Reaching across the Divide

Quote

These days we see, hear, and read about divides—political, racial, religious, economic, etc.—all the ways we are different from each other. It often seems these differences are exploited and amplified to encourage disagreement and conflict. It is hard to combat the feeling that we are living in a time of strong opinions and large cultural differences. But there have been previous situations of large cultural divides and evidence that people have bridged those cultural gaps in wonderful ways.

On a recent trip to Astoria, Oregon, a small town on the northwest tip of the state where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean, I was reminded of how the town’s history is unusually multicultural. Of course, the first inhabitants were native peoples who lived in the area for thousands of years prior to the first Europeans arriving in 1792. The explorers Lewis and Clark and members of their cross-continent expedition spent the winter of 1805-06 in the area. By 1850 the town had 250 inhabitants, a large city for the time, and by 1920 it boasted over 14,000 residents— the second largest city in Oregon.

Astoria was noted for being very cosmopolitan; timber and fishing brought immigrants from around the world including Finns, Swedes, Chinese, and East Indians, among others. In fact, the influence of the Finns was so strong that street signs were in English and Finnish—the only bilingual city in Oregon at the time.

I ran across a story from Oregon folklore that illustrates the influence of the Finns on Astoria. Like most such handed-down stories, one likes to think they are describing the original situation accurately.

“A 16-year old girl from Finland, who had traveled to the US to live with her grandparents in Astoria, arrived unmet at the RR station. Failing to see her grandparents and unable to speak English, she slumped down on the wooden platform of the depot and began to sob. Seeing her anguish, a Chinese passerby paused to ask what was wrong. Tearfully, she told him. “Where do your grandparents live?” he asked. She took from the pocket of her dress a slip of paper and gave it to the man. “I know where this house is at,” he said. “I will take you there.” And he picked up her suitcase.

As they walked, the girl asked, “How is it that you speak Finnish?” “In Astoria,” the Chinese good samaritan replied, “if you do not speak Finnish you had better move elsewhere.” [from: in search of Western Oregon, Ralph Friedman, 1990, p. 3]

I found this story delightful and a great illustration of life in early Astoria. And a wonderful example of making an effort to reach across the divide.

But what could a Cultural Detective see in this story? I could imagine the young woman exhibiting the Finnish value of Sisu (Perseverance) by making the trek by herself. And perhaps the Chinese value of Jia ting (Family) influenced the gentleman’s decision to help the young lady. And/or maybe, as an immigrant himself and a Blended Culture person, he recognized the challenges of landing in a strange place with no one to meet you. Contextuality (It all depends) is an important Blended Culture value.

Once the Cultural Detective way of viewing the world becomes a habit, you can apply it in all sorts of circumstances, past and present. Using a Cultural Detective approach to viewing history can inform us of the issues that both “sides” faced in any interaction. And remember that “history” can be that discussion you had with your co-worker last week!

In these times of deep divisions, it is useful to understand the underlying values that impact a situation in order to figure out a solution. Using the Cultural Detective Online provides immediate access to the values of over 60 cultures, providing a roadmap for discovery, offering clues and a process to sort out challenges and to build bridges across divisions. We don’t have to always agree, but as interculturalists, we should definitely do our best to understand one another.

New Online Course

Cultural Detective has grown beyond my wildest dreams. I always say a product is like a child—once it launches into the world, it takes on a life of its own. People use products in ways beyond their creators’ vision. Gratefully, CD has been used by governments, NGOs, spiritual communities, businesses and universities, among many others, to build bridges across divides of opinion, behavior and world view.

You may also remember that we have partnered with our colleagues at Personal Leadership to create a hybrid method that gives EPIC results: EPIC: Essential Practice for Intercultural Competence. EPIC is a go-to method in much of my consulting, coaching and training work.

One of our clients—Debbie Bayes from CultureCrux—a very talented professional who lived for years in the Middle East and is currently in the USA, has put together a wonderful and reasonably priced online course that teaches users the EPIC method. This is 100% Debbie’s course, and she has done a terrific job putting it together.

