Tag Archives: cultural differences

The art of gifts and presents

Most people have got positive feelings by gifts and presents. In my case it makes me nervous.

The word gift, tells me that it’s about a thing you give without expecting something in return.
How the word ‘present’ actually is related to the gift is not really stated. My guess is that it has to do with the French word for ‘presence’ which means that you’re on that spot/that you’re there and to prove it ,you give something.

In a multi cultural live I find any occasion which involves presents/gifts very uncomfortable.
?What occasions are appropriate to give presents of gifts?

?How much do you (want to) spend on a present? Based on how close you are? based on financial situation? based on what you got before? 
?What’s the local custom? 

?Do you embarass somebody with a too small/big or too cheap/expensive present? 

?What can you give to who? Can a man give a present to a woman or visa versa?

?Do you give everybody the same value?
?Do you give something you think the other would appreciate?

?Do you give something you like and show something of your identity?
?Do you open presents or not?

?How much effort is the actual presentation/packing?

To be honest, I still don’t know, how to act cultural intelligent in these situations.

I can’t say to my 4 children that they can’t accept all the birthday party invitations because off the expenses of the presents? Can I? Or embarrass the birthday boy or -girl with a cheap present because I rather spend my money on a family diner in a nice restaurant?
What do I give my host? bring in a dish/a bottle of wine? (which might be insulting as if you expect there won’t be enough). Chocolates (was she not on a diet?) or again flowers, a bouquet or a roomfilling arrangement? Should I decorate my gift or not?

The best thing to do is ask arround what others do in those situations. But still……

Me as a receiver, I feel very uncomfortable receiving overpriced presents, which I can’t and won’t return.
On the other hand it also makes me Feel Good that I mean so much to somebody else.
I, also do love to give presents from which I’m sure it would make the other happy, even if they’re expensive. A GIFT, but that’s from the heart.
Actually this tells a lot about me; for me PRESENTS are a kind of trade. A trade of a good feeling/gratitude/happiness or a return present.
 That’s probably also the reason that I like to see when somebody is unwrapping my present. And exactly the reason why I very much understand people who rather don’t unwrap untill they’re alone in case they’re dissapointed.

This is my love and hate story with presents and gifts.
I’m very interested in other -juicy- stories and experiences from all over the world.IFGAblogperson


Culture differences and greetings

There are visible and non visible culture differences; The visible culture differences are how people live (apartments, high-rise, huts, villas, terraced houses? in cities or villages), how they dress (warm, cold, covering, showing); What/who they love and celebrate (the heroes, the festivals, the food, the music, the books) and how they behave (greetings, managing time and the people around). 
Most of this differences you can get used to, in time, because it’s mostly behaviour; it’s about the way people show their culture and use their environment. 
You might prefer another behaviour but you will get used to it.

At the moment I live in Qatar, a small desert nation. The boys learn to ride a car in the desert. They can drive a car alright, but driving in traffic is something completely different. I would prefer if they would stick to traffic rules it would make my life much less dangerous but I got used to it and on the other side….. Not all the rules are very convenient at times and I must say I like those wild desert rides too.

A very important aspect of the visible culture differences is behaviour; the way people react on certain situations. 
A reaction is often based on believes, it’s about expectations, it’s about assumptions, it’s about values, it’s about thoughts, it’s about feelings and emotions. And those are not visible but very important for behaviour, certainly in relation to cultures and it’s differences and how people deal with them.
People want to know (conscious and unconscious) what the right way is to react according to the judgement of the social group they (want to) belong to, so they don’t become an ‘outlaw’ or be alone. 
It can be quite scary and uncomfortable when you don’t know how to react in certain situations.

I do live a very international live and I’ve got friends from all over the world and every time I meet some of them I have to think. “Just shaking hands? hug? 1,2 or 3 kisses? on the cheek? (one cheek or two, where do you start your first kiss???) bow? or just a shoulder pat?

Knowing about these different ways of greetings helps to understand and accept how people say hello.

When my old Japanese neighbour bows deep, it’s for her to show her respect, she doesn’t want to be cold or distant while I rather want to hug her after 3 years but that would be very uncomfortable for her. 

It helps a lot to know that I felt obstructed while her attentions would be that I feel respected. I can accept her ways and adapt mine, so we both feel good.

And in the end when I leave she will still got that hug, just because I know she can handle our differences too.IFGAblogperson