What time should we meet?

This cross-cultural dating mishap (in response to this post, and building on this thread) is a true story submitted by Erin in Sydney:

I have many cultural mis-step stories in general, but the only one date-wise I can think of is this one when I was living in Chile. (Warning: it’s not hugely funny or unique!)

First date: I turn up “on time” (Chilean time, e.g., 45 minutes late). He turns up on time (gringa time, at the agreed time). He was a bit peeved that I made him wait so long.

Second date: I turn up on time (gringa time). He turns up on time (Chilean time). This time I had to wait nearly an hour.

We ended up pololeando (a Chilean word meaning “dating”) … though the timing thing was always an issue.

Thank you, Erin. Everyone, we are eager to hear a few of your “mis-steps!” It is our belief that sharing our Cultural DeFectives with others can even the playing field a bit, showing that intercultural competence is a lifelong enjoyable learning journey rather than a static state.

Miscommunication: Too Much Cultural Sensitivity!

This cross-cultural dating mishap (in response to this post) is a true story from UC Berkeley’s International House, submitted by Joe Lurie:

A German male student and a Guatemalan female student have agreed to go out on an evening date beginning at 8pm. Both wishing to make a good impression, decide to leverage their cross-cultural skills and sensitivity when dealing with approaches to time. The German fellow, normally stereotypically monochronic — 8 means perhaps five to eight — arrives at 8:45 only to find the anxious, somewhat distressed Guatemalan woman saying, “Where have you been? I have been ready since 7:50  as I wanted to be sensitive to your cultural clock.”

Adopting each other’s styles provoked an amusing disconnect — but in this case, not serious. They are married today!

Thank you, Joe! Reminds me how often I used to bow in Japan when my colleagues would simultaneously stick out their arms in anticipation of a handshake.