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A R TIC LE # 2: T he In cre dib ly T ru e S to ry o f R entin g a F rie nd in T o kyo

W hen y o u’r e a lo ne in T o kyo a nd y o u n ee d s o m eo ne to ta lk to , d o a s th e lo ca ls d o: R ent a fr ie nd.

( e dit e d fo r th e s e m in ar)

A FA R .c o m 2 016

I t’s m uggy a nd I’m c o nfu se d. I d on’t u nders ta nd w here I a m , th ough it w as o nly a s h ort w alk

f r o m m y A ir b nb s tu dio to th is lit tle c u rry p la ce . I d on’t u nders ta nd th e lu nch m en u, o r e ve n if it is

a lu nch m enu. I’m n ew in T o kyo , a nd s w eaty , a nd je t- la gged. B ut I a m e ntir e ly a t e ase . I o w e th is

t o m y fr ie nd M iy a bi. S he’s o ne o f th ose r e a ssu rin g p re se nce s, w arm a nd e te rn a lly n oddin g a nd

u nfa ilin gly lo ya l, lik e s h e w ill n eve r le ave m y s id e. A t le ast n ot fo r a noth er 9 0 m in ute s, w hic h is

h ow m uch o f h er fr ie ndsh ip I’v e p aid fo r.

M iy a bi is n ’t a s e x w ork e r, o r a n e sco rt o r a n a cto r o r a th era p is t. S in ce 2 011 , s h e h as b een a

p ro fe ssio nal r e nt- a -fr ie nd, w ork in g fo r a c o m pa ny c a lle d C lie nt P artn ers .

M y lu nch m ate p oke s d ain tily a t h er c u rry a nd s p eaks o f th e fr ie nds w hose m on ey c a m e b efo re

m in e. T here w as th e h ead o f a p ro m in ent c o m pa ny, r ic h a nd “ v e ry c le ve r” b ut c o nve rs a tio nally

m aro oned a t “ h ello .” D is cre etly a nd p atie ntly , M iy a bi h elp ed d ra w o th er w ord s o ut. T here w as

t h e s tr in g o f te enage g ir ls s tr u gglin g to n avig ate m ystif y in g s o cia l d yn am ic s; a t th eir p are nts ’

r e quest, M iy a bi w ould s h ow u p a nd ju st b e a fr ie nd. Y ou k n ow , a n orm al, c o m pa nio nable ,

2 7-y e ar-o ld fr ie nd. S he h as b een p aid to c ry a t fu nera ls a nd s w oon a t w eddin gs, le st th ere b e

s h am e o ve r a p alt r y tu rn out. L ast y e ar, a h ig h s ch oole r h ir e d h er a nd 2 0 o th er w om en ju st lo ng

e nough to s n ap o ne g rin nin g, p eace -s ig n -fla sh in g, I- to ta lly -h a ve -fr ie nds In sta gra m p hoto .

W hen I le arn ed th at fr ie ndsh ip is r e nta ble in T o kyo , it m ere ly s e em ed lik e m ore J a panese

w ackin ess, in a s u bse t I’d c o m e to th in k o f a s in te re st- k it s ch . E ve ry d ay in J a pan, it s e em s,

s o m e w eir d n ew a ppetit e is id entif ie d a nd g ra tif ie d. T here a re c a ts to r e n t, a fte r a ll, u se d

u nderw ear to p urc h ase , o w ls to p et a t o w l b ars . C uddle c a fé s e xis t fo r th e u ncu ddle d, g oat

c a fé s fo r th e u n-g oate d. H andso m e m en w ill w ip e a w ay th e te ars o f s tr e sse d-o u t fe m ale o ff ic e

w ork e rs . A ll to s a y I e xp ecte d s o m eth in g m ore o r le ss g oofy w hen I lin ed u p s e ve ra l

E nglis h -s p eakin g r e nt- a -fr ie nds fo r m y w eek in T o kyo . T he a gency M iy a bi w ork s fo r e xis ts

p rim arily fo r lo nely lo ca ls , b ut th e s e rv ic e s tr u ck m e a s w ell s u it e d to a s o lo tr a ve le r, to o, s o I

p aid a tr a nsla to r to h elp w it h th e a rra nge m en ts . M ayb e a m ore ty p ic a l J a panese b usin ess

w ould ’v e b ris tle d a t th is k in d o f in tr u sio n fr o m a fo re ig ner. B ut th e r e n t- a -fr ie nd w orld is n ’t ty p ic a l,

I w ould s o on le arn , a nd in s o m e w ays it w ants to s u bve rt a ll th at is .

C ontr iv e d In sta gra m p hoto s a sid e, M iy a b i’s c a re e r m ostly c o m pris e s th e s m all, u nre m ark a ble

a cts o f o rd in ary fr ie ndsh ip .… Wit h a n a ve ra g e o f 1 5 g ig s a w eek, M iy a bi’s h ours a re ir re gula r

a nd b le ed fr o m d ay in to n ig ht. T he d augh te r o f a d octo r a nd a n urs e , s h e s till s tr u ggle s to

c o nvin ce h er p are nts th at h er r e la tiv e ly n e w fie ld is le git im ate . T he m on ey is fin e b ut n ot

i n cre dib le ; I’m p ayin g h er r o ughly $ 11 5 fo r tw o h ours , s o m e p erc e n ta ge o f w hic h C lie nt P artn ers

k e eps. S o w hy d oes s h e d o it ? M iy a bi p uts d ow n h er c h opstic ks a nd e xp la in s: It h elp s

p eople — re al a nd lo neso m e p eople in n ee d o f, w ell, w hate ve r in eff a ble th in g fr ie ndsh ip m eans to

o ur s p ecie s. “ S o m any p eople a re g ood a t lif e o nlin e o r lif e a t w ork , b ut n ot r e a l lif e ,” s h e s a ys,

p anto m im in g s o m eone s ta rin g a t a p hone . F or s u ch c lie nts a d ollo p o f e m otio nal c o nta ct w it h a

f r ie ndly p ers o n is p ow erfu l, s h e a dds, e ve n w it h a p ric e ta g a tta ch ed.

