When you are sharing a space with people you don’t know, like in an elevator or while waiting in line at a supermarket, do you smile at them? Make some small talk? Or do you ignore them to create a comfortable distance?
Asking someone for a favor is tricky even in your own culture, but when the person you are asking has a different idea of how this should be done, it can be even more difficult. In some cultures, the best way is to ask directly. In other cultures, it is considered more respectful to hint at your problem and wait for friends to offer their help.
The first and most basic influence on the way a child relates to the world is whether they sleep alongside their parents, or are made to sleep independently. And what is considered the “right way” to raise children might be to nurture and support them, or it could be to teach them the rules of society as early as possible.
When having a conversation with someone, are you upfront with what you say, or are you more focused on not offending others? And when discussing a topic, how comfortable are you with expressing disagreement?
The definition of “romantic” is far from universal. What kinds of public displays of affection are OK? Is it better to discuss everything openly, or to be able to understand your partner’s needs without words? How important is it to have friends in common? The answers to these questions may seem natural, but in fact they are deeply cultural.
In shops and businesses in some cultures, customers are treated like royalty. In others, the relationship between staff and customers is more equal. Which feels more like good service to you?
Being involved in a school club can be quite intense in terms of demands on time and effort. Or, it can be seen as a break from studies, and limited to a few hours per week. Both approaches have a deep influence on the way young people learn how to cooperate with others.
In some cultures, people enjoy socializing in public places like cafes and restaurants. In other cultures, welcoming guests to your home is considered an important step in friendship, so houses are kept ready to welcome visitors at any time.
If you have ever studied abroad, you may have noticed that classroom behavior varies from culture to culture. In your country, are classes usually interactive? Do students actively ask and answer questions, or are they usually silent? Who is doing most of the talking int he classroom?
The way we present ourselves is deeply cultural. In some cultures, people focus on their uniqueness but in other cultures people emphasize what they have in common with others. There are also many differences in whether or not people downplay their own strengths or compliment others.
Is it better to stay at the office late at night and catch up on sleep where and when you can? Or to leave work early in order to get a good night’s sleep?