When in Rome do as the Romans do, goes an old adage. Sometimes, though, it might be quite difficult to fit in. And it’s not about not trying hard enough. It’s about experience, or rather the lack of it.

Our world has turned into a global village and the knowledge of different cultures and customs has become an indispensable part of our work life. This knowledge is often key to success in an international environment.

Check out: When Crossing Cultures, Use Global Dexterity






  • deference – courteous regard; respect
  • humility – the quality or condition of being humble; modest opinion or estimate of one’s own importance, rank, etc.
  • clumsy – awkward in movement or action; without skill or grace
  • dexterity – mental adroitness or skill; cleverness.
  • compromise (v) – to expose or make vulnerable to danger, suspicion, scandal, etc.; jeopardize
  • hit the bull’s eye – to be exactly right


Think about it

Based on the article answer the questions below.

  • How did Greg prepare for the trip to China?
  • What was wrong about his reaction to being complimented on his knowledge of Chinese?
  • What is the relation between internal inflexibility culturewise and external performance.
  • What is the role of a cultural mentor?
  • What is a forgiveness strategy?


Practice makes perfect


Put the words in bold in the blank spaces. Change their forms (tenses, plurals) if necessary.

evasive , realize, praise, counter, backtrack, clue, counterpart, awkward, impress, translate


Greg quickly______, however, that learning cultural differences in theory does not always ______ into successful behavior in practice. The first problem comes when Greg, who is ______ for his “excellent Chinese,” proudly accept the acknowledgement, not realizing how publicly expressing pride in this way runs ______ to the important role of humility in Chinese culture and could come across as arrogant to his Chinese______ . He then quickly ______ and deflects the praise, but feels ______ and clumsy doing so. Next, Greg tries to use a more indirect communication style to ______ his colleagues. But here again, Greg struggles. Greg is such a straight shooter by nature that it feels awkward and ______ not to say what he means. He also has no ______ how indirect he should be. By the end, it becomes frustrating, and all Greg wants to do is end the conversation.


Match the verbs in bold with the expressions below them to form correct phrases. Find the phrases in the article.

forge, compromise, make, suffer, negotiate, perform

  • a critical deal with a distributor
  • the same fate as Greg
  • behaviors you aren’t used to
  • your authenticity
  • relationships in any culture.
  • mistakes


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