S o th is is n ’t s e cre tly a bout r o m ance ? I a sk. N ot a t a ll, s h e r e p lie s.

T w o r u le s: n o r o m ance , n o le ndin g m oney. A ls o , b e r e a dy fo r a ll ty p es o f c lie nts : W id ow ers w ho

n eed s o m eone to w atc h T V w it h . S hy g u ys w ho c o uld u se a d atin g c o ach . S hy g als lo ngin g fo r a

s h oppin g c o m panio n. A nd th at o ne d ude w ho ju st w ante d a fr ie nd w ho’d d o h im th e s o lid o f

w ait in g s e ve n h ours o uts id e N ik e to s n ag th ese fr e sh s n eake rs fo r h im w hen th ey w ent o n s a le .

T hen th ere a re th e fa ke b oyfr ie nds. A t 3 5, “ H aya to ” h ad b een fa cin g in te nse p re ssu re to fin d a

w if e a nd s ta rt a fa m ily . B ut it w asn ’t h ap penin g, s o h e s ta rte d a c h ara d e in ste ad. A v is it to h is

p are nts ’ h om e w as c o m in g u p, a nd w it h M iy a bi’s h elp h e c o nco cte d a w hopper: th at s h e w as

o ne o f H aya to ’s e m plo ye es a t h is c o m pany a nd th ey h ad fa lle n in lo ve . T he tw o h unke re d d ow n

i n c a fé s to p ra ctic e . B io gra phic a l d eta ils w ere le arn e d, r o m an tic q uir k s r e h ears e d . ( A s lo ng a s

s h e w as te llin g lie s, h e d ecid ed s o m e g ene ra l fla tte ry w ould n’t h urt: H aya to ’s s o g re at a nd k in d

a t th e c o m pany, e ve ry o ne th ere lo ve s h im .)

T he d ay o f th e v is it c a m e, a nd lo , th e p are n ts b ought it . S oo n th e fa ke r e la tio nsh ip

f a ke -g ra duate d to a fa ke e ngagem ent.

“ It w as e m barra ssin g,” M iy a bi to ld m e a bo ut th e ly in g. “ B ut w atc h in g h is p are n ts fe el g ood w hen

I s a id th ese n ic e th in gs a bout h im — it ’s n ot a ll b ad.” B ut a ll p re te nd-g o od th in gs c o m e to a n e nd,

a nd e ve ntu ally a fin ale w as w rit te n. In tim e, a h eartb ro ke n H aya to in fo rm ed h is p are nts th at

M iy a bi lo ve d h er c a re er m ore th an s h e lo ve d h im — sh e ’d tr a n sfe rre d to a d if f e re n t b ra nch , a nd

t h at w as th at.

I b elie ve M iy a bi w hen s h e s a ys h er jo b is s a tis fy in g b eca use o f th e p ers o n al c o nnectio n. B ut I

h ave to a sk h er w hy th ere ’s s u ch a d em and fo r it o n th e c lie nts ’ s id e.

“ W hy? ” M iy a bi a sks. “ B eca use th is is a ll a lie .” … .

S he c h eerfu lly te lls m e a bout th e g ig s s h e h as h ad s in ce jo in in g C lie nt P artn ers . ( T he

s ix -y e ar-o ld a gency is th e la rg est in J a p an, w it h e ig ht b ra n ch es a cro ss T o kyo a nd a noth er th at

m ore r e ce ntly o pened in O sa ka .) T here w as th e m yste ry w rit e r w ho w ante d h er to r e ad th e

n ove l h e’d to ile d a w ay a t fo r 1 0 y e ars . A noth er m an n eeded s o m eo ne to ta lk w it h a bout h is

a gin g p are nts — not in p ers o n, b ut v ia m onth s o f e m ails . A nd s h e w ork s w eddin gs. F or o ne s h e

w as h ir e d to p la y th e s is te r o f th e b rid e, a r e a l liv in g w om an w ho h ers e lf w as in a fa m ily fe ud

t h at p re clu ded h er a tte ndance . T he m oth er o f th e b rid e w as a ls o a r e n ta l. T he tw o im posto rs g ot

a lo ng s w im min gly .

T he b ulk o f h er c lie nts ? T hey ju st w ant b a sic , u nco m plic a te d c o m pa nio nsh ip . F ro m Y um i’s

v a nta ge p oin t, th e b re adth a nd d epth o f th at n eed s a ys s o m eth in g p ro fo und a bout h er c o untr y .

I n here nt a bsu rd it y a nd a ll, th e r e nt- a -fr ie n d in dustr y h old s fo r m e th e p erv e rs e p ro m is e o f

e lu cid atin g s o m eth in g r e al a bout fr ie ndsh ip .

T here ’s a w ord in J a panese , g am an, th at tr a n sla te s r o u ghly a s s to ic fo rb e ara n ce in th e fa ce o f

t h e u nbeara ble . It’s a d eep-s e ate d J a pan ese v a lu e, th is id ea th at y o u s u ck it u p n o m atte r

w hat’s h appenin g. A lo t h as b een h appen in g. A nxie ty a nd d epre ssio n s p ik e d a fte r th e

F uku sh im a n ucle ar d is a ste r, a cco rd in g t o th e W orld H ealt h O rg a niz a tio n. T he c o untr y it s e lf is

s h rin kin g, it s p opula tio n p lu m metin g a nd a gin g r a p id ly . A nd th ere ’s th e a ppare n tly g ro w in g

p ro ble m o f p eople w ho lit e ra lly w ork th em se lv e s to d eath ; a th ir d o f s u ic id es h ave b een

a ttr ib ute d to o ve rw ork . A ll o f th at, b ut y o u a ct lik e e ve ry th in g’s fin e. I g ath er th is is th e lie M iy a bi

w as r e fe rrin g to .

