Assertiveness Across Cultures

USA: “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.”
Japan: “The nail that sticks out gets hammered down.”
Germany: “Wes Brot ich ess, des Lied ich sing. [He who pays the piper, calls the tune.]”
Roman Empire: “Divide et impera!”
This here is an excellent post by OD expert Guillaume Gevrey about the difficulties on how to gauge one’s behavior in respect to power distance and individualism/collectivism.
As a German living in the United States I often have to readjust my assertiveness, especially since I was raised in an environment that hammered into me that “Hochmut kommt vor dem Fall” (eng.: “Arrogance comes before the fall”).
Expatriates across the globe are dealing with similar issues, as it isn’t always easy to find the right belance between one’s learned and culturally determined behavioral preference and the cultural norms in the host culture.

Musings of a French OD consultant in India

ImageCourtesy: http://www.dilbert.com

Following my recent post on “4 Steps to Assertiveness? Not That Simple“, my dear friend and revered interculturalist, Dianne Hofner Saphiere  posted the following comment:

“Dear Guillaume, in my experience perceptions of “assertiveness” are extremely culturally relative and, thus, should be handled carefully. After working for years in East Asia, for example, my “proud and powerful” presentation stye was perceived by non-Asians as insecure, lacking in confidence and self esteem—which it was most certainly was not. I would add a caution that people not to jump to conclusions about someone’s self esteem due to perceptions of assertiveness. When we speak up, how, with what body language, are closely linked to respect values, harmony and truth values, collectivism and individualism values, as well as assertiveness. Thanks!”

Dear Dianne, as i was saying in my reply to your comment, I cannot agree more. Culture definitely has a huge…

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