Great article on Twitter- http://quickbase.intuit.com/blog/2011/09/26/how-work-effectively-across-cultures/ Alexandra Levit.
Key points from personal experience-
Prepare for some discomfort- simple things like ordering at starbucks are emotionally intense experiences, being ok with regressing to baby steps and not getting frustrated is essential to not suffering a meltdown in a public place
Beware of sterotypes- Americans are loud, Arabs are lazy are just two of the ones I’ve encountered. This is unhelpful and puts barriers between you and truly understanding the individuals you’re dealing with.
Create a hybrid culture- I learnt this the hard way. There is a fine line between accepting a culture for better or worse and acting like a colonialist, chanting mantra’s from the homeland. Classic comment I heard in Dubai International Airport Costa coffee (second coffee reference?!) “They wouldn’t get away with service this poor in London”, well we weren’t in London! Taking the best of both worlds is tough, you have to be willing to compromise things you wouldn’t dream of doing in your own country. You have to be willing to amend, adapt or pause some of your values. You have to be clear about your mandate; best doesn’t equal own country ways of doing things.
Thanks Alexnadra, this came at just the right time!