Christina/ June 8, 2010/ Culture

I am currently taking part in a “cultural competence” training course. A field, I have been engaged in and fascinated with in a while. Especially with regard to the deployment of so called expatriates, who are often, to my mind, send insufficiently prepared to subsidiaries abroad. It is often neglected by companies that such employees are regarded there as ambassadors of their organisation.

Last time at the seminar the „critical incidents“ method was being introduced to explain cultural dimensions and cultural grammar. This method can be roughly described as a critical intercultural situation respectively a misunderstanding based on cultural differences.

In other words: „working with the critical incident method can be described as the collection of situations that are either experienced as being problematic or especially successful. It aims at the solution of practical problems and hopes to contribute to the development and boosting of intercultural competences. (/p)

A situation can be described as critical if it results in negative consequences for one of the involved persons. It is being described as especially successful, if it results in positive consequences for one of the involved parties. A detailed analysis of the critical situation enables the development of handling and processing strategies for the involved parties.

The „critical incident“ method can help reflecting the situations and thus boost intercultural learning and understanding.

Today, I’d like to tell such a story that happened to me in 1996 when I live in Jordan. I am confident that this story will surprise some readers positively.

In 1996 I spent two exchange semesters in Jordan. Among other things I worked as a journalist for the Jordan Times. During my residence I received a grant for the preparation of the study „The Jordanian Computer Market – An Investors Guide“. The research for the study and the interviews were being conducted in Jordan. At that time I did not own a laptop yet. Therefore I did not know who and where to write the report. One of my interviewees offered me spontaneously a computer and a workstation.

In the beginning I was not sure whether that offer was for real or the guy was just trying to be nice. Actually, I visited him in his small, moderate but friendly company where he had already vacated a room for me, providing a work station and a printer! After some time I learned that one of his employees had to clear his work place for me! I really felt uncomfortable with the situation as I did not mean to replace the other guy. Either way, that would never had happened in Germany, that a foreigner with no obvious ties to the company would be offered an office of its own!

This was a clear demonstration of the proverbial Arab hospitality for me. An act of kindness and helpfulness that’s really lacking in Germany.

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