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The behavior we accept as normal is actually formed from learned and inherited beliefs based on our religious upbringing, ethnic, generational, class, and gender programming, as well as the educational socialization and the professional ethics we have been taught and accepted.
All of these aspects, that we take for granted in our society, form the framework within which we think, look at life, and perform in the workplace. Third Culture Kids are unique in their ability to transcend cultural boundaries, because they have lived in so many different cultures. Is a contract in Japan, South America, or Italy the same thing?Signing a contract means one thing to the North American mindset, but like the truth, depending on the culture, it can have many interpretations. To a Swiss, a Scandinavian, a Brit, and a North American a contract is a formal document, a sacred covenant, that once signed must be adhered to.
The above triangular Model of cross cultural communication patterns, is taken from the book When Cultures Collide: Leading Across Cultures by Richard Lewis, who, by the way, speaks 12 languages. Most of the countries in the world fall somewhere along the continuum between the points on this triangle, which Lewis calls Linear-Active, Multi-Active and Reactive.


For example, the most Linear-Active countries are Germany, Switzerland and Luxembourg, with the US and UK on either side. The US leans slightly toward the multi-active pattern because of the presence of a large Spanish speaking population in America. Canada is located right in the middle between Linear-Active and Reactive because in Canada, you’ll find a large Linear-Active population and a large population with Reactive Communication Patterns.
If you are thinking of living or working overseas, or even traveling abroad, you may like to survey the list of characteristics below, to see which of these 3 cross cultural communication patterns you feel most comfortable with. If you find your preferred cultural profile doesn’t match the profile of the country you are living in, this may be a good time to become acquainted with the cultural profile you are most comfortable living within.
The coloured triangle at the top of the page shows which cultures are Linear-Active, Multi-Active and Reactive. This can promote harmony in relationships, by allowing empathy and understanding to develop.


Maybe we, Linear-Active types, can learn from the Multi-Active types how to live a less frantic, and more relaxed lifestyle, which would contribute so much more to our enjoyment of life.
But they are actually very subjective norms, that are based on the culture we have spent the most time growing up within. Italians call the American’s insistence on abiding by a signed contract, naive and idealistic.
This happens if your family has moved from another culture to North America, bringing with it a different cultural style. It will save you no end of trouble, in getting a handle on the mindset of the culture(s) you visit, before you arrive.



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