Given the worlds extensive history and diverse variety, it is interesting how many common concepts, such as time, are rooted so firmly in a similar manner in very different societies. What is commonly not recognized is that each culture has its own notion of these concepts that are present across all cultures.   The general concept of time is very clear, however context and value vary widely. Because a person’s perception of time influences the way s/he understands time and behaves in respect to it, we ultimately have diverse views of time across cultures.

If we consider time from three vantage points – past, present and future – we can begin to understand why different cultures may espouse different orientations and the values that can be drawn from each worldview. As a leader in a global organization, it is critically important for you to understand not only that time may be viewed as scarce or plentiful, but also the context of time and how decisions are made, as well as how process, policy, and procedure is implemented and executed, may be significantly driven by the source of time orientation – past, present, and future worldviews.

Past: For many cultures, the past is, understandably, very important. Lessons learned from past mistakes are remembered and applied to current situations. In East Asia, for example, past events, notable scholars, as well as ancestors are honored and observed in ways other cultures may not fully understand. Historical context is extremely important to many European cultures as well, where nearly every speech, book, or article begins with background material providing historical perspective.  The value of the past lies in memory and history. When partnering with someone with a past orientation, it is extremely useful to frame the situation so as to allow the future to become more credible as it evolves into a new occurrence of the past. Learning from past mistakes helps to ensure we will not let them happen again. Alternatively, thinking back to positive outcomes inspires us to emulate the behaviors that resulted in the positive outcome.

Present: Many traditional cultures live in an “eternal” present. For example, many African and Native American cultures do not have verb tenses to indicate past occurrences or future events – everything is referred to in the present tense.  Another people focused on the present are Americans, who are heavily influenced by the ideas of instant gratification and short term benefits. The importance of the present is captured in the famous adage, “carpe diem” (seize the day) and in the common belief that the present is where life takes place. The challenge with a solely “in the here and now” mentality is that mistakes of the past can often be overlooked (and thus repeated), while at the same time no clear direction is defined and there is little to strive for if the future is negated.

Future: A future focused orientation usually coincides with a long-term worldview and typically resides within relationship and obligation-based cultures. Chinese and Japanese cultures, for example, are careful to build mutual commitment to relationships because they understand that many years from the present time, those relationships will continue to grow and add value. It is the view that short-term profit is not nearly as valuable as long-term growth. The future gives meaning to our present actions and defines where our dreams will materialize (if sufficient effort is made) – an important concept.

Beyond its presence in our actions, time is inherent in what we communicate. Obviously, a good balance between past, present, and future orientation is optimal, however most individuals do not occupy the precise center-point on the continuum. In order to bridge the cultural gap, you (as an intuitive global leader) must be willing and able to adapt to different time orientations, as is relevant to the culturally diverse audience you are partnering with, which is directly reflected in how you communicate. When a leader can frame communications in such a way as to connect with a preferred worldview, there is a significantly higher probability that culturally diverse orientations will connect and create leverage – to everyone’s advantage.

For the next several weeks, I will be discussing specific cultural orientations that will facilitate successful communications and business results.  You can contact me at Sheri.Mackey@LuminosityGlobal.com or by visiting our website at www.LuminosityGlobal.com. Check back next Thursday for the next installation in a multi-tiered discussion on understanding cultural orientations for successful communication Across Boundaries & Borders.

98 Responses

  1. Greetings from Florida! I’m bored at work so I decided to check out your website on my iphone during lunch break. I enjoy the information you present here and can’t wait to take
    a look when I get home. I’m shocked at how fast your blog loaded on my cell phone .. I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .
    . Anyhow, fantastic blog!

  2. Very great post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wanted to say that I have truly enjoyed browsing your weblog posts.
    After all I’ll be subscribing in your rss feed and I’m hoping you
    write once more very soon!

  3. Pingback: My Homepage
  4. Pingback: marvin smith
  5. Pingback: Online Job Killer
  6. Pingback: Villa Alanya
  7. Pingback: Tyrkia leilighet
  8. Pingback: petroleum kachels
  9. Pingback: Tropxphen Review
  10. Pingback: must read
  11. Pingback: Mirar este sitio
  12. Pingback: Portal site
  13. Pingback: Lastminute
  14. Pingback: Lastminutes
  15. Pingback: Chesapeake Pirates
  16. Pingback: Read More Here
  17. Pingback: rome vacation
  18. Pingback: Homepage
  19. Pingback: Website
  20. Pingback: party bus nj
  21. Pingback: read on
  22. Pingback: ayuda psicologica
  23. Pingback: registry cleaners
  24. Pingback: GCSE Science
  25. Pingback: asheville churches
  26. Pingback: www.foxload.com
  27. Pingback: propokerblog.com
  28. Pingback: Hard Money Loans
  29. Given the accelerated globalization process we are facing today, I’m really eager to know what kind of culture we would have 100 years from now.

  30. Pingback: Mega sena
  31. Pingback: Go Here
  32. Pingback: The Broccoli Path
  33. Pingback: cach vao facebook
  34. Pingback: click here
  35. Pingback: Home Page
  36. Pingback: jak napisac cv
  37. Pingback: best cross bows
  38. Pingback: Webshop link
  39. Pingback: check here
  40. Pingback: click site
  41. Pingback: More Help
  42. Pingback: rabaty
  43. I’m now not certain the place you are getting your info, but
    great topic. I needs to spend some time finding out much more or working out more.
    Thank you for fantastic info I was looking for this info for my mission.

  44. An impressive share! I have just forwarded this onto a coworker who
    had been conducting a little research on this.
    And he in fact ordered me breakfast simply because I stumbled upon it for
    him… lol. So let me reword this…. Thank YOU for the
    meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending time to talk about this
    matter here on your web page.

  45. I just like the valuable info you supply for your articles.
    I’ll bookmark your blog and check again here regularly.
    I’m slightly certain I’ll be told lots of new stuff
    right here! Best of luck for the following!

  46. Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and
    wanted to mention that I have truly enjoyed browsing your weblog posts.
    In any case I’ll be subscribing on your feed and I hope you write once more soon!

  47. Simply want to say your article is as amazing. The clarity to your publish is simply excellent
    and that i can suppose you’re a professional on this subject.
    Fine with your permission let me to grasp your
    RSS feed to stay updated with approaching
    post. Thanks a million and please carry on the rewarding work.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.