Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login

First, try describing what course of study would prepare one for "How to deal with Americans." Does that sound a little funny to you? Because it should. What would it cover, business etiquette among self-employed American software entrepreneurs or the appropriate preservation of Eucharistic host? If you had the second class but not the first, how would you bootstrap from the second class to cover how to speak to a black female Texan at a business luncheon?

I can talk to you in quite a bit of depth about discrimination against Koreans in post-war Japan, the Toyota production system, and the civil service examination system in pre-modern China. You know the sum total of my book learning about Vietnam? A close reading of my textbooks suggests there may have been a war, possibly involving white people.

  Does that sound a little funny to you?
No, it doesn't. Large companies that deal a lot with foreign countries tend to employ people whose sole purpose it is to train new employees, who have to deal with those foreign countries, in cultural differences. For instance, a German company that exports to the rest of Europe would employ someone knowledgeable on French, Spanish, Italian, etc. business etiquette. Perhaps, for the US, they would distinguish between California-style, MidWest-style and NY-style; I don't know. I only know that there are people whose bread and butter is to teach others about these differences.

What kind of study prepares you for that? It's closest to cultural anthropology. I would expect it to come easy to sociologists and psychologists with interests in the matter.

Even between The Netherlands and Belgium, there are subtle differences that can be the difference between a deal and a failure. Learn those in a few one hour seminars and the mutual understanding and relationships get easier, or at least not unnecessarily complicated by misunderstandings that can be avoided. On the contrary, within a much larger country like France, even though there are differences and dislikes, especially between north and south, people tend to understand each other better. In Europe, these differences follow borders pretty well.

  how to speak to a black female Texan at a business luncheon?
You can't be prepared for every individual's idiosynchrasies. You can be prepared for what most people that share a similar cultural background expect, even if they aren't aware of it.

Applications are open for YC Summer 2018

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact