
Uncertainty avoidance involves the degree to which members of a particular culture feel threatened by unpredictable, uncertain, or unknown situations. While some cultures are known for their openness to ambiguity (Singapore), others inculcate a sense of cautiousness (Greece), which is reflected in everything from their level of innovation to their workforce and organizational structures.
Are you working with someone who hails from a culture with a vast power distance?
This is the extent to which members of a culture expect and accept that power is unequally distributed. For example, in Malaysia people generally buy into significant inequities in terms of power and access; on the other end of the spectrum, in Austria, the assumption is that few barriers to these exist.
The last word: when in doubt, be polite, and wait for your counterpart’s move. They will reveal their cultural preferences either overtly or subtly, and in doing so, will clue you in as to how they prefer to interact in a business context.