You start hearing things like, The French, yeah they're like this and that, The Americans, the Japanese do this that way or they have these habits and that. In my line of work I've dealt with Brits, Americans, Japanese, Koreans, Australians, Pakistanis, people from ASEAN nations, Indians from the sub-continent, Indians in Dubai and Indians from downtown Sentul.
You approach a representative from each country differently such as when an Indian sub contractor points out to a swamp next to a river and says with conviction, " this is good place for our concert." , i just hold my tongue and nod sagely as I know the dude is not kidding. He means it. Sincerely. It's just that their outlook is totally different just like when an American contract document is airlifted by a C-30 army transport from LA and lands on my desk in all it's 30,000 page glory, when a Malaysian contract could run you to about 15 pages. Again different mindsets.
I WAS going to list down the list of the eccentric business habits of people from different countries BUT realized that I still have a couple more years left of corporate dealings so it might not be to wise since although this is a semi - anonymous blog, shit has a way of tracing it's way back to me.
SO, I then try to be a happy Smurf and think about what is positive about working with different cultures.
It takes a while. A loooooooong while. Then I realise, dammit, the positives of anyone ranging from any nationality is essentially the same. Put an Englishman, Japanese, French, Singaporean, Indian, Australian and a Malaysian, in a bar and they're all behave like a bunch of 12 year old schoolboys. You'll get the standard ingredients of male camaraderie, the intensity and passion when they talk about supporting a pissant poor football club like Queen of the South somewhere in Scotland, that cincai anything can do attitude if someone spills a jug of beer and everyone laughs and helps out to clean up the mess before ALL volunteer to buy the replacement jug (except the Indian who just then had to take a toilet break). In that moment, in that bar all these men could be cut from the same cloth. If the Malaysian got drunk and fell of a pier all the men would be there trying to save his hide. Except the Englishman who would be a little pissed off as he had to leave his Guinness or the Japanese dude who would be engrossed belting out "My Way" with the Korean and Chinese and missed the whole incident (major racial typecasting here!). But seriously, cut down to the core feel good instincts of any race and religion, if all of them were contented, if there were no fears or insecurities, we would basically behave almost similarly.
BUT throw in a business or office environment and everyone reverts back to their respective ways of dealing with a situation.
This even extends to the office environment. Where the office rat, pain in the ass, gossip can and ARE actually normal people but once they walk past reception they knives get sharpened, tongues start wagging and the secretary's cat gets kidnapped.
People eh? If only they replaced Human Resource with a Jamaican Rastafarian and held all meetings in the Company Bar and Grill then we would all be one big happy contented family...