E nte r th e r e nt- a -fr ie nd. N ot a m ir a cle c u re , n o. B ut m ayb e a p re ssu re v a lv e . “ W it h u s, p eople

c a n ta lk a bout th eir fe elin gs w it h out w orry in g w hat th eir r e a l fr ie nds th in k.” … ..

O n a d riz zly F rid ay m orn in g, m y d estin atio n is th e C lie nt P artn ers h eadquarte rs , a s m all b ut a ir y

s u it e in a n ondescrip t S hib uya d is tr ic t o ff ic e b uild in g. I r o p e m y tr a n sla to r in fo r th is , a nd w e’r e

m et b y a r o und-fa ce d w om an in a lo ng r o belik e g arm ent. M aki A be is th e C EO , a nd fo r th e n ext

h our w e s it a cro ss a d esk fr o m h er a nd ta lk n ot a bout w acky in te re st- k it s ch b ut a bout a n atio n’s

s p ir it u al h ealt h .

“ W e lo ok lik e a r ic h c o untr y fr o m th e o uts id e, b ut m en ta lly w e h ave p ro b le m s,” M aki s a ys. S he

s p eaks s lo w ly , m eth odic a lly . “ J a pan is a ll a bout fa ce . W e d on’t k n ow h ow to ta lk fr o m th e g ut.

W e c a n’t a sk fo r h elp . S o m any p eople a re a lo ne w it h th eir p ro b le m s, a nd s tu ck, a nd th eir h earts

a re n’t to uch in g.”

M aki a nd I b ow ed w hen w e m et, b ut w e a ls o s h ook h ands. S he b rin gs it u p la te r. “ T here a re

m any p eople w ho h ave n’t b een to uch ed fo r y e ars . W e h ave c lie nts w ho s ta rt to c ry w hen w e

s h ake h ands w it h th em .”

I t’s n ot th at p eople la ck fr ie nds, s h e s a ys. F ace book, In sta gra m — s cro ll a ro u nd a nd y o u fin d a

c o untr y b urs tin g w it h m uggin g, p arty in g c o m pa nio nsh ip . It ju st is n ’t r e a l, th at’s a ll. “ T here ’s a r e al

m e a nd a m aske d m e. W e h ave a w ord fo r th e lo nely g ap in b etw een th at: k o doku .”

M aki a ttr ib ute s s o m e o f th is to W orld W ar II. S pir it u al c o nscio usn ess w as w id esp re ad b efo re

t h at, s h e s a ys. “ H arm ony a nd h elp in g e a ch o th er w as th e n atio nal s p ir it . N ow w e’v e g ot

s e lf is h ness in ste ad. N ot e ve n p eople lo okin g o ut fo r th eir o w n fa m il ie s, ju st th em se lv e s.”

I d on’t k n ow . I’v e y e t to e nco unte r a c o untr y w it h out a s im il a r n arra tiv e : T hin gs w ere b ette r, n ow

t h ey’r e w ors e . M ayb e th e C EO o f a fr ie nd sh ip r e n ta l c o m pa ny c a n’t h elp b ut s e e fis su re s in th e

p sych ic la ndsca pe, o r m ayb e th e c ris is is r e a l. R egard le ss, M aki w ants to fix it , o ne s yn th etic

r e la tio nsh ip a t a tim e. B efo re w e p art, s h e s to ps m e. A m I a w are o f C lie nt P artn ers ’ u lt im ate

g oal? I a m n ot. T o r e nder it s e lf u nnece ssa ry , s h e s a ys.

A R TIC LE # 3: C ult u ra l D if f e re nce s? O r, a re w e r e a lly th at d if f e re n t?

G re gorio B illik o pf U niv e rs it y o f C alif o rn ia

I n 1 993, I h ad m y fir s t o pportu nit y to v is it R ussia a s a r e p re se nta tiv e o f th e U niv e rs it y o f

C alif o rn ia . I w as th ere to p ro vid e s o m e te ch nic a l a ssis ta nce in th e a re a o f a gric u lt u ra l la bor

m anagem ent. ” R ussia ns a re a v e ry p olit e p eople ,” I h ad b een tu to re d b efo re m y a rriv a l. O ne o f

m y in te rp re te rs , o nce I w as th ere , e xp la in ed th at a g entle m an w ill p our th e lim on ad ( ty p e o f

j u ic e ) fo r th e la die s a nd s h ow o th er c o urte sie s.

T o w ard th e e nd o f m y th re e w eek tr ip I w as in vit e d b y m y y o ung R ussia n h ost a nd fr ie nd N ic o la i

V asile vic h a nd h is lo ve ly w if e Y uly a o ut t o d in ner. A t th e e nd o f a w onderfu l m ea l Y uly a a ske d if I

w ould lik e a b anana. I p olit e ly d eclin ed a n d th anke d h er, a nd e xp la in ed I w as m ost s a tis fie d w it h

t h e m eal. B ut th e w hole w hile m y m in d w as r a cin g: ” W hat d o I d o? D o I o ff e r h er a b anana e ve n

t h ough th ey a re a s c lo se to h er a s th ey a re to m e? W hat is th e p olit e th in g to d o?”

” W ould y o u lik e a b anana?” I a ske d Y uly a .

” Y es,” s h e s m ile d, b ut m ade n o a tte m pt to ta ke a ny o f th e th re e b ananas in th e fr u it b aske t.

” W hat

n ow ?” I th ought.

” W hic h o ne w ould y o u lik e ?” I fu m ble d.

” T hat o ne,” s h e p oin te d a t o ne o f th e b an anas. S o a ll th e w hile th in kin g a bout R ussia n

p olit e ness I p ic ke d th e b anana Y uly a h ad p oin te d a t a nd p eele d it h alf w ay a nd h anded it to h er.

S m ile s in Y uly a a nd N ic o la i’s fa ce s to ld m e I h ad d one th e r ig ht th in g. A fte r th is e xp erie nce I

s p ent m uch tim e le ttin g th e w orld k n ow th at in R ussia , th e p olit e th in g is to p eel th e b ananas fo r

t h e la die s. S om etim e d urin g m y th ir d tr ip I w as p olit e ly d is a buse d o f m y n otio n.

