I have learned that we [foreigners] need to be more proactive if we want to participate in conversations. For example, many Americans watch the Super Bowl, so we should think of questions to ask co-workers. From my experience, I’ve seen that not many people will come up and talk to me.
There are great gaps, besides language, which exist between Asian and American cultures. From this training, I have learned how to participate more assertively in meetings and conferences.
This training has made me more aware of the politics involved in e-mail writing. I am learning practical new expressions to express myself in situations with competitive colleagues and with people of different ages.
I see the differences in my comfort in everyday situations: Supermarkets, conferences, meetings, on the phone, and in personal conversations. As I am feeling comfortable with my language skills, I find myself asking more questions during meetings, even in front of people.
I was surprised to see how Americans interrupt others, much different than people behave in Europe. At first, Americans seem friendly in conversations, but the conversations can seem superficial. Alan has shown me practical and historical reasons for some behavior—even though I still find it rude—and that has helped me take a different attitude towards my American co-workers. I am learning that proactivity is the best strategy.
- Mr. Young-Sam Kim, Korea, Science & Technology Researcher