Cultural Dimension: time versus relationship

Cultural Dimension: time versus relationship


Time or relationship? How do you or your company approach work? Are the people or the task more important? Which takes precedence? On one end of this spectrum is a strong focus on time and task. Nurturing your relationships with co-workers or clients is much less important than simply getting the work done and getting it done quickly. “Get to the point” “Cut to the chase” “What’s your bottom line?” If you are time and task oriented, you have little patience for what you perceive as idle “water-cooler” chit-chat. Native New Yorkers are famous for their direct communication style their preference for getting right to business “yeah, whaddaya want?” However At the other end of the spectrum is a powerful preference for building relationships. In relationship-oriented cultures such as Mexico Maintaining a harmonious relationship with co-workers
and customers takes a definite priority Over accomplishing mere tasks. When I call a colleague in Mexico I’ve learned to plan to spend at least several
minutes up front asking about her family, talking about mine discussing the weather, current events upcoming holidays. Only then do we turn to the work project. if I immediately started talking business, she would perceive me as rude and
cold and this would impair our working relationship. On the other hand, when I get a phone call from a New Yorker
asking for pricing information I don’t waste time on pleasantries I get right to the point. You can see that two employees who place differently on this spectrum may well clash. A punctual, numbers-focused accountant with an eye on the clock, and her chatty frequently tardy assistant who talks about
his children, his aging Mum, and the Yankees football team, they both are daily annoyed by the other. Time versus relationship. Which are you?

4 thoughts on “Cultural Dimension: time versus relationship

  1. Its good that regional differences in the US itself are atleast mentioned as otherwise it is far too generalised…In Germany we find that the US business collegues need more small talk than we are used to here – but it isnt the same all over Germany either. The north is 'cooler' and Bayern & Baden Wurtemburg far more socially sophisticated. Hofstede country profiles are useful only so far.

  2. Yes, the USA does have strong regional differences. There are stereotypes of the laidback, slow Southern (USA) American and the more time-pressed New Englanders.

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