Group C consists of Colombia (South America), Greece (Europe), Côte d’Ivore (West Africa), and Japan (East Asia). These nations represent very particular and separated cultures from around the world.
Colombia was thought to be the site of the legendary El Dorado, so it was quickly conquered by the Spanish. It has a reputation for being a dangerous nation for foreign business people to visit. Many nations have a list available of dangerous companies that have connections with the narcotraffickers. Colombians tend to have long greeting rituals which can include inquiries about health, welfare, location, and other things. Like most South American nations, they tend to stand closer while conversing, yet Colombians don’t typically have as much physical contact. It is considered rude to yawn in public, and tapping fingers on your elbow indicates someone is stingy. The American “okay” sign holds a different meaning, when a Colombian places the finger circle on his nose, it indicates someone is homosexual. It is offensive to hold both the index fingers up.
Colombians score extremely low on both, the individualism and pragmatism dimension. With a score of 13 in individualism, Colombians rank as one of the most collectivist societies in the world; in other words, it lies amongst the most collectivistic cultures in the world, beaten only by Ecuador, Panama and Guatemala. It is important for them to be part of a group and often this can be a corporate group. Loyalty to companies, family, and other groups is almost unmatched. The low score of 13 for pragmatism describes the society of Colombia as normative. People greatly respect traditions, and have need to establish absolute truth. Colombians have a high score of indulgence, which shows their tendencies to enjoy life, and have fun. Their Uncertainty Avoidance is also high because they constantly show mechanisms for avoiding ambiguity.
Modern Greece has had an eventful history since World War I and only regained a democratic government in 1975. Tracing its roots back to ancient Greece (Hellas), it is considered the cradle of all Western civilization, the birthplace of democracy, Western philosophy,the Olympic Games, Western literature and historiography, political science, major scientific and mathematical principles, and Western drama, including both tragedy and comedy. The cultural and technological achievements of Greece greatly influenced the world, with many aspects of Greek civilization being imparted to the East through Alexander the Great’s campaigns, and to the West through its incorporation into the Roman Empire.
In Greece, moving the head upward slightly often indicates no. However, many of the younger generation are moving towards using North American gestures for yes and no which can be confusing. Anger is sometimes expressed with a smile by the Greeks. When giving thanks, they often place their hand over their heart, and verbally express it. They also tend to physically demonstrative, often kissing, hugging, and walking arm in arm. This physically demonstrative behavior can be surprising to many other Europeans, and often is gender irrelevant. Greece is 98% Greek Orthodox, and this is pronounced greatly in the culture. Shame and guilt are not emphasized in the church.
The Greeks have an Uncertainty Avoidance score of 100 which is the highest out of any nation surveyed. This shows that the Greeks always have the unknown looming over them: the unforeseen is always there ready to “lay an ambush”. The “sword of Damocles”, impending over the head of all of us, can illustrate this anxious and stressing feeling about life. In Greece, as in all high Uncertainty Avoidance societies, bureaucracy, laws and rules are very important to make the world a safer place to live in. Greeks need to have good and relaxing moments in their everyday life, chatting with colleagues, enjoying a long meal or dancing with guests and friends. Due to their high score in this dimension Greeks are very passionate and demonstrative people: emotions are easily shown in their body language. The Greek myth about the “birth” of the world tells us a lot about high Uncertainty Avoidance: at the very beginning there was only Chaos but then Cronos (Time) came in to organize life and make it easier to manage.
The Japanese are a very traditional and rather closed off society. Often they are very hesitant towards outsiders and protective of their culture. The Japanese culture is typically very respectful and considerate. Often a “no” when negotiating is expressed with a softened phrase such as, “I’ll consider it”. It is important to be indirect when dealing with the Japanese, never make any sharp accusations. Bowing in Japanese culture indicates the status of the relationship between you and your counterpart. If the person you bow to is equal, try to bow equally low. Always avoid any kind of dramatic hand movements or gestures. The American “okay” sign means money to the Japanese. Pointing is considered impolite much like in the U.S. Sniffing, snorting, or spitting are acceptable in public, but nose blowing is not. The Japanese do not approve of male and females touching in a public setting. In conversation, Japanese tend to stand further apart than North Americans typically do.
The Japanese have very high scores for masculinity, uncertainty avoidance, and pragmatism. The Japanese are also mildly collective, so you do not see the individualistic drive of a strong masculine culture. Instead, the drive for excellence is partially group based. From a young age, the Japanese are taught to compete in teams. The uncertainty avoidance of the Japanese is often attributed to the imminent danger of natural disasters. This causes them to cling to rules, structure, and traditions. The Japanese are some the most ceremonial and ritualistic societies in the world. The Japanese also see themselves as “a short moment, in the long history of mankind”, this explains how they score so high in pragmatism. The Japanese attempt to do their best for the good of society, and have a sense of fatalism.
Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire)
Ivory Coast is known as the “Jewel of West Africa” due to its relative economic prosperity. It was previously a French colony, and many French customs remain, as well as the language. Like many African nations, Côte d’Ivoire is home to many different ethnicities and native languages. The typical greeting is a hand shake. When a woman greets someone after the first time, three kisses on each cheek is typical. Muslims make up 39% of the population, so Islamic cultural principles are present when dealing with them. Ivory Coast is fairly hierarchical so be respectful and humble when speaking to someone of a higher status. Family is at the core of Ivorian culture and is an important part of the view on life. A few gestures are to be avoided, do not extend your middle finger in anger, do not point at people in public, and belching in public is considered rude. Anger or affection may be demonstrated greatly in public.
To learn more about the other 28 cultures represented at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, go back to the main article on this topic.