I urge you to enroll or to pass on her announcement, below, to those you think might be interested. Your enrollment includes license for your use of Cultural Detective Online as well as EPIC. Together we can transform this world of ours, building bridges instead of walls.

Below is her course announcement.

migrant-caravan-1-640x480.png

“The world is experiencing the biggest movement of people since World War II.”
—Rachel Hallet, World Economic Forum
The flow of people around the world in recent years has been extraordinary. The reactions to this movement have also been extreme. Pictures of migrant caravans like the one above elicit emotions that range from profound fear to deep compassion.
The bonus class in the Increasing Intercultural Competence course will create a space to first develop greater self-understanding about your own reactions to immigrants and the role your culture has in how you view these issues. It will also equip you to guide others through productive, respectful, and informed conversations about these explosive and polarizing questions.
Intercultural competence is not only an important skill for people who intend to live their lives abroad. It is also an essential skill for those who remain in the country where they were born but interact on a daily basis with people from different cultures in their neighborhoods, schools, and workplaces. It is an essential skill as well for those whose power to vote impacts people all over the world who don’t have that power.
Register today for Increasing Intercultural Competence (culturecrux.net) and join us on a journey that will transform the way you see both yourself and the world around you.
Debbie
P.S. See some F.A.Q. below but feel free to contact me with any questions as well debbie@culturecrux.org.
Image
Image

 

Registration is Open!

I’m putting the final touches on the Increasing Intercultural Competence online course. It is now open for registration at culturecrux.net.

You can also find a link on my website (culturecrux.org) under Services/online courses.

The course outline is at the bottom of this page.

 

A Few Important Things for You to Know

  • I will be sending out a number of emails between September 16th and 26th to give you more details about the course. In the future you will only receive these kinds of emails if you sign up specifically to get information on intercultural competence development and courses offered.This first time though, I would like you to receive these emails so you have a sense of what’s going on. Many of you are part of what has made this class possible!
  • This course isn’t for everyone but if it’s not something for you at this time I expect you know someone who would benefit from it. Feel free to share this info with others you know who might be interested.
  • Who is it for? The course is for those who interact with people from different cultural backgrounds every day in workplaces, communities, schools, universities, and faith-based organizations and who want to develop their ability to do so more capably, confidently, and effectively. It is also a great course for people who are preparing for short or long term international work.
  • Campus pastors will be able to sign up for a discounted course called Special Course: Increasing Intercultural Competence for Campus Pastors which will have exactly the same content as the Increasing Intercultural Competence course. To confirm they are qualified to receive the discount, I will need campus pastors to email me when they register with their name, university where they work, group they work with (Chi Alpha, Cru, or Intervarsity) and their role (director, staff, admin, intern, other).

Stay tuned! More info coming soon. For now, please look over the course outline below and let me know if you have any questions.

Thanks!

Debbie

Increasing Intercultural Competence
Course Tuition: $300 (US)

Increasing Intercultural Competence will center on training you in EPIC (Essential Practice for Intercultural Competence). EPIC is a fun, eye-opening, and practical method of learning to engage with and work through cultural confusion and conflict in ways which lead to right action and creative cultural bridge-building.

It is a process that you can begin using immediately in your every day life and you can continue to use throughout your life as you work to increase your ability to understand and interact positively with people from different cultural backgrounds.

Extremely valuable training for anyone involved in community service, government, education, healthcare, business, church leadership, or other faith-based organizations.

Class One – Introduction to EPIC and Cultural Detective Website

  • A 30-day subscription to the Cultural Detective website (culturaldetective.com) is included in the course! The first class will introduce you to the website and give you time to explore and learn to navigate this fantastic resource which we will be using throughout the course.

Class Two – Something’s Up: Attending to Judgment, Emotion, and Physical Sensation

  • Learn how to stay engaged and open when faced with cultural confusion or conflict.
  • Recognize how our judgments, emotions, and physical sensations can be either barriers or cluesto finding creative and productive ways forward.