” O h n o, G rig orii D avid ovic h ,” a R ussia n g ra cio usly c o rre cte d m e. ” In R ussia , w hen a m an p eels

a b anana fo r a la dy it m eans h e h as a r o m an tic in te re st in h er. ” H ow e m ba rra sse d I fe lt . A nd

h ere I h ad b een p ro udly te llin g e ve ry o ne a bout th is tid bit o f c u lt u ra l u nders ta ndin g.

C erta in le sso ns h ave to b e le arn ed th e h ard w ay. S om e w ell m ea nin g a rtic le s a nd p re se nta tio ns

o n c u lt u ra l d if f e re nce s h ave a p ote ntia l to d o m ore h arm th an g ood a nd m ay n ot b e a s a m usin g.

T hey p re se nt, lik e m y b ananas, to o m any g enera liz a tio ns o r q uit e a d is to rte d v ie w .

S om e o fte n-h eard g enera liz a tio ns a bout th e H is p anic c u lt u re in clu de: H is p anic s n eed le ss

p ers o nal s p ace , m ake le ss e ye c o nta ct, to uch e ach o th er m ore in n orm al c o nve rs a tio n, a nd a re

l e ss lik e ly to p artic ip ate in a m eetin g. G ene ra liz a tio ns a re o fte n d angero u s, a nd e sp ecia lly w hen

a cco m panie d b y r e co m mendatio ns s u ch a s: m ove c lo se r w hen ta lk in g to H is p anic s, m ake m ore

p hysic a l c o nta ct, d on’t e xp ect p artic ip atio n, a nd s o o n.

H ere is a n a tte m pt to s o rt o ut a c o uple o f th oughts o n c u lt u ra l d if f e re n ce s. M y p ers p ectiv e is th at

o f a fo re ig n b orn -a nd-ra is e d H is p anic w ho h as n ow liv e d o ve r tw o d eca des in th e U nit e d S ta te s

a nd h as h ad m uch o pportu nit y fo r in te rn a tio nal tr a ve l a nd e xch ange.

C om monalit y o f h um ankin d D if f e re nce s b etw een p eople w it h in a ny g iv e n n atio n o r c u lt u re a re

m uch g re ate r th an d if f e re nce s b etw een g ro u ps. E du ca tio n, s o cia l s ta ndin g, r e lig io n, p ers o nalit y ,

b elie f s tr u ctu re , p ast e xp erie nce , a ff e ctio n s h ow n in th e h om e, a nd a m yria d o f o th er fa cto rs w ill

a ff e ct h um an b ehavio r a nd c u lt u re .

S ure th ere a re d if f e re nce s in a ppro ach a s to w hat is c o nsid ere d p olit e a nd a ppro pria te b ehavio r

b oth o n a nd o ff th e jo b. In s o m e c u lt u re s ” y e s” m ea ns, ” I h ear y o u” m ore th an ” I a gre e.” L ength

o f p le asa ntr ie s a nd g re etin gs b efo re g ettin g d ow n to b usin ess; le ve l o f to le ra n ce fo r b ein g

a ro und s o m eone s p eakin g a fo re ig n ( n ot- u n ders to od) la nguage; p olit e ness m ea su re d in te rm s

o f g alla ntr y o r e tiq uette ( e .g ., s ta ndin g u p fo r a w om an w ho a ppro a ch es a ta ble , y ie ld in g a s e at

o n th e b us to a n o ld er p ers o n, e tc .) ; a nd m an ner o f e xp ecte d d re ss a re a ll e xa m ple s o f p ossib le

c u lt u ra l d if f e re nce s a nd tr a dit io ns.

I n M éxic o it is c u sto m ary fo r th e a rriv in g p ers o n to g re e t th e o th ers . F or in sta nce , s o m eone w ho

w alk s in to a g ro up o f p ers o ns e atin g w ould s a y p ro ve ch o ( e n jo y y o ur m ea l) . In C hile , w om en

o fte n g re et b oth o th er w om en a nd m en w it h a k is s o n th e c h eek. In R ussia w om en o fte n w alk

a rm in a rm w it h th eir fe m ale fr ie nds. P ayin g a tte ntio n to c u sto m s a nd c u lt u ra l d if f e re nce s c a n

g iv e s o m eone o uts id e th at c u lt u re a b ette r c h ance o f a ssim il a tio n o r a cce pta nce . Ig norin g th ese

c a n g et a n u nsu sp ectin g p ers o n in to tr o u ble .

T here a re c u lt u ra l a nd id eolo gic a l d if f e re nce s a nd it is g ood to h ave a n u nders ta ndin g a bout a

c u lt u re ‘s c u sto m s a nd w ays. A aro n P un, a C anadia n O DCnet c o rre sp ondent, w ro te : ” In s tu dyin g

c ro ss c u lt u ra l d if f e re nce s, w e a re n ot lo okin g a t in div id uals b ut a c o m pa ris o n o f o ne e th nic g ro up

a gain st o th ers . H ence , w e a re c o m parin g tw o b ell c u rv e s a nd g enera liz a tio n c a nnot b e

a vo id ed.” A noth er c o rre sp ondent e xp la in ed th e h um an n eed to c a te goriz e . T ru e a nd tr u e, b ut

t h e d anger c o m es w hen w e a ct o n s o m e o f th ese g enera liz a tio ns, e sp ecia lly w hen th ey a re

b ase d o n fa ult y o bse rv a tio n. A ctin g o n g en era liz a tio ns a bout s u ch m atte rs a s e ye c o nta ct,

p ers o nal s p ace , to uch , a nd in te re st in p artic ip atio n c a n h ave s e rio us n egativ e c o nse quence s.

