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Being Persuasive Across Cultural Divides

The factors that most persuade Citibank employees to voluntarily comply with a request for help from a colleague across cultures:

The study found that in westernized cultures that included the US, Canada and the United Kingdom, Citibank employees tended to take an individual market-based approach when deciding whether to help out a colleague. In essence when deciding whether they should help they would first ask themselves, "What has this person done for me recently?" They felt most obligated to comply if that colleague had done something for them first.

However, in certain Asian cultures including China and Korea, the Citibank employees adopted a more collective family-based approach. Consequently it wasn't necessarily the request itself that that influenced their willingness to comply but more whom the requester was connected to. When deciding whether to help they would ask "Is this person connected to someone in my group or department, especially someone of a high rank?" If the answer was yes, they felt more obligated to comply with the request.

The Citibank study also found that in Mediterranean and South American cultures requests for help were more likely to be successful if the person making the request was connected to the requestee's network of friends. In the German, Austrian and Scandinavian branches requests were most successful when the person showed how compliance to their request was consistent with the organisation's official rules and policies.

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