Korean Language – Pieces of Cultural Intelligence

On number 19 out of 20 most spoken foreign languages according to Gaston Dorren’s book “Babel” we have


One Korean quote said: “Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.” And I think that’s beautiful. So, following that advice, why don’t you take a look at the following piece of cultural intelligence content I have crayoned here?


What words were exported from Korean to other nations?

2 familiar Korean words are KIMCHI (pickled vegetables) and the sport TAEKWONDO. Several well-known brand names are of Korean origin, including Samsung (which means 3 “stars” ), Hyundai (which means “modern”) and Daewoo (or TAEU which is translated as “great Woo”, Woo being the founder).

You may also download the file by pressing the button below

Cultural values of cultural clusters


A tiny bit of knowledge regarding cultural intelligence CQ was detailed in my previous post and you can have read here – What I learned this week.

Understanding, using and increasing our cultural intelligence improves the way we relate to and network with diverse others. As we see a lot of migration, a lot of change regarding where people move to study or work or live or retire, we learn a lot about the specific country and customs there, but not all the times, we look deep into the cultural values of that place.

I believe what you will read next will help you not only know more about yourself, but also help you in being more empathetic with different people and cultures and with respecting one’s point of view and perspective. While I was reading through the book of Gaston Dorren (who is a polyglot), who wrote “Babel, Around the world in 20 languages”, I was able to get more insight into the different cultures of the world, how those people of other countries than me think and how their culture reflects in the language itself and it really opened my eyes to how unique and beautiful people are but also how little we actually know about the world. Cultural Intelligence highlights the importance of understanding different perspectives and then appropriately and effectively adapt our behaviour to obtain success. As an expat myself it is very hard to accept specific norms of the country I am in, because of personal and cultural value I grew with. But what you are about to read below will give a context or a form for better classifying your values, others’s values and then correctly identify in a new person or group of people or even in an organization these values. And why is this crucial? Because we, as human beings enjoy to feel at home wherever we are, we need comfort and familiarity. When we know our own values, we can better cope ourselves with others and we can expand on our self-knowledge even further, we can understand ourselves better and then it will become so much easier to cooperate, collaborate and work on our desired achievements.

There are 10 cultural clusters – Nordic Europe, Anglo, Germanic Europe, Eastern Europe, Latin Europe, Latin America, Confucian Asia, Southern Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and Arab.

Over the decades a number of scholars and researchers identified cultural value dimensions and general geographical clusters for these cultural value dimensions. As a disclaimer there is a wide range of variation in cultural values that individuals in the same cultural cluster may actually express. This means an individual’s personal orientation may not reflect the generalised tendency of a specific geographical cultural cluster. At the same time, research does reveal that a large number of people within these geographic clusters do share similar values. So it can be a starting point to begin understanding the similarities and differences between your preferred values and the cultural values of others.

Cultural clusters provide possible insight into where we may likely find the presence of a cultural value dimension. We have the opportunity to use cultural intelligence to determine if diversity or differences in cultural values might explain a challenge, a misunderstanding, confusion or miscommunication. Using CQ provides an opportunity to recognize difference and diversify in order to adapt our behavior which facilitates effective and appropriate interaction across diversities.

Cultural intelligence or CQ is defined as the capability to be effective across different cultural context, including national, ethnic, generational, organizational and other contexts. The culturally intelligent have a good grasp of overarching patterns that exist across various cultures around the world. It’s not that the culturally intelligent are walking encyclopedias who can spout off random facts about any culture on the planet. That’s impossible. But they have a macro understanding of cultural similarities and differences, something we identify as CQ knowledge – one of the four capabilities of cultural intelligence. CQ knowledge is the degree to which you understand how culture influences how people think and behave; it’s also your level of familiarity with how cultures are similar and different.

One way to improve your CQ knowledge is to learn the key characteristics of 10 global cultural clusters, which are large cultural groupings that share some core patterns of thinking and behaving. The countries and groupings of people within each cluster typically share a common history and they often share similar geography, language, religion or cultural values. The 10 clusters are simply a place to begin comparing one predominant worldview with another. As you develop a deeper understanding of the clusters’ similarities and differences, you’ll find yourself more adept at handling all kinds of intercultural situations. Why talk about clusters, and overall patterns and norms for people from various cultures? Because there’s value in something that cross-cultural psychologists Joyce Osland and Allan Bird describe as “sophisticated stereotypes” – broad comparative differences based on empirical intercultural research. Sophisticated stereotypes such as those that stem from understanding the 10 cultural clusters, are most helpful when they are:

-used to compare various cultures rather than to understand the behavior of a singular culture

-consciously held

-descriptive not evaluative

-used as a best first-guess prior to having direct information about specific people

-modified based upon further observation and experience

The cultural value dimensions

Individualism – Collectivism

An individualist is motivated by personal rewards and benefits. Individualist persons set personal goals and objectives based on self. Individualistic workers are very comfortable working with autonomy and not part of the team.

The collectivist is motivated by group goals, Long term relationships are very important. Collectivistic persons easily sacrifice individual benefit or praise to recognize and honor the team’s success.

The generalized geographic clusters of individualism may be found in Anglo countries, Germanic Europe and Nordic Europe. Geographic clusters for collectivism are often located in Arab countries, Latin America, Confucian Asia, Southern Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Low and high-power distance – is a lot about authority and hierarchy.

A person with low power distance thinks the less formal the better. They prefer to forego formalities and are willing to respectfully question or challenge authority. Titles and positions of authority and leadership are not important to a low power distance person.

A high-power distance individual feels obligated to follow strictly the chain of command and is far less likely to question authority or leadership. Respecting and honoring the position of leadership is highly important in a high-power distance society.

An example is in Germanic Europe, a low power distance culture cluster, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her husband live in a very modest flat in Berlin. On the other hand, Southern Asia is a high power distance culture cluster. In Southern Asia using formal titles are very important and not to be ignored. High power distance mandates that people of higher status receive special seating at dinning or in a business meeting.

Low versus high uncertainty avoidance

The cultural value dimension of low or high uncertainty avoidance resides in the question of should we try to control the future or just let the future happen? How shall we deal with the future when the future can never be known for sure?

Low uncertainty avoidance persons act first and then get the information. They are very comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty. Cultural value clusters of low uncertainty avoidance work hard to minimize rules and laws that infringe on people’s diverse perspectives.

High uncertainty avoidance often requires rigid codes of behavior and beliefs. There may easily be intolerance of unorthodox behaviours and ideas. Persons with high uncertainty avoidance appreciate explicit instructions. They often rely on procedures and policies to reduce the change of things getting out of control.

Anglo countries, Eastern Europe and Nordic Europe have a preference for low uncertainty avoidance. Latin Europe and Latin America emphasize planning and predictability or high uncertainty avoidance.

Cooperative and competitive dimensions

A person with a cooperative cultural value emphasizes collaboration, nurturing and family.

A person who has a competitive value dimension emphasises competition, assertiveness and achievement.

The cooperative versus competition cultural value dimension considers how you wish to achieve results and accomplish goals. A cooperative person believes the best way to accomplish an objective or reach an outcome is by getting people to work together. However, a competitive person believes people are best motivated to reach a goal when competition is involved in the process.

If we consider geographic cultural dimensions, Nordic Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa prefer cooperation. Germanic Europe and Anglo countries emphasize a competitive cultural dimension. In the middle between cooperative and competitive, we find Arab countries, Confucian Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America, Latin Europe and Southern Asia.

Short versus long term

This cultural dimension is based on how a culture views time and the importance of the past, present and future. Short term is the cultural dimension which emphasizes immediate outcomes and success now. Long term planning and success later guide the long-term cultural dimension.

Confucian Asia is in the long-term geographic cluster. It is interesting that China is said to be planning for the next 500 years while other nations have a 5-year plan. Anglo-countries, Arab nations, Eastern Europe, Nordic Europe, and Sub-Saharan Africa are in the short-term geographic cluster. Eastern Europe, Latin America and Latin Europe use both a short-term and a long-term dimension.

When we use a long-term dimension, we focus on the future. We value persistence. We easily delay social success. Personal and emotional gratification is delayed.

A short-term orientation cares more about immediate gratification. The past and present is more important than the future. A short-term orientation values the current social hierarchy. Meeting current social obligations is emphasized by a person with a short-term perspective.

Low and high context

In a low context cultural dimension encounter, the emphasis is on explicit and direct communication. In a high context experience, the communication is indirect and the tone of voice and context of the communication is most important.

The individual with a low context orientation values direct communication. He or she choose their words very carefully. Logic is important.

A low context person believes in clearly saying what they mean and totally meaning what is said.

A high context and indirect person will pay attention to what is not said as much as what is said. A high context person will notice the context such as where people are seated and how individuals are dressed. A preference for high context means you need to constantly read between the lines. High context persons speak indirectly to peers and tend to avoid conflict that is head on.

Geographic clusters that prefer low context and direct communication are Anglo countries, Germanic Europe and Nordic Europe. Arab countries, Confucian Asia, Southern Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa emphasize a high context with an indirect communication cultural dimension.

Being versus doing

Being and doing is the extent to which you derive meaning from activity and being productive.

A high doing person wants to be productive on a day off or holiday. A doing culture emphasizes being busy and meeting goals. A being culture stresses the quality of life and work-life balance.

In a doing culture getting a job done takes precedence over personal relationships. You may miss a family member’s birthday celebration because you have work to do. You earn status through the work you do. Status is not based on your age, seniority or birthright. Deadlines and schedules are emphasized in a doing culture. Work-related emails are often answered 24h a days and 7 days a week if the person emphasizes doing over being.

