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What You Think is Right, May Only Be Cultural

October 3, 2010

By Gail Hahn

It was on the Ivory Coast of Africa while facilitating teambuilding and communication style workshops with members from 34 different African nations who all worked for the same international organization. Bringing some assemblance of order, cultural understanding, corporate culture adherence and just plain getting your point across was no small feat.

The main point was that what we think of as ‘right’ may only be cultural. It is our belief, our values, the way we think and behave based upon what we learned from our parents, society, supervisors and general socialization. We can take this further in business and in life by saying what we think of as the right thing to do may be based upon regional, national, familial, political, gender specific, religious or corporate cultural norms.

We can take this to personal relationships and how we run our families and households to how we celebrate traditions or how we offer ourselves to the world. We see this play out in corporate culture not only among different nationalities, but in every single individual and what ideologies and work ethics they bring to the workplace. The clash between Baby Boomers, Traditionalists and the New Generation X and Y’s is a classic example of who holds what important and how they get things done.

Blending your personal cultural values with your corporate culture or even if it’s your personal corporation for entrepreneurs can be a tricky minefield. When you catch yourself saying ‘they should’ or ‘he shouldn’t’ or ‘that’s a stupid rule’, you may need to take a fresh perspective on the situation. Whenever you hear the words ‘should’ come out of your mouth, it’s a red flag that you’re in somebody else’s business or placing your way of ‘right’ onto somebody or something else.

Managing the ‘rightness’ of how things are done in your partnership, in your work, with your coach, in your family or in moving through the world takes awareness that your ‘right’ may not be somebody else’s ‘right’.  Seeing the world through a different pair of eyes gives us a new perspective. Even is that someone else is a new and improved you.

After working with coaches, I am continually gaining new insight and new perspective on how I do my life and my work. I find where I once saw the ‘right’ line, is now a more flexible noodle of a line. It’s softer, more flexible, more gray and moveable. I find myself saying ‘isn’t that an interesting way to look at things’ much more often. Who is coaching you to take a look at what’s right or what doesn’t work in your life and in your business? Is your ‘right line’ bold, straight and immoveable or does it have some play or is it open for discussion?

I invite you to be more open and aware of different ‘rights’ that pop into your life and take a gander, then ask yourself ‘who says it’s right?’.

About Gail Hahn:  Gail Hahn, MA, CSP, CEO (Chief Energizing Officer) of Funcilitators is an International Keynote Speaker, Author, Corporate Trainer, Coach, Talk Show Host of The Energized Entrepreneur Show, Executive with BizBuilderCards and Energy Expert inspiring organizations to optimize their motivation, morale and meaning at work, and educating entrepreneurs and executives to revitalize their work, workforce, wealth and well-being.  Claim your free 50-page e-book on Energizing at her blog:

One Comment leave one →
  1. October 5, 2010 11:48 pm

    What an interesting way to look at whats right. This is definitely something a lot of people including myself meed to work on.

    Plus I never liked the word should, whether it’s pointed to someone else or myself.

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