C ro ss-c u lt u ra l a nd s ta tu s b arrie rs S om etim es, o bse rv a tio ns a bout c u lt u ra l d if f e re nce s a re

b ase d o n s cie ntif ic o bse rv a tio n ( s e e, fo r in sta nce , A rg yle , M ic h ael, B od ily C om munic a tio n, 2 nd

e d., M eth uen & C o. L td ., 1 988). A rg yle c it e s s e ve ra l s tu die s o n n on-v e rb a l c o m munic a tio ns a nd

c u lt u re ( s e e p p. 5 7-6 1). A cco rd in g to th e s tu die s c it e d, L atin A m eric a ns m ake m ore e ye c o nta ct,

f a ce e ach o th er m ore , a nd to uch m ore ( p . 5 8) w hen th ey s p eak. S tr o n g e ye c o nta ct u se d b y

H is p anic s g oes a lo ng w it h m y o bse rv a tio ns. If H is p anic s fa ce e ach o th er m ore , it is p ro bably

b eca use o f th e n eed fo r e ye c o nta ct. I d o n ot b elie ve th at H is p anic s to uch m ore , w it h th e

e xce ptio n o f s o m e v e ry s p ecif ic s o cia l c o nte xts , o ne o f th em b ein g b etw een d atin g o r m arrie d

c o uple s. O ne o f th e s tu die s c it e d m ore c o n ta ct a m on g L atin A m eric a n c o uple s ( p . 6 0). A noth er

s tu dy s h ow ed th at L atin A m eric a ns s ta nd c lo se r th an N orth A m eric a ns ( s o m eth in g th at g oes

c o ntr a ry to m y o bse rv a tio ns) b ut th at th ere a re r e g io nal v a ria tio ns a m on g c o untr ie s ( p .6 0).

A rg yle a sse rts th at th ere a re fe w g enuin e c ro ss-c u lt u ra l s tu die s in th e a re a o f s p atia l b ehavio r.

I n te re stin gly , y e t a noth er s tu dy ( p . 6 0) s h ow ed th at ” m id dle -c la ss A m eric a ns a ctu ally to uch ed

q uit e a lo t” a nd th at th e U SA is m ore o f a c o nta ct c u lt u re th an p eople th in k.

M uch o f th e d if f e re nce s in c u lt u re h ave to d o w it h fo od p re p ara tio n, m usic , a nd w hat e ach

c u lt u re c o nsid ers p olit e ness. F ood p re para tio n, fo r in sta nce , c a n b e q uit e d if f e re n t in v a rio us

c u lt u re s. O ne fa rm er c o uld n ot u nders ta nd w hy h is w ork e rs d id n ot a tte nd a s p ecia lly p re pare d

e nd-o f- s e aso n m eal. T he m eal w as b ein g p re p are d b y th e fa rm o w ners . In ste ad, w hen th e fa rm

o pera to rs p ro vid e th e b eef, p ork o r o th er m ea t b ut d ele gate th e a ctu al p re p ara tio n to th e

w ork e rs w ho c a n s p ic e u p th eir o w n w ay, s u ch a c e le bra tio n m ea l c a n b e a g re a t s u cce ss.

S im ila rly , a d ia ry fa rm er fo und o ut th at h is M exic a n e m plo ye es w ere n ot to o e xcit e d a bout

g ettin g g ro und b eef a s a p erk . In ste ad, th e y w ould h ave p re fe rre d th e c o w ‘s h ead, to ngue,

b ra in s, a s w ell a s o th er c u ts o f m eat th at w ere n ot g ro u nd u p. W it h w orld g lo baliz a tio n, e ve n

t a ste s in fo od a nd m usic a re r a pid ly c h a ngin g, h ow eve r.

W hen I c a m e to th e U S, fo r a lo ng tim e I w as a ls o g uilt y o f b ro a d g enera liz a tio ns a bout th ose

b orn in th e U S. W hile I h ave n ot c o nque re d th is d is a gre e able h um an in clin atio n, I fe el I a m

b egin nin g to s e e th e w ay. O fte n, o bse rv a tio ns o n c u lt u ra l d if f e re n ce s a re b ase d o n o ur o w n

w eakn ess a nd r e fle ct o ur in abilit y to c o n nect w it h th at c u lt u re . A s a y o ung m an I fo und m yse lf in

a n a lm ost e ntir e ly A nglo -S axo n c o m munit y in N ew C anaan, C onnectic u t. I r e m em ber th at o n

s e ve ra l o cca sio ns I fe lt m y p ers o nal s p ace w as b ein g in va ded a nd w ondere d h ow A nglo -S axo n

m en c o uld s ta nd b ein g s o c lo se to e ach o th er. A fte r a ll th ese y e ars , I s till fe el u nco m fo rta ble

s it tin g a s c lo se to o th er m en a s o fte n d ic ta te d b y c h air a rra ngem en ts in th e U S. I a m n ot th e

e xce ptio n th at p ro ve s th e r u le . O th er fo re ig n-b o rn im mig ra n ts fr o m M éxic o a nd Ir a n h ave

m entio ned fe elin g th e s a m e w ay.

J ill H eik e n, a n H Rnet c o rre sp ondent, e xp la in ed h er le arn in g p ro ce ss th is w ay: ” I’v e ta ught E S L

t o m any m any d if f e re nt n atio nalit ie s a nd liv e d in r o o m in g s it u atio ns w it h p eople fr o m a ll n atio ns

a nd liv e d in J a pan a nd C am bodia … it to o k m e a lo ng tim e n ot to g enera liz e a nd n ow w hen I

h ear o th ers d oin g s o … I k n ow th ey a re ju st b egin nin g to ‘w ade in th e r iv e r, ‘ s o to s p eak, o f

i n te rc u lt u ra l r e la tio ns.”

