Cross Cultural

Considerations

 

The purpose of communication can vary from Culture to culture. In the West communication is meant to make a point, while the easterner communicates much of the time for the bonding process. In the west we ask “what can I do for you?” but the eastern conversation can easily last twenty minutes before coming to any point communication in the east is an experience and a skill not just an assessment-decision-solution as it is in the west.

Sharing something in the East is full of detail, so that the image is fully intact before the story can move along. Westerners often can become impatient with all these “unneeded” details. Exaggeration is often common and acceptable in the Eastern conversation in order to make the story more interesting and not seen as dishonest. The more poetic and picturesque a story is the more appreciated it will be.

The Importance of the Breaking of Bread


One can never overestimate the power of a meal in the Eastern world. Sitting down together and breaking bread even over the simplest of meals is considered sacred. Bread itself is sacred and should never be wasted, it is often kissed before eating. In Arabic the word for bread actually means “Life”. Many expressions and sayings center around the mealtime and the sacred feelings to it. When invited to  an Easterner’s table expect to be treated with the best they have to offer. To refuse such hospitality can often be seen as a big insult. All major holidays in the East center around the feast itself. The Muslim and Jew will not feel comfortable at a table with pork on it, even if it is not a required portion. It is considered dirty and should be carefully excluded from any meal offered to a Muslim. Any visit will always include a drink and small treat even if not at a meal time. An Easterner’s honor depends on his ability to give hospitality.

Cultural Tips


Avoid crossing gender barriers.

Misunderstandings arise much more quickly between opposite genders.


Avoid excessive hand gestures.

Hand gestures are not universal.


When sharing the Bible with Muslims use the

parables, the Sermon on the Mount, Psalms and Proverbs.

These are Semitic teachings which will open a Muslim’s heart.


Avoid political discussions.

Politics are extremely divisive in the Middle East, and the two differing points of view will never be changed for the better without divine intervention.


Let the friendship come first, don’t rush sharing, the Gospel isn’t something cheap.

Trust must be established before real acceptance can occur. Middle Easterners are wary of the “missionary tactic” used. Taking your time gives your sharing worth.


Honor is always a factor.

Honor directs all action in the East. This can never be overstated, all reactions and behavior are dictated by the response of the community.


Observe and learn as you go.

Always watch for how your friend behaves and ask questions to learn more. Learn from your mistakes!

East is East and West is West

Circular thought process

Emotionally oriented

Details of the story matter

possibly exaggerated

Semitic mind set

Jesus taught with a Semitic mindset

Parabling from the common ground

Linear thought process

problem solving oriented

Outline and formatted

Deductive

Latin mind set

Paul taught to the Roman Latin Mindset

Most Gentiles were Greek taught

Answering questions with story/parables

Entire story reflects the conclusion drawn.

Lessons are often learned and remembered for years afterwards.

Imagery to make the point

Women are often recognized to have a more circular communication technique in the west as well. Women tend to talk more for emotional bonds, sharing stories and details.

Sharing the Gospel with the Westerner uses logic and reasoning. IF a sacrifice is required than the sacrifice must be acceptable etc.

The letter to the Romans is a great example of the logical approach of the Latin mindset.


All have sinned= All need God

Men in the west have more linear thinking in approaching discussion.