When Cultures Clash…

In the work place it is inevitable that different cultures will, at some point, present a few obstacles and stumbling blocks. Living and working in Liberia has been an absolutely amazing experience so far. I have formed a bond with my coworkers such that many of them came to my house to celebrate the 4th of July with me last night!
That being said…
The gossip and resulting drama in the office is ABSURD! What makes it worse is that when they want to talk about me, or just plain don’t want me to understand, they switch to a regional African dialect called Mano. I had an incredibly frustrating meeting with the bossman yesterday – I have a difficult time with people trying to control my independence and he seems to think he is my acting “father” here.
Being the only foreigner in the office has it’s pros and cons. For me, I’m finding the challenges of Liberian culture to be having huge effects on my ability to penetrate the day to day workings of the office. It doesn’t help that I’m just here temporarily. I’m learning and adapting to the best of my ability and by those who wish to recognize that, it is appreciated. They are a truly great staff, that have nothing but the best intentions for me, I believe.

However,when cultures clash, there is often no easy answer. Both “sides” tend to get frustrated and have a difficult time understanding where the other is coming from! My best advice is don’t give up. If they keep trying, so should you… and vice versa!
This is not an issue unique to my situation… I have friends working in D.C. that often face similar cultural differences and struggles with their bosses and coworkers. In our global society, it is inevitable and we must, therefore, figure out the best way we can deal with it!

Sometimes agreeing to disagree and realizing that each person sees things from his/her own perspective is the very best one can do!

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