Cultural Diversity: How Cultures within Cultures May Interpret Time Differently

By Dr. Isis C. Clemente, M.A + J.D

As I’ve mentioned before, I immigrated to New York at the age of 9. Having grown into an adult in a New York Culture sayings such as:

Group A
• “ Don’t Leave for Tomorrow What You Can Do Today”
• “ Time is Money”
• “ Get What You Can and Keep What you Have; That’s the way to get Rich”

These were very familiar. There seems to be an element of haste on all three, isn’t there? There may be even a touch of greed, which is all part of the “Money, Money, Moneeeyyyyy..mentality.” Are these sayings truly portraying the American Culture, or is it specifically targeting New Yorkers who seem to be notorious for their fast-pace life and need to earn and spend money?

Yet another culture within the American Culture may not have the same outlook in life.Take a look at the phrases below:

Group B
• A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control
• Fast Ripe, Fast Rotten
• A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult.

Can you not picture someone from the Mid-West or the Southern States, as well as other parts of the United States verbalizing the sayings above?

So, What’s My Point?
The point is that before a person blows his/her top thinking and jumping toconclusions that theculprit whom s/he may be talking to, but is not responding the way s/he expects him/herto respond; must have came from some foreign culture, or the other side of the moon. That conclusion may be totally erroneous. The truth of the matter is, that person may have come from our own backyard!

How do you Reconcile Those Differences?
For one, you may want to establish what the rules are in a work environment. If you expect, for example, your workers to be at their desk at 9:00 a.m.; you may have to post that somewhere where it is visible as well as the negative consequences. Besides the written message, you may want to verbalize that message at various meetings, given that some people are auditory learners; not prone to read and internalize a written message in the same way they would respond to a audible message, while they are also readingyour discontent in your facial expressions.

You, the boss, needs to establish the culture that you want the employees to follow. However, do not forget that life is nothing but a giant wave of give and take, “ If you are going to be strict about the starting time, let’s say 9:00 a.m. on the dot with NO EXCEPTIONS; then accept the fact that your employees have every right to be punching the clock at the end of the day exactly at 5:00p.m.,for example, if that is the time you end.

No favors, such as: “Please stay another 20 min. to finish “ X” ….Nope! You can’t have it both ways!

So, either learn to be flexible with your employees and be able to count on them when you are in a jam, or live with the consequence of (9-5) robotic crew who has not vested in your company’s success; nor your problems! (I offer this as “Food for Thought!” I welcome your reactions.)