Class Three – Careful Observation, Values, and Beliefs

  • Practice your skills of careful observation as we continue to engage with a real life intercultural incident.
  • Develop your ability to look behind the words and actions of cultural others to understanding the values and beliefs behind them.

Class Four – Stillness, Ambiguity, Vision, and Cultural Bridges

  • Learn the role of cultivating stillness, engaging ambiguity, and aligning with vision in interactions with cultural others as we continue to press into a real life intercultural incident.
  • Complete the first time through the EPIC process by pulling together all you have learned to this point and building some creative cultural bridges as you seek to resolve the conflict we have explored in the intercultural incident.

Class Five – Applying the EPIC Process to Your Own Context Part I

  • We will practice the EPIC process again but but this time with the opportunity to deepen your understanding and apply these principals to your own context.

Class Six – Applying the EPIC Process to Your Own Context Part II

  • Pulling together all you have done so far, you will explore potential right action and creative cultural bridges in your own situation.

Class Seven – BONUS CLASS on a special topic which I will announce next week!

  • The bonus class will provide you with an additional opportunity to move through the EPIC process with a focus on a current hot issue in North America today which involves cultural differences.
  • Learn to work through this sensitive issue and gain the knowledge and skills to lead others through it as well.

Class Eight – Continuing your Journey: You’re Not Done Yet!

  • During this final class I will introduce several valuable resources and fun ideas which will equip you to continue your journey of developing your intercultural abilities long after you complete this course.
Image
Image
Image
F.A.Q.
  • When does the course start? What’s the schedule? It is an entirely self-paced course so it will start when you start and end when you end. The only thing that has a time limit is the 30-day subscription to Cultural Detective but that won’t begin until you decide to begin it. You will need access to Cultural Detectives during the first four classes. It would be nice to have it during the last four classes but it’s not essential. 
  • How much time does it take? Each of the eight classes in the course will take about an hour to complete. That includes watching short videos (just a few minutes each) and doing the exercises included. But, again, it is self-paced so you can do as much or as little as you want at any given time. The course is designed to fit anyone’s schedule, no matter how busy.
  • Are there tests? No! As with the free mini-course that I launched over the summer, this course leans more toward the practical than the academic. You will learn real skills that you can begin using right away in everyday life and you can continue to use throughout your life. It can be a great course to take with a spouse or to discuss with a friend who is also taking it. Learning together is more fun!

CD Certification in Mexico in January!

DSC_4549You have asked for this. Repeatedly. “Help us get out of the snow, cold, and grayness of winter” for some terrific intercultural professional development. A Cultural Detective Facilitator Certification Workshop will be held January 16-18, 2020, in my hometown for the past 12 years—Mazatlán, México.

Mazatlán is home to gorgeous tropical colonial architecture, world-class seafood, dozens of miles of pristine beaches, a seven-mile oceanfront promenade, an historic lighthouse with crystal bridge, and some of Latin America’s best opera, ballet, and modern dance.  Located at the mouth of the Sea of Cortés, you can watch whales doing acrobatics, dolphins and manta rays jumping, huge colonies of tropical birds, and witness some of the world’s most dramatic sunsets. Mazatlecos or “salty feet” (patasaladas) are some of the most outgoing, friendly, and inclusive people you will ever meet. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

 

I rarely facilitate these workshops, but I will this time, and I hope you’ll join me to learn more about two of my favorite things: Cultural Detective and Mazatlán. Certifications are highly interactive; this one will include a project in the community to enable attendees to get to know a bit of local culture and gain a feel for its people. In addition, we will have optional morning and evening activities to make the most of the location.

Cultural Detective is one of only two process-based intercultural competence development methods, and the only one available online for ongoing learning. Groups and teams improve their ability to collaborate by working together to debrief their own real experiences and sharing their Personal Values Lenses.