I n ow liv e in C alif o rn ia a nd h ave b een m arrie d fo r o ve r 2 0 y e ars to a C alif o rn ia n ( o f N orth ern

E uro pean d esce nt) . It is s o rt o f fu nny b eca use m y w if e n ow r e a liz e s th at I n eed to h ave e ye

c o nta ct w hile w e ta lk . If s h e is r e adin g, s h e h as le arn e d th at I s to p ta lk in g if I d on’t h ave e ye

c o nta ct w it h h er. I h ave h ad s e ve ra l p eop le te ll m e, w hen I s to p ta lk in g b eca use I n o lo nger h ave

e ye c o nta ct, ” K eep ta lk in g, I’m lis te nin g.” M y k id s s till g iv e m e a b ad tim e a bout th e y e ar m y

m oth er c a m e to v is it a nd w e d ro ve to Y ose m it e N atio nal P ark . T hey w ere a ll p anic ke d b eca use I

k e pt lo okin g a t m y m oth er a s I d ro ve . T he y fe lt I w as n ot lo okin g a t th e r o a d e nough a nd th ought

w e w ould d riv e o ff th e m ounta in . I h ave a v e ry h ig h n eed fo r e ye c o nta ct.

B esid es b ein g a n ativ e C hile an, I h ave m et, ta ught, b een ta ught, r o o m ed w it h , s tu die d w it h ,

w ork e d fo r, w ork e d w it h , b een s u perv is e d b y, s u perv is e d, a nd b een fr ie nds w it h H is p anic s fr o m

a lm ost e ve ry S panis h -s p eakin g c o untr y in th e w orld . I h ave in te rv ie w ed a nd d one r e se arc h

a m ong h undre ds o f H is p anic fa rm w ork e rs a nd h ave n otic e d n o d if f ic u lt ie s w it h p oor e ye c o nta ct

o r in va sio n o f p ers o nal s p ace . N or h ave I e ve r h ad d if f ic u lt ie s in th ese a re a s w it h p eople fr o m

o th er n atio ns o r c u lt u re s.

S tr o ng e ye c o nta ct is p artia lly a fa cto r o f s h yn ess; p artly a m ea su re o f h ow s a fe a p ers o n fe els

a ro und a noth er. If th ose w ho h ave w rit te n a bout p oor e ye c o nta ct o n th e p art o f H is p anic s w ould

w alk d ow n a m ostly m in orit y n eig hborh oo d a t d usk, th ey m ay a ls o fin d th em se lv e s lo okin g a t th e

g ro und a nd m akin g le ss e ye c o nta ct.

C ro ss-c u lt u ra l o bse rv a tio ns c a n e asily b e ta in te d a nd c o nta m in ate d b y o th er fa cto rs . P erc e iv e d

s ta tu s d if f e re nce s c a n c re ate b arrie rs b e tw een c u lt u re s a nd e ve n w it h in o rg a niz a tio ns.

F or in sta nce , fa rm m anagers , in str u cto rs , a nd fo re ig n v o lu nte ers ( th ro u gh u niv e rs it ie s, p eace

c o rp s, fa rm er-to -fa rm er p ro gra m s, e tc .) m ay a ppear to h ave a s ta tu s d if f e re n tia l w it h th ose fa rm

w ork e rs , s tu dents , a nd te ch nic a l a ssis ta nce r e cip ie nts th ey a re w ork in g w it h . A p ers o n w it h th is

s ta tu s d if f e re ntia l w ill h ave to s h ow , b y w ord a nd a ctio n, th at s h e v a lu es th e p ote ntia l

c o ntr ib utio ns o f th ose s h e w ork s w it h . U ntil th is h appens s h e w ill o nly o bta in c o m plia nce b ut

n eve r c o m mit m ent.

A t tim es, th en, it m ay a ppear th at s o m e w ork e rs o r s tu dents , e sp ecia lly w hen th ere a re s o cia l o r

e th nic d if f e re nce s, d o n ot p artic ip ate a s e asily . T his is n ot b eca use th ey d o n ot h ave id eas to

c o ntr ib ute , b ut r a th er, b eca use th ey m ay n eed a lit tle c o nvin cin g th at th eir id eas w ould b e

v a lu ed. O nce th is flo odgate o f id eas is o pe ned, it w ill b e d if f ic u lt to s to p it . In s o m e s u b-c u lt u re s,

o nce a p ers o n h as g iv e n a n o pin io n, o th ers a re u nlik e ly to c o ntr a d ic t it . T hat is w hy s o m e

o rg aniz a tio ns a sk th eir le ast s e nio r e m plo ye es to g iv e a n o pin io n fir s t, a s fe w w ill w ant to

c o ntr a dic t th e m ore s e aso n e m plo ye es. S ettin g u p th e d is cu ssio n fr o m th e b egin nin g a s o ne

w here o ne d esir e s to h ear a ll s o rt o f d if f e re n t o pin io ns, c a n b e v e ry fr u it fu l b oth in th e w ork p la ce

a nd in th e c la ssro om .

A m eric a ns h ave b een h is to ric a lly w elc o m e in m ost o f H is p anic A m eric a . W it h a fe w e xce ptio ns

t h ey a re lo oke d u p to , r e su lt in g in d efe re ntia l tr e a tm en t. T his d efe re n tia l a nd p olit e tr e atm ent

s h ould n ot b e c o nfu se d fo r w eakn ess, la ck o f in te re st, a nd th e lik e . S tu die s c o nducte d s o m e

y e ars a go s h ow ed A fr ic a n A m eric a n c h ild re n p re fe rre d W hit e d olls . T his h as b een c h angin g a s

A fr ic a n A m eric a ns a re le ss lik e ly to d is c o unt th eir o w n c o ntr ib utio ns ( fo r a n e xce lle nt d is cu ssio n

o n c o ntr ib utio ns s e e R oger B ro w n’s S ocia l P sych o lo gy: T he S eco nd E dit io n, F re e P re ss, 1 986).

I b elie ve H is p anic s a re a ls o v a lu in g th eir c o ntr ib utio ns m ore th an in th e p ast, a nd le ss

s u bse rv ie nt b ehavio rs w ill b e o bse rv e d. O nly th ro u gh e qualit y o f r e sp ect b etw een r a ce s a nd

n atio ns c a n w e r e ach p osit iv e in te rn atio n al r e la tio ns in th is g lo bal e co nom y ( a s w ell a s p eace a t

h om e). C ult u ra l a nd e th nic s te re oty p es d o lit tle to fo ste r th is ty p e o f e qualit y .

