Americans are many times viewed as blunt and closed off by people from around the world. Germans are generally viewed in the same light. Visit France or Spain and you might feel the same way, if you compare them to their more Southern neighbors. In the US, the culture in the Southern United States is generally viewed as more polite and warm, whereas the culture in the Northern US is viewed as more closed off and cold. If you go further South, you will find that the Latino culture is even more open and warmer. Did you know that a country’s location in relation to the Equator actually affects the type of culture that country will have? So what are Hot Climate Cultures vs. Cold Climate Cultures? Let’s take a look.
These concepts are taken from the book Foreign to Familiar by Sarah A. Lanier.
Knowing the differences between Hot Climate Cultures (HCC) and Cold Climate Cultures (CCC) will come in handy in relationships and is especially important when it comes to business relationships. Culture Shock can be felt very quickly when these two types of cultures meet at the negotiation table. For that reason, businessmen must realize what their culture’s typical behavior is vs. that of their foreign counterpart’s culture.
Relationship vs. Task Orientation
Relationship (Hot Climate Culture)
Those from HCC will be more interested in starting off negotiation meetings with relationship-oriented discussions. Asking “how are you” and “how was your trip” will not be enough to satisfy a relationship-oriented culture. You will need to ask about their children, show them pictures of yours (even if it is pictures of your fur-babies). And all interactions are about maintaining the relationship, so directness may be avoided.
Task Orientation (Cold Climate Culture)
Those from CCC prefer directness and to get done what they came to do. Feelings are not valued as much as truth. If you ask someone from a CCC a question, you better be willing to get a non-sugarcoated answer. The answer will be direct and factual without much regard to how it will be taken by the listener. Business meetings will be strictly about business and the focus will be completing the task at hand as quickly and efficiently as possible, which does not leave much time for small talk or developing relationships.
Individualism vs. Group Orientation
CCC are individualistic. They view themselves individually. Taking initiative is viewed as valuable and acceptable. Allowing each person to vocalize their opinion is a must for everyone to feel valued. Each person should be able to think for themselves and have their own idea about things and be able to make their own decisions. People’s behavior is their own and does not reflect on the group.
HCC tend to be more group-oriented. Belonging to a group is essential to one’s identity. Their identity is indelibly linked with that of their family or people group. Speaking up or standing out is looked down upon and is not accepted. Taking initiative may be appropriate depending on what your role in the group is. Leaders are looked up to and waited upon for guidance. The group is seen as the protector and provider, therefore, I never need to stand on my own. My behavior reflects on the group, not just myself.
Inclusion vs. Privacy
Hot Climate Cultures are group-oriented, therefore, inclusion of everyone is extremely important. All activities such as conversation, meals and anything else will automatically include all members of the group. No one should be excluded from any group activities. In addition to everyone being included in any and all activities, everyone is also welcome to any and all supplies/possessions. That includes food, tools, supplies, etc. Being left alone is undesirable and uncomfortable. For that reason, having private conversations or making plans that do not include everyone in the group is extremely rude and is frowned upon.
Cold Climate Cultures are individualistic and emanate different behaviors than HCC. Individuals like having “me” time on their own. Possessions are seen as belonging to the owner and will be labeled as such (lunch in the fridge, stapler, other supplies). Each person is responsible for their own belongings, to maintain, and protect them. Conversations may be held privately, and plans may be made that do not include the whole group. These behaviors are not viewed as rude by those of the CCC. They are seen as normal and acceptable parts of an individualistic society.
Do you identify with Hot Climate Cultures or Cold Climate Cultures? Do you go back and forth depending on the context in which you find yourself? Comment below and let us know!
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