These workshops get rave reviews from both highly experienced professionals and those new to the intercultural field:

  • “Cultural Detective has changed my programs from a ‘deliverer of information’ focus to that of discovery, with less pressure on myself and participants.”
  • “Better than a master intercultural workshop! Facilitator exuded training experience and intercultural expertise.”
  • “Cultural Detective has become the backbone, the design core, of almost everything I do.”
  • “Cultural Detective is so versatile: it’s useful for a variety of purposes and it can be used in so many ways. It’s broadened and deepened my repertoire of effectiveness.”
  • “Cultural Detective has enabled me to resolve counter-productive conflicts between co-workers much more effectively.”
  • “Cultural Detective is a wonderful tool! It will help any team to work better as a team.”
  • “Cultural Detective is indescribably valuable in providing directions and methodology to stimulate intercultural awareness and competence.”
  • “Cultural Detective helps me to be a better manager of my employees. It helps make my company attractive to a younger and more diverse workforce.”
  • “Cultural Detective helps me not to be so quick to get angry or criticize. It has made me much more productive.”

Clients have shown us that regular on-the-job use of Cultural Detective improves scores on the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI); one client report its staff gained two stages in just four months! Customers also tell us that use of Cultural Detective increases their bottom line:

  • One client directly attributed a 30% increase in customer satisfaction to Cultural Detective.
  • Dozens of consultants have reported sales increases as their clients continue using their subscriptions to Cultural Detective Online and then ask the consultant back for further in-depth training, consulting and coaching.

Our workshop will begin on Thursday evening from 5 – 8pm for a welcome reception and workshop. This will allow you to fly in that day, take a walk on the beach, and soak in some sunshine before joining us for sunset. Both Friday and Saturday we will meet from 9am – 5pm, and will conclude the program on Saturday with a no-host dinner and night on the town. You may fly out at your leisure on Sunday or plan to stay longer for a holiday.

Our venue is a charming smaller resort hotel right on the prime beach in the Golden Zone—Las Flores Beach Resort. Single rooms have two full size beds for 1755 pesos/night (about US$92); suites also have two beds, a guaranteed ocean view, sitting room, kitchenette, and terrace for 2539 pesos/night (about US$134). There are numerous less expensive options as well as more luxurious lodging if you prefer.

Register now to secure your early-bird reduced rate. Click here for more information, call +1-913-902-0243, or email Greg or Dianne at cd@culturaldetective.com. We look forward to working with you, and thank you for all you do to promote much-needed intercultural competence in this world of ours!

Theater Facilitates Difficult Conversations

American DreamsIncreasingly US American families are split between red and blue, torn over how to deal with issues ranging from immigration to women’s bodies to world trade. Young and old report that they no longer talk politics or religion with even their closest friends; there seems to be no space for the crucially important task of discussing and thinking deeply in community about important yet delicate matters facing the nation.

News feeds now have razor-thin aim, reinforcing what we already believe, hardening and emotionalizing beliefs into convictions so that we feel anger towards our neighbors. Amidst this reality are frequent revelations about foreign powers feeding the frenzy of hatred; their active fomenting of division within US American society is the newest weapon of mass destruction.

How do we reclaim our public spaces for civil discourse? Can we think things through together, deeply and constructively, without degenerating into insults? One new hope has presented itself in the form of an extremely well-reviewed interactive play called “American Dreams.” According to the website, “American Dreams” is:

“An immersive, interactive theatrical event that imagines a world where the only way to become a U.S. citizen is by competing in a nationally-televised game show run by the U.S. government.

The live “studio” audience votes after each of the five rounds, determining which contestant will win the ultimate prize — citizenship to the “greatest country on earth.”

Weaving multiple levels of audience engagement with up-to-the-moment questions about immigration and citizenship, this playful participatory performance invites us to explore who and what we choose to believe — and how those choices shape who we are as people, communities, and nations.

Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow:


“American Dreams” creates a relaxed atmosphere with plenty of critical thinking as well as a bit of learning about the laws of the USA and the rights of its citizens and residents. CPT’s Executive Artistic Director, Raymond Bobgan, says the play captures the fact that:

“To live in the Unites States now is to always live in that tension between desire for freedom and equality for all people and at the same time the desire to protect what we have achieved.”