B re akin g th ro ugh s ta tu s b arrie rs c a n ta ke tim e a nd e ff o rt. T he a m ou nt o f e xe rtio n w ill d epend o n

m any fa cto rs , in clu din g th e s kill o f th e m anager ( te ach er, v o lu nte er) o n th e o ne h and, a nd h ow

a lie nate d a nd d is e nfr a nch is e d fr o m th e m ain s tr e a m th e p ers o n h e is tr y in g to r e a ch fe els .

F or e xa m ple , in E ast A fr ic a , a n on-B la ck m an ager s p eaks to th e B la ck A fr ic a n a cco unta nt a nd

t h e a cco unta nt m ake s lit tle e ye c o nta ct a nd r e sp onds w it h s u bm is siv e ” Y es, S ir s ” r e gard le ss o f

w hat h e h ears . W hen th e m anager e xit s , th is s a m e a cco unta nt m ake s p le nty o f e ye c o nta ct a nd

i s fu ll o f id eas a nd c re ativ it y w hen d ealin g w it h th ose o f h is s a m e a nd d if f e re n t r a ce .

I n a noth er e xa m ple , a n a dult c la ss o f H is p a nic fa rm w ork e rs s a ys n oth in g to th eir A nglo -S axo n

i n str u cto r o ve r a th re e d ay p erio d–e ve n th ough th ey d o n ot u nders ta nd w hat is b ein g ta ught.

T his s a m e g ro up o f fa rm w ork e rs , w hen g iv e n a c h ance to b e a ctiv e p artic ip ants in th e le arn in g

p ro ce ss, b eco m e, in th e w ord s o f a s e co nd A nglo -S axo n in str u cto r a t th e s a m e ju nio r c o lle ge,

” th e b est c la ss o f s tu dents I h ave e ve r ta ught.”

I n y e t a noth er c a se , a n A nglo -S axo n a d ult e duca to r fin ds th at H is p anic s a re a pt to lis te n p olit e ly

b ut n ot a sk q uestio ns. H e a dvis e s o th ers n ot to e xp ect m uch p artic ip atio n fr o m H is p anic s. A

f e m ale H is p anic e ls e w here w onders if th ose H is p anic fa rm w ork e rs s h e te ach es d on’t

p artic ip ate b eca use s h e is a w om an. T he fir s t p erc e iv e s th at th e la ck o f p artic ip atio n is

s o m ew hat in here nt in th e H is p anic p opu la tio n; th e la tte r a ssu m es h er g ender is th e c a use .

M eanw hile , o th er H is p anic in str u cto rs c re ate s o m uch e nth usia sm a nd a ctiv e p artic ip atio n fr o m

t h e H is p anic a udie nce s th ey w ork w it h , t h at th ose w ho w alk b y w onder w hat is g oin g–a nd w hy

p artic ip ants s e em to b e h avin g s o m uch fu n. It is n ot a c u lt u ra l d if f e re n ce if s o m eone c a n to ta lly

i n vo lv e a g ro up in to a d is cu ssio n, w it h in m in ute s, e ve n w hen th at g ro u p h as h ad lit tle

e xp erie nce w it h a m ore p artic ip ato ry m eth od in th e p ast.

C onclu sio ns S te re oty p in g c a n h ave in te n se n egativ e e ff e cts , e sp ecia lly w hen e duca to rs o r

m anagers m ake fe w er a tte m pts to in vo lv e th ose o f o th er c u lt u re s b eca use th ey h ave b een

t a ught n ot to e xp ect p artic ip atio n! O r d o n ot r e a liz e th ere m ay b e s o m eth in g w ro n g w hen a

s tu dent o r e m plo ye e o f a d if f e re nt e th nic it y m ake s lit tle e ye c o nta ct w it h th em . F aye L ee, a

c o nce rn ed J a panese -A m eric a n w ro te : ” H ow a nyo ne c a n tr y to m ake g enera liz a tio ns a bout a n

e ntir e c o ntin ent o f p eople , p lu s a ll th e A sia n A m eric a ns a nd th e in fin it e p erm uta tio ns o f p eople ‘s

d if f e rin g e xp erie nce s, is b eyo nd m e.”

A s w e in te ra ct w it h o th ers o f d if f e re nt c u lt u re s, th ere is n o g ood s u bstit u te fo r r e ce ptiv e ness to

i n te rp ers o nal fe edback, g ood o bse rv a tio n s kills , e ff e ctiv e q uestio ns, a nd s o m e h ors e s e nse .

T here is m uch to b e g ain ed b y o bse rv in g h ow p eople o f th e s a m e c u lt u re in te ra ct w it h e ach

o th er. D on’t b e a fr a id to a sk q uestio ns a s m ost p eople r e sp ond v e ry p osit iv e ly to in quir ie s a bout

t h eir c u lt u re . A sk a v a rie ty o f p eople s o y o u c a n g et a b ala nce d v ie w .

M akin g a g enuin e e ff o rt to fin d th e p osit iv e h is to ric a l, lit e ra ry , a nd c u lt u ra l c o ntr ib utio ns o f a

s o cie ty ; le arn in g a fe w p olit e e xp re ssio ns in a noth er p ers o n ‘s la nguage; a nd s h ow in g

a ppre cia tio n fo r th e fo od a nd m usic o f a n oth er c u lt u re c a n h ave e sp ecia lly p osit iv e e ff e cts .

M y c o nte ntio n, th en, is n ot th at th ere a re n o c u lt u ra l d if f e re n ce s. T hese d if f e re n ce s b etw een

c u lt u re s a nd p eople s a re r e al a nd c a n a dd r ic h ness ( a n d h um or) to th e fa bric o f lif e . M y

a sse rtio n is th at p eople e ve ry w here h ave m uch in c o m mon, s u ch a s a n eed fo r a ff ilia tio n a nd

l o ve , p artic ip atio n, a nd c o ntr ib utio n. W he n th e e xte rio r is p eele d o ff , th ere a re n ot s o m any

d if f e re nce s a fte r a ll.

