miércoles, 18 de marzo de 2015

How Different Cultures Understand Time

"Better three hours too soon than a minute too late"

William Shakespeare

How Different Cultures Understand Time

Time is seen in a particularly different light by Eastern and Western cultures, and even within these groupings assumes quite dissimilar aspects from country to country. In the Western Hemisphere, the United States and Mexico employ time in such diametrically opposing manners that it causes intense friction between the two peoples. Being late for an appointment, or taking a long time to get down to business, is the accepted norm in most Mediterranean and Arab countries, as well as in much of less-developed Asia. Such habits, though, would be anathema in punctuality-conscious USA, Japan, England, Switzerland, etc. In the Japanese train system, for example, “on time” refers to expected delays of less than one minute, while in many other countries, up to fifteen minutes leeway is still considered “on-time”. For that reason, a world traveler who speaks ten languages, British linguist Richard Lewis, decided he was qualified to plot the world's cultures on a chart. He did so while acknowledging the dangers of stereotypes. "Determining national characteristics is treading a minefield of inaccurate assessment and surprising exception," Lewis wrote. "There is, however, such a thing as a national norm." Many people think he nailed it, as his book "When Cultures Collide," now in its third edition, has sold more than one million copies since it was first published in 1996 and was called "an authoritative roadmap to navigating the world's economy," by the Wall Street Journal. 

Lewis plots countries in relation to three categories: 

Linear-actives — those who plan, schedule, organize, pursue action chains, do one thing at a time. Germans and Swiss are in this group. 
Multi-actives — those lively, loquacious peoples who do many things at once, planning their priorities not according to a time schedule, but according to the relative thrill or importance that each appointment brings with it. Italians, Latin Americans and Arabs are members of this group.
Reactives — those cultures that prioritize courtesy and respect, listening quietly and calmly to their interlocutors and reacting carefully to the other side's proposals. Chinese, Japanese and Finns are in this group. 

Here's the chart that explains the world: 

Some more details on the categories: 

Adapted from:

Do you have some extra time? ;) 
Calculate duration between two dates! This service calculates the duration, counting the day count and the number of days, months and years between two dates. Among other things, it can be used find how many days old you are and the weekday you were born… Would you give it a try? It could be useful! ;) 

Adapted from: 

 Share your ideas in the forum: “Cultures & Time” 
1. Look up the highlighted words if you need it (use a dictionary to help you!) 
2. What do you think? Did you enjoy the article?
3. Do you agree with the article? Why? Why not?
4. Would you consider yourself as a linear-active, multi-active or reactive person? Why.

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