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If you like to be on time and your partner likes to take their time

Pic Credit: Salvatore Vuono

Pic Credit: Salvatore Vuono

There is no way I can be generic in this post, so let's just put it out there:

I'm German, and I have a "J" in my Type preferences.  

My husband is Spanish, and he has a "P" in his Type code.  

Disaster waiting to happen, I hear you chuckle? You have no idea.  

A prominent German saying goes, 'don't put off til tomorrow what you can do today'. ("Was Du heute kannst besorgen, das verschiebe nicht auf morgen." - rhymes and everything.) 

Probably the most-used word in the Spanish language? "Mañana." (Tomorrow.) 

What do we know about people with Judging preferences?

They like to finish things, tick them off their to-do list, they generally have a keen sense of time,  tend to be early-starting in their projects, as well as punctual.  

What do we know about people with Perceiving preferences? 

They like to keep their options open, they enjoy the information-intake / data-gathering process a lot more than the decision-making one, they are energized by last-minute pressures, and may not always be punctual.  

Having said that, "P" does not necessarily stand for procrastinating, oh no: "J"s may also be late, because for them it's often a question of, "ooh, Just one more thing..." 

In preparing for an upcoming culture training, I recently asked my dear hubby how he would describe his sense of time-keeping. His answer:

"Well, when you say 'we need to leave at 8 o'clock', that's ambiguous to me. Because I don't know if it means we get ready to leave at 8, or we close the door at 8, or we are in the car at 8, or we leave the parking lot at 8... what does 8 o'clock mean?" 

This is where I'm screaming "HOW IS 8 O'CLOCK AMBIGUOUS???" in my head.  

"'We're leaving at 8' means we're closing the door behind us at 8, darling. Thanks for giving me a chance to clarify."

But ok, I wanted to dig deeper. 

"In business, when you have a meeting at 9.00 am and you show up at 9.05 am, don't you feel rushed? Or bad for making the other people wait?" 

"No, I guess I don't. Why? Because it's never really actually life-threatening if I'm a little late, and also - I don't mind being kept waiting, either. I've spend a lot of time waiting for others, and that's  fine." 

Huh. Interesting. When I'm kept waiting, I think it's quite rude and disrespectful. I still don't go as far as my mother and insist on having the whole week's grocery shopping done before 8.30 am on a Saturday, but still. Delays bug me. 

Obviously, not all Germans have Judging preferences, and not all Spaniards have Perceiving preferences - and in part, I blame the weather. There simply aren't that many good usable hours of sunlight up in the North, so we had to learn to manager our time much more efficiently, bringing in the harvest etc. Whereas in Spain - you can be pretty sure that the sun will shine again tomorrow, giving you time to relax today and finish your chores later.  

What do you think? 




How Type and Culture interact

expats_MBTI overlay images

expats_MBTI overlay images

We come into the world born with a pre-disposition to use our brains in certain ways. We go out to seek interactions and experiences that allow us to shine and use our preferred functions, reinforcing their strength and our aptitude in using them. At the same time, our surroundings influence how we express our preferences. Depending on when and where we grow up, society’s and our family’s feedback may encourage or suppress development of our natural preferences.

Different cultures developed as a response to outside threats to ensure survival of the species. Today, cultural behavior is driven by values.

The introverted Feeling (Fi) function gives meaning to values. The position of Fi in our type code gives clues as to how conscious we are of our values preferences. An exploration of our own values is the first step to understanding our cultural preferences. In turn, we can begin to understand how and why people from other cultures behave differently.

For expats, international assignments are tremendous change processes. Temperament™ / Essential Motivators™ information helps expats to prepare and adapt to un-expected changes. The fourth function provides insight into potential stress triggers, while the third can be applied to reduce stress and being playful, enjoying one’s time abroad.

In my experience, especially with German clients, we have to pay particular attention to the verbiage of competence and experience. For Germans, these words – as well as education, knowledge, and mastery – are anchored in cultural beliefs. It is therefore common when discussing Theorist™ descriptors for Germans of all types to be drawn to the NT profile.

When working with international clients, it is important to verify their personality types through their cultural lenses. The practitioner or coach should ideally be aware of their own cultural programming and personality type preferences to reduce projection and misinterpretation, as well as have a basic understanding of the cultural values and beliefs in the client’s home country.



Skill-booster: How US Americans and Germans Communicate Differently

Here's another example in our comic series of how communication differs across cultures. In this case, a conversation with a friend of mine sparked the idea. He mentioned his manager had given him the following constructive feedback in one of their performance evaluations:

Whenever the manager would ask him to do something, my friend would simply say "yes, I understand", or ask clarifying questions as necessary.

The manager, having worked with a primarily US American workforce, was not used to this approach. She expected my friend to use repetitions, reframes, re-wording, and more elaborate assurances to show he had understood and was indeed up to the task.

Once she explicitly suggested he use these communication methods to signal to her that he understood what was expected, the real conversation began.

"Thank you for telling me this," my friend said. "I wasn't aware of it before. This is probably a cultural difference between our two communication styles."

"How so?" asked his manager.

"I have several years of experience in this field. And we have been working together for a while now. So, when you are asking me to do something and I know what's required, I don't see the need to repeat it back to you."

"OK," said the manager. "But could you try to use some reframes anyway please?"

"Well, to be honest," replied my friend, "that would make me feel as if you mistrust my competence. Let me ask you this: have I ever given you reason to doubt I understood what was needed? Was my work output ever of unacceptable quality or faulty in any way?"

"No, no it wasn't."

"Maybe we can agree on a compromise: you will let me know the minute something isn't done correctly or as you expected, and I'll be sure to ask those clarifying questions and repeat back if it's something new or unclear."


How are instructions and feedback usually handled in your cross-cultural working relationship? Does this sound familiar to any of you? How are you handling the differences?

Thanks to Stuart Miles for the free pic!