Stereotypes get a bad rap. As people who want to develop global culture agility, we tend to be overtly cautious from getting influenced by cultural stereotypes whenever we interact with someone who is not from our native culture. However, we may still make a few frequent faux pas along the way. Here’s one. Asking a German about beer making (Yep! I have been guilty of that ) But interestingly, stereotypes are not bad. They contribute toward building an unconscious bias, which is natural. As humans we evolved to carry forward biases within our brains so that we increased our chances of survival. For instance, smelling as a quick test to assess if something could be ingested as food.
As a cross-cultural coach, I serve as a sherpa while my clients trek along the cross cultural terrains. Here is a quick road map.
1. Use stereotypes as a starting point to understand a culture. But, don’t stop there. The Do’s and Don’ts list was so 80s ;-D
2. Test your hypothesis. While you are testing, stay away from making major conclusive statements like, all men work 9-5 jobs or all women love pink color and chocolates)
3. Continue to customize and repeat as needed.
This is not THE END , it is just the beginning of developing a global culture mindset.