Tuesday, March 1, 2011

How's it going?

One of the humorous things of stepping out of your culture is to be able to see things that are 'normal' in your own culture but foreign in another. The opposite is true as well. It is always useful to look at another culture and see what is a part of daily life there, that is often foreign to your own culture.

One such thing for me in Africa was the way in which greetings were done. I find that greetings here are often short, sweet, to the point. They are efficient, they communicate what is necessary, but seldom more (I'm Curtis, I work at Ogletown, my family is fine). On the other hand, when I have visited other cultures, it has always stood out to me that there is significant time given to greetings. There is a commitment to the relationship, and therefore a commitment to greeting as well. I have seen 'important' discussions interrupted because someone new joined the discussion, and 10 minutes were taken to make sure proper greetings were done. (Is that efficient? Does it matter?)

While in our culture we may have little time for 'small talk,' still small talk may be a profound way of hearing and being heard by another person. I find that I may need to slow down a little bit and enjoy the "hello, how's it going, everything's okay, etc" a little bit more.