Where is the line that separates the West from the East?

The pictorial representation of differences between Westerners and Asians, going around on the internet, is worth a look. It will bring a laugh, a sense of identification, and maybe even outrage at the stereotypical depiction of Asians.

With the disclaimer that there are individual differences and these are not universally true, the differences in world views are real between individualistic cultures and collectivistic cultures. The differences in communication patterns, what people value, how they relate to each other, what are socially appropriate mannerisms, etc., are widely studied by businesses functioning abroad. They have learned to optimize the negotiating climate in their favor. However, we in the west, have not always felt the need to learn about the differences in communication patterns, in negotiating with people who may have grown up with different cultural beliefs and world views.

Attorneys and mental health professionals who work with families who may have origins in collectivistic cultures, or interracial relationships, may benefit from using this lens to sharpen their negotiating skills. Although these differences provide good material for stand up comics, in real life situations these are root causes of many misunderstandings, conflicts and negative judgments. At the very least, recognizing our own tendencies, is a good start to evaluating how close or distant you are from the line dividing East from West…..

Respectfully submitted by Gitu Bhatia, PsyD

Leave a Reply