Who’s Adjusting to Whom?

After providing a definition of cultural adjustment in his book “The Art of Crossing Cultures,” Craig Storti goes on to point out that when we cross a cultural boundary there are actually two kinds of adjustments that we make.

The first is to “behavior on the part of the locals that is annoying, confusing, and unsettling.”

The second adjustment we have to make is within ourselves — “adjusting our own behavior that is annoying, confusing, and unsettling to the locals.”

It’s easy for those of us living cross-culturally to make a list of the things we have to adjust to in a new culture. In China, the list invariably includes things like spitting, scrums instead of lines, the traffic, and the staring.

But how about that second type of adjustment?

What behaviors do you exhibit that are annoying, confusing, and unsettling to the people where you live?

Go ahead. Make the list.  I dare you.


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2 thoughts on “Who’s Adjusting to Whom?

  1. Okay…I hope others out there comment because this could be a great list!
    Here are just a few of mine:
    I asked my helper to cut the stems off of the spinach and *gasp* throw them away!
    I asked my helper to use hot water and dish soap.
    I say “thank you” way too much
    I say “excuse me” way too much
    I smile at people I don’t know

    • @ saying “excuse me” a lot – totally true. I was first annoyed that Chinese people would just squeeze by me without saying anything and sometimes they’d give me a start because I didn’t even know they were there. But when I said “excuse me,” Chinese people were annoyed. So I guess not saying excuse me might be based on the philosophy of “I’ll squeeze by this person while disturbing them as little as possible.”