The performance will be making a “Red State Swing State Tour” in summer 2020, and the next important step is to bring “American Dreams” to your community to help recapture civil public discourse and critical thinking; enough of the “dumbing down” of the USA by outside powers and our own laziness or righteousness! Click here to learn about bringing the show to your city!

CD Certification May 27-28 in Belgium

We receive so many requests from people based in Europe who want to attend a Cultural Detective Certification. If you live in Europe, this is your only chance to attend one this year on your home continent at an unbelievable price, so please do not miss out! Also very convenient for anyone attending the 2019 SIETAR Europa Congress in Leuven.

Conducted by Tatyana Fertelmeyster, this workshop will be a pre-conference event for the SIETAR Europa Conference. Participants will learn to facilitate Cultural Detective’s state-of-the-art, developmentally appropriate, theoretically-grounded and immediately practical method to build intercultural competence in their organizations, communities and teams.

For more information click here. To register click here.

Webinar Registration for Prisoners of Our Prisms

The award-winning book, Perception And Deception: A Mind-Opening Journey Across Cultures, written by Joe Lurie and published by Cultural Detective, has just been released in its second, revised edition. Each chapter now includes application questions which are great for classroom use, book club discussions, and executive or team development purposes.

Joe Lurie, an extraordinary storyteller who is Executive Director Emeritus of the University of California Berkeley’s International House, will offer a complimentary one-hour webinar full of his trademark stories on Tuesday, 23rd April, 2019, at 9:00 am Los Angeles time. Entitled, Prisoners of Our Prisms: Understanding Sources of Misunderstandings Across Cultures, the webinar will highlight how and why participants perceive and interpret the same image differently and how intercultural stories and activities from the book can be used to heighten self awareness—a fundamental premise for enhancing intercultural skills and insights.

The event is free of charge but registration is required. We look forward to seeing you there!

 

Excellent New Classroom Tool & a Great Read!

Book Cover

We are thrilled to announce that this award-winning volume is newly updated with application questions for each chapter and fully integrates with your Cultural Detective Online subscription! Purchase it now for your classroom or for holiday gifting.

Perception and Deception: A Mind-Opening Journey Across Cultures, 2nd edition, by Joe Lurie, Cross-Cultural Communications Trainer, Speaker and Emeritus Executive Director of UC Berkeley’s International House

What do your experiences tell you when you’re in line behind a bald man: Is he a militant? A monk? A punk? A neo-Nazi?… Or perhaps a cancer patient?

With YouTube, tweets and fake news instantly crossing cultures without context in this time of globalization, it’s essential to understand the actual meanings and intentions behind words, images and actions that seem abnormal or provocative. In line, online and off-line, we’re meeting many more “strangers.” There’s new wisdom in the Lebanese proverb: “Every stranger is a blind man.” And so, we face an urgency to teach students and professionals far more about other cultures and give them the intercultural skills to navigate globalization’s turbulent waters. That’s why, in collaboration with Cultural Detective, I’ve greatly expanded the first award-winning edition of Perception And Deception, A Mind-Opening Journey Across Cultures.

Think globalization is bringing us closer together? Think again. With refugees crossing cultures without preparation on either side, the dangers of intercultural miscommunication are intensifying. Why do many refugees traumatized by violence find Western “talk therapy” alienating? As a Syrian refugee confided, “I can’t share my painful, humiliating stories with a stranger.” A Sudanese refugee was diagnosed “psychotic” because she seemed to be talking to herself; her Boston psychiatrist was unaware that in her world, conversing with ancestors is normal. Some French see a Muslim woman in a burkina—a full body suit—as oppressed or as a potential terrorist. Yet the woman considers her burkini liberating, because she can swim modestly. Recently, a UC Berkeley student with a Spanish last name was snidely asked when she’d return to Mexico. Her angered response, “I’m from Kansas and I don’t speak Spanish.”