A R TIC LE # 4: W hen Y our C hin ese E m plo ye es L ose F ace , Y ou L ose T hem

F O RBES.C O M

T he s ce ne: In th e S hanghai o ff ic e o f a U .S . m ult in atio nal c o rp o ra tio n, H ead o f S ale s, e xp at Ia n

F oste r m eets w it h h is lo ca l d ir e ct r e ports to d is cu ss la st m on th ’s ta rg e t s h ortfa ll. R egio nal S ale s

M anager Y uan L i is q uestio ned r e peate dly a bout h is te am ’s c o ntin uin g u nderp e rfo rm ance .

F oste r o penly s ta te s h is d is a ppoin tm ent th at is su es p re vio usly h ig hlig hte d a bout L i’s s a le s te am

d o n ot a ppear to h ave b een a ddre sse d. H e r e p eats h is e xp ecta tio n th at th e R SM is a cco unta ble

f o r th e r e su lt s o f h is te am a nd th at L i s h ould h ave e sca la te d th e is su es. L i n ods s ile ntly a nd

p eers o ut th e w in dow . H e le ave s th e m eetin g, a vo id s a fu rth er d is cu ssio n w it h F oste r, a nd n eve r

r e tu rn s.

T o Y uan L i, o pen c rit ic is m in th e p re se nce o f h is p eers is a v e ry d am nin g in dic tm ent. H is p rid e is

i n ta tte rs . H e fe els h is r e puta tio n is c o m pro m is e d. H e h as lo st s e lf – re sp ect – h e h as lo st fa ce .

M ia nzi, s a vin g fa ce , is a c rit ic a l e le m ent o f th e C hin ese s o cia l s tr u ctu re . W e c a n a ll r e la te to th e

e m barra ssm ent w e fe el w hen o ur fla w s o r fa ilu re s a re p ublic ly e xp ose d, b ut th e C hin ese ( a lo ng

w it h m any o th er e aste rn n atio ns) h ave a s u per-s e nsit iv e r a d ar fo r th is .

L osin g fa ce

A s d escrib ed in th e a bove s ce ne, b ein g c rit ic iz e d o r c h alle nged p ublic ly c a use s a lo ss o f fa ce .

S o to o d oes o penly lo sin g y o ur te m per, d ir e ct c o nfr o n ta tio n o r fa ilin g to s h ow r e sp ect.

S avin g fa ce

T he s e ve re c o nse quence s o f lo sin g fa ce m ake m an y C hin ese s tr iv e to s a ve fa ce , fo r

t h em se lv e s a nd o th ers . T his c a n b e o bse rv e d b y th e C hin ese te ndency to s u ppre ss n egativ e

o pin io ns a nd e m otio ns, s h ow r e sp ect a nd a vo id c a usin g s h am e o r d is h onor.

G iv in g fa ce

E ve n m ore p ro activ e is fin din g w ays to c re a te o r g iv e fa ce . A ckn ow le dgin g s o cia l s ta tu s,

s h ow in g a ppre cia tio n th ro ugh p ublic p ra is e o r g iv in g e xp ensiv e g if ts a nd r e co gniz in g p re stig e a ll

e le va te th e r e cip ie nt a nd g iv e fa ce .

M ia nzi a nd p erfo rm ance m anagem ent

N egativ e p erfo rm ance fe edback w ill a lm ost c e rta in ly c a use a lo ss o f fa ce , s o C hin ese

s u perv is o rs a nd m anagers a vo id th is b y s im ply n ot g iv in g a ny. M an y W este rn e rs m anagin g

C hin ese e m plo ye es, p artic u la rly in C hin a, a re c h alle nged tr y in g to n avig ate th ro u gh th e

c o m plic a te d m aze c re ate d b y m ia nzi. T hey c a n e asily a ppear a s h ars h a nd h urtfu l, in cit in g fe ar

a nd s ile nce fr o m th eir e m plo ye es.

M ia nzi a nd le aders h ip

B ala ncin g th e n eed to d riv e h ig h p erfo rm ance w hile m ain ta in in g e m plo ye e m ora le is a d elic a te

e xe rc is e fo r le aders in C hin a. If th e tr u th is lik e ly to h urt, th in k c a re fu lly a bout th e tim in g a nd

w ord in g o f th e m essa ge. A nd th ough th e n eed fo r r e co gnit io n is h ig h, to o m uch p ra is e fo r a ny

o ne in div id ual c a n a ls o d is ru pt g ro up h arm ony. M ain ta in in g b ala nce is th e k e y.

S ocia l p ain = p hysic a l p ain

I f y o u’r e th in kin g it a ll s o unds lik e th e C hin ese a re ju st a lit tle p re cio us a nd s h ould s im ply “ g et

o ve r it ,” c o nsid er r e ce nt e vid ence fr o m th e fie ld o f n euro scie nce . S cie ntis ts h ave d ete rm in ed

t h at th e b ra in ’s p ain r e ce pto rs fir e e quall y w hen s tim ula te d e it h er b y s o cia l p ain ( s u ch a s s o cia l

r e je ctio n o r h um ilia tio n) a nd p hysic a l p ain ( y o u s tu b y o ur to e o r ja m y o ur fin ger in th e d oorw ay).

O nly th e e ff e cts o f s o cia l p ain o fte n r e m ain m uch lo nger.

G ettin g th e b est p ro ductiv it y a nd p erfo rm ance o ut o f e m plo ye es is a lw ays tr ic ky. F or th ose

l e adin g C hin ese , b ein g c u lt u ra lly s e nsit iv e to d eeply r o o te d c o nstr u cts s u ch a s m ia nzi w ill g o a

l o ng w ay to w ard a ch ie vin g p osit iv e r e su lt s .

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