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Cultural Relativity

Hello, this is Cynthia from the think-team! 😊

Other than doing research regarding climate change and sustainability issues, these days I also get exposure to the management, particularly to understand the attitude and behaviour of each gift maker. I believe this is my colleague, Amanda’s appetite. 😁

Hence, I am interested in reading books related to human resource management, particularly with a diverse background like in these days. One of the books that I am currently reading is titled the Culture Map by Erin Meyer (more readings are still on the reading list in addition to scientific journals 😁 ). One of the factors that the author introduced is cultural relativity which I think we need to understand when we work in an international setting. Notably, speaking of culture might be a sensitive topic, but I do not want to offend any particular culture, but I believe this could be a piece of good information or knowledge for you in a workplace. 😉

Since the early days of, our company has never been deserted from multi-national giftmakers. Before the COVID pandemic, we always got visited by interns from Europe, North America, Asia Pacific, and more, that work hand-in-hand to grow this company until today. Ensuring smooth coordination and communication with diverse backgrounds might be challenging for some people, especially those who live in their native lands and never get exposed to the multi-national setting.

Have you ever experienced when interacting with your peers or colleagues in a meeting, but what you got is silent treatment? Or have you joined a meeting, but the speakers talk in indirect or subtle ways, so sometimes you need to read between the lines and vice versa?

Let me tell you my experience. My master degree was in the Erasmus Mundus program that allowed me to stay in three different European countries within 2 years (i.e., Spain, France, and Sweden). If I may compare, I noticed the lecturers during my class in Spain often gave negative feedback implicitly, while the lecturers or my supervisors in Sweden usually gave me direct negative feedback without subtle communication. Or, meeting in Spain normally delays, whereas it is always well-planned and organised when we do a meeting in Sweden. According to Meyer, cultural relativity is the key to understanding the cultural implications on human interactions like the figure below according to time management. Also, cultural relativity helps you understand other cultures relatively from yours.

Based on my experience, I believe Swedish people might think French people are a bit disorganised and always late, while Indonesian might think Swedish people are so strict in time. So, understanding cultural relativity could help you to manage an international team that can work together successfully towards a vision. Also, you should be smart and aware in positioning yourself in a diverse environment like So, are you interested in joining an international environment like You can apply here:

Thanks for reading! Please look forward to the next blog. 😉

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Where Japanese will sit in the scale ;-)

Apr 21, 2021
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Please look forward to next blog ;)

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