Cross Cultural Solutions: N=No Judgment

Discover More Cross Cultural Solutions From Expert Yael Zofi

Virtual team managers need cross cultural solutions to effectively communicate across cultures.  They must LEARN proper cross cultural etiquette and manners to avoid miscommunication or possibly offending a virtual team member.  To complete the acronym, the focus of this week’s blog post is about cross cultural solution #5, the N of L E A R N.



It is important to show respect to the person with whom you are interacting and to convey that you consider him or her an equal.  Remember to be aware of terms people use to explain themselves and the world around them.  Avoid jumping to conclusions.  Don’t assume that what you understood to be true is universally correct.


Respond in ways that are descriptive and non-evaluative.  Avoid making judgmental comments based on your culture that lead to wrong conclusions.  Avoid leaping to conclusions before considering several alternative possibilities.

Respecting others means suspending judgment to avoid letting your personal biases make you misunderstand or misconstrue an interaction with a cross cultural colleague or client.  To avoid this from happening to you, try this simple technique:

Instead of jumping to conclusions consider that your cultural lens may distort someone’s worldview. Consider several alternative possibilities and use this three-part evaluation approach:

  1. Describe – “Nat joins the call late every Monday.”
  2. Interpret – “Nat doesn’t care about the job.”
  3. Evaluate – “I’ll give Nat the less desirable projects.”

Now think about the three-step evaluation approach with one additional step:

  1. Describe – “Nat joins the call late every Monday.”

Before you make any assumptions, consider several reasons for his behavior.  For example:

  • He has familial obligations every Monday morning.
  • His start-of-week meeting with his boss always runs late because his boss wants to discuss a report that never arrives on time, thereby putting him behind schedule.
  • He oversleeps after the weekend.
  • He doesn’t care about the job.


Once you’ve formulated several hypotheses for Nat’s behavior, you are ready to make your interpretation:

  1. Interpret – “Nat’s tardiness could be due to a factor which may be out of his control.”
  2. Evaluate – “I will talk to Nat about his tardiness and learn more about why it’s happening.”


This ‘consider several options’ step is the one that many people skip, leading them to erroneous, and often biased, conclusions.


We hope that these cross cultural solutions provided to you in the LEARN acronym will help you to effectively communicate across cultures.  Please check back for more cross cultural solutions in the coming weeks.

Posted in Intercultural Business Communication