3 Cross-Cultural Workplace Conflicts for Americans and Hispanics

Clearly, not all members of any group will behave in the same way. But managers who can recognize cultural patterns and communication styles of their diverse employees will be better able to avoid  cross cultural conflict in the workplace. 

Here are 3 sources of cross cultural-conflict for Americans and Hispanics in the workplace:

1. Concepts Of Time
For Americans, time is a rigidly measured, valuable resource to spend or save, but not to waste. Time is linear and limited. Hispanic culture is  more relaxed and flexible about time. For Hispanics, personal interactions are valued over schedules. Many tasks overlap, and use of  time is  fluid, adjusting for the situation. Possible Workplace Conflict: Hispanics and Americans may have different expectations surrounding  pace of performance, and adherence to schedules  and deadlines. Punctuality can be a problem.

2. Nonverbal Communication
93% of communication is in tone and body language, and therefore a large source of cross cultural miscommunication. Most Americans prefer “personal space” and leave about 2 feet between them when speaking. Americans are “low touch.” They may shake hands but usually don’t kiss. Hispanic culture is “high touch.” People may kiss on the cheek, touch during conversation, and stand closer than many Americans are comfortable with. Possible Workplace Conflict: “High touch” behavior in the workplace might be seen as overly friendly, inappropriate, and in some cases considered sexual harassment.

3. Preferred Leadership Style
A study by the National Community for Latino Leadership found that only Latinos emphasized compassion and caring  as qualities they want to see in leaders. American manager usually do not get involved in the personal lives of their employees, focusing primarily on performance. Possible Workplace Conflict: A manager who focuses solely on the bottom line may be seen as cold, and not get the same commitment from staff as the manager who seeks to build relationships and show compassion.

To avoid cross-cultural conflict, managers and employees need to understand each other’s ideas about work and the workplace. American managers should explain workplace culture and expected behaviors, as well as potential consequences for not adhering to cultural expectations.

Have you experienced these conflict situations? What happened?

This entry was posted in American culture, Hispanic culture, cross cultural conflict and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to 3 Cross-Cultural Workplace Conflicts for Americans and Hispanics

  1. I liked this article. I see the similarities between Hispanic and African culture, since I also have talked about the differences between American and African culture in my book, “Africans and Americans: Embracing Cultural Differences,” http://www.lulu.com/content/105001

  2. Queta Bauer says:

    All these theories about intercultural communications are true up to certain point. This is probably more valid in Latin America, and even there it depends on the degree of Americanization the person has. In the U.S. it very much depends on the degree of acculturation the Hispanic person has. I know Latinos who are mostly English dominant who are extremely punctual. Fluid time does not exist in their work environment. Some do are punctual , consciously, because they do not want to be examples of the stereotype, and others do it because that’s the way to present yourself professionally. And most of them do that. Bottom line, when you talk about Hispanics you cannot generalize. You can segment the Hispanic market in as many way as you can segment an orange: endlessly.
    http://www.culturalcommunications.com

    • Queta Bauer says:

      Sorry, I had to make some correctrions to the previous entry and to my email:
      All these theories about intercultural communications are true up to certain point. This is probably more valid in Latin America, and even there it depends on the degree of Americanization the person has. In the U.S. it very much depends on the degree of acculturation the Hispanic person has. I know Latinos who are mostly English dominant who are extremely punctual. Fluid time does not exist in their work environment. Some are punctual, consciously, because they do not want to be examples of the stereotype, and others do it because that’s the way to present yourself professionally; and most of them do that. Bottom line, when you talk about Hispanics you cannot generalize. You can segment the Hispanic market in as many ways as you can segment an orange: endlessly.

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