To enable use of the well-received stories in the first edition as springboards for developing intercultural competence, I’ve added a broad array of interactive questions and activities at the end of each chapter in this expanded new edition, as well as a brand new chapter, “Globalization and its Disconnects—Convergence Without Context.” It focuses in large part on the spiraling misunderstandings across cultures, especially in the worlds of refugees, religion, and responses to technology.

To better cope with the disrupting forces of globalization, each chapters’ questions and activities are designed to develop and heighten cultural self-awareness and sensitivity to others, among students, individuals and groups of all backgrounds and professions. Some of the included interactive, personalized activities are available for those who take advantage of Cultural Detective‘s superb, research-based, internationally tested online platform providing access to nearly 70 packages of rich intercultural material: Cultural Detective Online; other questions are useful on their own, without a subscription.

Below is a two-minute video recorded at the Commonwealth Club of California, introducing the first edition:

May the new edition’s stories and interactive activities addressing the disrupting forces of globalization and migration offer positive paths for engaging with difference without fear and by seeing with new eyes!

For further information and reviews about the book, or to order it from Amazon, visit PerceptionAndDeception.com; and to learn more about Cultural Detective’s anytime, anywhere intercultural competence development toolbox and virtual coach visit: www.CulturalDetective.com/cdonline.

Testing an Incredible New Process

DYF flipchart

This chart paper contains words that describe the Spanish-speaking families. The client still has that sheet up in their conference room months after the training.

Guest blog post by Bego Lozano, who has lived and worked in different countries and cultures over the past 20 years. Right now, she calls home the Bay Area of California where she focuses on mindful leadership and coaching.

As a fan and user of both Cultural Detective® and Personal Leadership®, I was delighted to learn that there is a tool called EPIC (Essential Practice of Intercultural Competence) that combines both.

I recently used the EPIC Toolkit to design, deliver and facilitate a training for a California-based NGO that focuses on supporting those affected by Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease that currently has no cure. This NGO had a unique challenge: funding for programs aimed at Spanish-speaking families had stopped with the 2008 financial crisis and had only recently returned. Their first attempt at organizing an event had fallen short of their expectations—both their internal expectations and those of their partners. They hired me to help make sure that didn’t happen again; they wanted to get the word out about prevention and treatment in powerful and meaningful ways. I turned to EPIC.

The beauty of EPIC is that participants develop awareness into what they personally bring to their work, plus gain insight and understanding of the core values of a culture different than their own. Quite often we forget that as human beings we bring our own cultural lenses to everything we do, and understanding a situation from our own perspective only gives us, at most, half the picture.

After an EPIC training, participants become more mindful of their own values and actions—why they respond in the ways they do. They learn to appreciate the values of the different culture, and most importantly, to build bridges to work better together.

EPIC is not a one-time fix; it is a process of continuous feedback and change, a mobius strip that has space for constant improvement and nuances. It is about competence, and therefore it includes practicing relentlessly and compassionately.

Last I checked, the programs for Spanish-speaking families were doing much better: employees had implemented small and significant changes that had increased participants’ engagement and comfort and their partner’s reported meaningful improvement. People were excited about their jobs and the positive impact they can have in their communities. If you’d like to learn more about EPIC or give it a spin yourself, it is available for license and is such a value!

Ecotonos is a great tool!

We would like to thank Nicole Martin of the Rocky Mountain Institute for this guest blog post about her work with a team from SEED: Sustainable Energy for Economic Development . We are honored and privileged to know our materials aid work of this kind!

image001.jpg

I just wanted to pass on some feedback. My group of 17 really enjoyed running Ecotonos: A simulation for collaborating across cultures and identified it as a highlight of our day. Team members from SEED drew some valuable insights and connections to their real life work from it.

Since I had not seen Ecotonos run before, it is a credit to the materials that it went so well. I followed the directions and it worked! I really appreciated the clear and complete instructions.

