How UX design may benefit from cross cultural awareness?


I read a story on Medium recently that shared a UX designer’s experience in developing an App for a client in Russia, a culture which he was not familiar with.  Most UX designers assume that their design will be universal as long as the Language translation is in place. There are a few other factors that must be taken into account when working with an international client.  In the story the author referred to the Trompenaars theory  “The Seven Dimensions of Culture,” a model he published in “Riding the Waves of Culture.” The model is the result of interviews with more than 46,000 managers in 40 countries.

  • Use of Words and Graphics.  Every language uses typography that applies the required weight, emphasis to the information that is intended to communicate. It is essential to review this aspect along with the language translation process.
  • Knowledge about Target Demographic. While this factor is an obvious one as it influences the user experience, different cultures approach authority and relationship dynamics differently. For example, in many cultures, the demonstration of an older person in an image depicts that s/he may be an authority figure.
  • Cultural Nuances with use of Color. Various cultures use color schemes differently too. For instance, the use of dark green in Islamic cultures as it is considered religious and lucky. Designing technology with a lack of cross-cultural awareness lead to a loss in time and resources with low returns as the UX experience will not be empathetic to the target audience.  It is worth your while to invest time in conducting research on the UX culture profile as you roll out your app.


The Complete Guide to Cross-Cultural Design by Jônatas Vieira


Dear manager, This is your super power

What if I told you that the way you have been conversations with your direct reports is of no great value. Yes,  you read it correctly. What we consider as a meaningful conversation is actually rephrasing and reiteration. The other commonly committed mistake is quickly thinking of a somewhat similar incident or information and slapping it as soon as the conversation is over. The worst case is sharing the solution to a situation not knowing the specifics in its entirety; mostly done within the 2/3 of the conversation. You know that feeling when the recipient is mindlessly gazing at you and has left the conversation on a mental level as you finish your story.  By the end of this conversation, It felt like you just had a conversation with a squirrel, who happens to be your boss. You are frustrated, feeling undervalued because you were heard but not listened to.

Sad News- As a manager you unknowingly spiked the levels of the stress hormone cortisol and started a loop of mistrust in your team member.  The neuroscience of any conversation is how it is perceived by the brain. Did you know cortisol hormone is a slow releasing hormone and remains in our bodies for way longer than the feeling happy and cared for a hormone, oxytocin?

“Your team is frustrated and feeling undervalued because you often hear (them) but seldom listen. “

Here is the reality-  There is a cognitive overload on everything about on being the manager-coach coaching leader/servant leader etc. Truth is that “A servant leader has advanced listening skills.” and competent coaches have these skills too. The other reality is I know that you care about your team. You empower your team. You are your team’s biggest cheerleader.  Unfortunately, you are pressed for time every day because you are juggling your schedule between meetings and having (mostly on the surface) fire-fighting conversations.  The long-term training course in listening is a prescription you will never use because you learn when it is necessary.

Good News- Use the purple cheat sheet to practice. What you get is the way to practice Active Listening.

  • Remain Silent. Calming down is contagious
  • Make eye contact.  Focus on the speaker’s eyes and the forehead. It is powerful
  • Provide your feedback and only if  you have been asked
  • Strive for listening at levels 2 and 3

Count me on your side if you need to have a conversation. Let’s make an action plan about you. Please visit my services to see what I offer. I am looking forward to hearing about your experiences.


Co-Active Coaching, by Laura Whitworth, Karen Kimsey-House, Henry Kimsey-House and Phillip Sandahl

What Coaching is and What it Isn’t.

Coaching is an omnipresent term in the corporate jargon these days. But most of us are not clear about what coaching as a process really means. I still remember my palms getting sweaty when I was asked to coach some managers at the end of a training workshop a few years ago.  It was unclear to me (like most of us) what coaching meant. Although I did a great job of being a consultant to the managers, but I was not coaching. That confusion got clarified when I began learning and developing skills as a certified coach which I would like to share.

It is a process built on trust and safety where one can achieve his/her personal best. This is done with the support of a coach who helps in building personal action-plan that is sustainable to achieve that goal.

An important thing to note is that the coach does not provide answers to the questions but remains with you as you dive deeper and helps you not drown.

The coach also provides the occasional “kick in the butt” (metaphorically only) when accountability is required.  In short, Coaching all about YOU.

To make things easy (and funny maybe), here’s the distinction between the different processes of engagement such as, Consultancy, Teaching, Training, Mentoring, Counseling, Therapy and, Coaching.

Imagine you and an engagement professional (let’s call them that) are having this conversation

chicken and egg

“What came first? the Chicken or the Egg?”

Consultant- I have helped chicken and eggs increase their efficiency, make impact in their coop-organizations and helped the bottom lines. My clients are all listed in Top 100 coops of the world. The answer is – It could be the chicken and/or the egg. It depends what business you are in. Let’s looks at trends.

Teacher- I have the knowledge and it is the Egg. Here’s a pop-quiz.

Trainer- At the end of this training, you will be able to count (Skill-based) the number of eggs. For counting chicken, there is a different training.

Mentor-  Having worked for 30+ years in 10 countries with chicken, it is the Chicken. Twenty-three years ago, I was posed with a similar question, but it was if it was with a platypus and an egg. And yes, Platypus lay eggs.

 Counselor- So, you have an Egg-problem? Let’s look at these action-steps to resolve it.

Therapist- Your experience in the past with the chicken may have triggered this question. I am listening, please tell me more.

Humor aside, Therapy and Coaching share some attributes. One distinction is that Coaching looks at the present and future while Therapy focuses on the past, which helps in deducing about one’s present and future.

Coach- Focusing on the present and moving forward, what DO YOU think came first? The chicken or the egg? And Why would you think so? You have the Knowledge and the answer. I am listening.

To learn how I can get you to perform your best, refer to the FAQs on my site. Or even better, let’s have a phone conversation about the coaching process and your needs.

References: For definitions of various engagements, visit the International Coaching Community

Stranger Things

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.



decorativeAs 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.