Personality, Identity, Behaviour and Culture, Considering D&I
Updated: Nov 13, 2019
In general, cross-cultural research has revealed to us such social structures as individualist vs. collectivist, tight vs. loose, and low-context vs. high-context. Work by such researchers has taught us to expect different behaviours and adaptation patterns from children in different societies. For example, in East Asia, peoples’ behaviours are driven by the situations vs. in the US where behaviour is driven by the emotions. In Japan, which is a collectivist, tight, non-verbal culture, psychoanalysis as therapy is not widespread. Showing emotions and even talking about them is considered immature behaviour. In these cultures, it is expected that a mature person will behave appropriately according to the presented situation. Their personalities could seem not solid, not valid, for the people from a different culture.
Having a language that nobody else understands around the tribe has the consequences of insulation. If we can agree with Chomsky that language determines the mind (Chomsky, 1968), then we Hungarians, in particular, would face problems when seeking to be understood and to understand others in this part of the planet. . Although we came from Asia we don’t belong among the existing Asian ethnic groups, and the more than 1200 years, while we are in Europe, were not enough time to integrate the Hungarian people into any European ethnic groups, such as Slavic, German or Latin people, who surround us.
In this globalised world, what counts as a developed and matured personality?
If we coach a Japanese executive as an example in the US, should we coach them for adaptation to the environment or do we have to attend to their different culture and try to make that stronger and not create more cognitive dissonance within them?
What is more important, the internal balance or the external, if you must choose?
Is there a middle way?
Yet, let us return to the fundamental principles. Even though in cross-culture researches Hungary is out of sight. Hungarian is an isolated nation in terms of the aspects of culture, language and roots. Our tribes came somewhere from behind the Ural in Asia, during the great migration in the 6th, 7th, 8th centuries. Although we came from Asia we don’t belong among the existing Asian ethnic groups, and the more than 1200 years while we are in Europe were not enough time to integrate the Hungarian people into any European ethnic groups, such as Slavic, German or Latin people, who surround us.
During the more recent centuries, in particular from 17th to the beginning of the 20th when Hungary was part of the Habsburg Empire, cultural and language assimilation into the German Ethnic group was largely enforced. We were always fighting for our independence in terms of culture, language, economy and politics during these centuries. In the end, we could keep at least our language and culture.
Having a language that nobody else understands around the tribe has the consequences of insulation. If we can agree with Chomsky that language determines the mind (Chomsky, 1968), then we Hungarians in particular would face problems when seeking to be understood and to understand others in this part of the planet.
For example, Hungarian writers and poets have almost no chance to become well known internationally because our mind is wired so differently and the translation of their work is impossible correctly or a total rewrite is necessary.
When I was studying cognitive psychology, my professor was talking about Chomsky’s theory about language and the mind. I started to worry considering that my children have three languages—Hungarian, Dutch and English—how will they manage, will they have to split their thinking, and so on. My professor reassured me that my children would be able to choose their own language that would determine how their minds functioned. This wouldn’t be necessarily their mother’s language. Literally this has happened. My daughter’s mind functions in English, thinking, dreaming, living and behaving in English. My two sons are Hungarian.
For the best outcome we have to consider cultural boundaries and make them aware to work with us.
It would be irresponsible to deny the existence of cultural boundaries as it plays a dominant role in Diversity & Inclusion.
Diversity & Inclusion are hot topics, and not only at multi-national companies. D&I are not interpretable without cultural boundaries.
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