Cultural shock – fun or confusion?2010/01/09 17:00:00 Written by EwaMaslowska
Every foreigner living or working abroad is exposed to cultural shock. Whether it will be a harrowing experience, fun, or just confusion depends on the individual’s ability to adapt to the new environment.
Do you think the effects of cultural shock have ever touched you?
Whenever you think that the local community is strange or is behaving weirdly, it is a typical symptom of experiencing cultural difference, which in effect could lead to a real shock. It is an alarm bell proclaiming that you are different.
If an Englishman who is living abroad tried to drive on the left side of the road as is the custom in his country, it would be a disaster, and no doubt lead to a serious accident.
A cultural system like a language is a social product and is assimilated from our environment while we are growing up. It means that our lifestyle, our way of thinking, our value system, our communication strategy are assimilated as our natural codes from living in society. Usually, we are not even aware of it, although it is the foundation of our identity.
Only the confrontation with a different social or ethnic group makes us conscious of the differences. Naturally, behaviour different from our rules is considered strange. While it is strange for us, it is equally strange for the other side. While living among foreigners, we have the opportunity to conceptualize the differences and compare them with our system. Awareness of the differences is the first step of adaptation. The next one is to learn and understand the new system. The final step is to adopt it and to follow it up.
If you have problems with team building in Poland or with developing proper relationships with your Polish staff or colleagues, I will be pleased to help. However, to discuss the problem, I will need some information from you about your negative experiences. What caused communication difficulties? What kind of situation made you confused? What do you find most irritating in the behavior of Polish people? If you would like to share your experiences, I will try to explain the differences in the comments on my blog.