I also wanted to share a tweak that I made. In the acculturation section, I had them create visual identifiers for their groups using craft materials. It helped them acculturate and get talking and moving.

Of course, my creative facilitation idea was sparked by forgetting the buttons back at the office 🙂 Here is a picture of a debrief. You can see the watch necklace (monochronic time group) and the mobius strip hat (polychronic time group) on the left side.

Thanks for the great tool!

To learn more about Ecotonos or to purchase the game, which you’ll be able to use for years to come and replay differently with the same group multiple times, click here.

CD India Version 2

We are proud to announce a brand-new, complete update to Cultural Detective India. As you know, we update our Cultural Detective packages a few times a year, in minor ways, as things happen around the world. Values seem to be the slowest things to change. Societal shifts take time and then, once they happen, boom! Big changes are afoot. We have a best-selling India package in our series, one that gets rave reviews, and we have been looking a long time for fresh eyes and new energy to update Professor Madhukar Shukla‘s terrific work. I am pleased as punch to report to you that two incredibly talented interculturalists have added to the greatness of this package: Shilpa Subramaniam and Melanie Martinelli. Read on for a bit of back story on this wonderful new version.

When we first discussed updating the Cultural Detective India package, we realised that we were both very drawn to the work. Being interculturalists, avid travellers and facilitators of intercultural sessions, we both felt that we could bring a different flavour to the package.

Our biggest challenge was collaborating, as our travel schedules and calendars didn’t really put us in the same geography! So it might not come as a surprise that our first brainstorming session was in a car when we were travelling out of the city (Bangalore in this case) to co-facilitate a session.

The picture above is the two of us sitting next to the river Cauvery and brainstorming our way through the package! What was so interesting about that conversation was that both of us have such different perspectives: Melanie is a Swiss national who has lived and worked in India for more than a decade and is married to an Indian; Shilpa is Indian born, was brought up all over the country and has lived and worked outside of it. And yet, we found powerful experiences and threads that we had in common when living/ working / experiencing this wonderfully diverse country. Cultural Detective strives to have authors work in teams on packages, to have this insider-outsider joint perspective, and we quickly learned why that is invaluable.

We had quite a few “breakthroughs” during the process of brainstorming and writing the CD India package, but perhaps the most interesting one was when we tested out the idea of “privilege” being one of the core Indian values. In India, privilege isn’t just hierarchy and status, it is this clear-cut idea that if you belong to a certain social strata, then there are certain privileges that are ascribed to you, and these privileges differ across strata, class and religion. Yet the word “privilege” could have such negative connotations to some that it might not fit the golden rule of core country values—no value is positive or negative, they are neutral because they can be perceived both ways. So, while we both agreed on the fact that we needed to talk (or rather write) about privilege, we wanted to find ways to present multiple facets and sides to the concept and how it manifests itself in India.

Another interesting moment was recognizing that the reason India as a culture can be complex to understand is because it has so many shades of grey. For example, communication can be direct yet indirect depending on the situation. So what could we tell our participants/readers about the communication style in India? Therein was born our new, cool (even if we say so ourselves!) table that makes distinctions among the ways in which different values are manifested across urban or rural environments, generations, in multinational corporations and domestic business. The objective of this table is to help the reader understand how the same value can be demonstrated in different—and sometimes even opposite—ways. We hope that the underlying message that is the integral CD message: always analyse the context of any situation while trying to understand or decode it.

The newly revised CD India package builds on the previous version and is updated based on current social, economic, political and business contexts. It has a lot more practical and hands-on tips and best practices for those who are living and working in India, because that’s what we as authors look for when we take off to another country. We’ve ensured that there are elements that speak to what this information means to you if you’re working and/or doing business in India. It’s been written with a lot of care (we’ve tried to stay away from declaratives), excitement (we’re getting to shape how the country is perceived!) and thought (we discarded version after version until we were satisfied with it)!

Come and take the journey to India through our new Cultural Detective India package, now available in CD Online as well as via printed PDF, and explore its vastness, complexity and uniqueness! Happy travels!