In a being culture, status is automatic and difficult to lose. Status is often based on your age, birth and seniority. Relationships take precedence over tasks or getting a job done. Much time is spent getting to know someone before agreeing to do business with them. Greeting and farewell rituals are considered important. A work-related email is probably not going to be answered by a being orientated person if it is received during vacation.

Geographic clusters of doing cultural dimension are found in Anglo countries and Germanic Europe.

Being geographic clusters are located in Arab countries, Latin America, Nordic Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Universalism and particularism

The cultural dimension of universalism versus particularism is the same as rules versus relationships. Universalism is about the rules and standards. Particularism is about the unique specifics and relationships.

In a culture that prefers universalism, the rules and standards apply to everyone the same. In a culture that emphasizes particularism, there are unique standards and exceptions. Applications of the rules depend on the unique exceptions and the relationships of the persons involved.

A person with a universal perspective applies all procedures the same universally to ensure equity and consistency. A particular oriented person encourages flexibility by adapting to particular situations and making exceptions to the rule.

Rules and standards that apply equally to everyone are typical of Anglo countries, Germanic Europe and Nordic Europe. An emphasis on the specifics allowing room for unique adjustments to rules based on relationships is common in Arab countries, Confucian Asia, Southern Asia and Sub-Saharan Asia.

Non-expressive versus expressive

The communication cultural value that prefers to emphasize non-emotional communication and to hide feelings is the neutral or non-expressive cultural dimension. The affective or expressive cultural dimension prefers expressive communication and sharing feelings.

The geographic cultural value clusters for the neutral or non-expressive cultural value dimension are Confucian Asia, Eastern Europe, Germanic Europe and Nordic Europe. Anglo countries and Southern Asia emphasize both non-expressive and expressive cultural values. Arab countries, Latin America, Latin Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa prefer affective, expressive communications and sharing feelings.

Monochronic and polychronic dimensions

A monochronic persons sees time as a commodity. It is quantifiable and there is limited supply of it. You can waste time.

The polychronic individual considers time to be limitless and unmeasurable. Time is a servant and a tool we use.

Monochronic and linear cultural dimensions emphasize doing one thing at a time, always being on time, events are scheduled to start on time, and work time and personal time are separated. Anglo countries, Germanic Europe and Nordic Europe emphasize the monochronic and linear cultural values.

Confucian Asia, Eastern Europe and Southern Asia emphasize both a monochronic linear and a polychronic non-linear as cultural values.

Polychronic and non-linear cultural values emphasize multi-tasking, find interruptions very acceptable, and easily combine work with personal life. Arab countries, Latin America, Latin Europe and Sub-Saharan prefer the polychronic non-linear cultural value dimension.

Individuals have personal preferences or individual value orientations. Sometimes individual orientations reflect one’s nationality or ethnicity or diversity but not always. Cultural value orientations can be grouped into general geographical clusters. Knowledge of these cultural value dimensions and 10 of the largest cultural groupings can sometimes give us insight into potential cross-cultural misunderstandings and challenges.

The 10 largest cultural groupings in the world are:

ANGLO – Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States and etc

ARAB – Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and etc.

Confucian Asia – China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korean, Taiwan and etc

Eastern Europe – Albania, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Mongolia, Poland, Russia and etc

Germanic Europe – Austria, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, etc

Latin America – Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico and etc

Latin Europe – France, French-speaking Canada, Italy, Portugal, Spain and etc

Nordic Europe – Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and etc

Sub-Saharan Africa – Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, Zambia, Zimbabwe and etc

Southern-Asia – India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and etc

These are simply places where you are likely to find a significant presence of the cultural values and are not to be taken as stereotype, they are created and researched to help us all better understand each other as we live in this globalised world, where many different people from a variety of cultures come together in the big cities.

Have you been able to identify which of the 2 options from the 10 cultural value dimensions you personally and culturally are? Tell me in the comments!

What I have learned this week


I will market this as the curated source of latest fresh knowledge, motivation and inspiration and the delightful recycled source of creative content out there that I consumed for your enjoyment and usefulness.

Starting off with KNOWLEDGE TO BOOST YOUR BRAIN POWER: check this out – a new notion – cultural intelligence.

Cultural intelligence or CQ is defined as the capability to be effective across different cultural contexts – including national, ethnic, generational, organizational and others. The culturally intelligent have a good grasp of overarching patterns that exist across various cultures around the world. It’s not that the culturally intelligent are walking encyclopedias who can spout off random facts about any culture on the planet. That’s impossible. But they have a micro understanding of cultural similarities and differences, something which is identified as CQ Knowledge – one of the four capabilities of cultural intelligence. CQ Knowledge is the degree to which you understand how culture influences how people think and behave, it’s also your level of familiarity with how cultures are similar and different. While this kind of understanding alone doesn’t make you culturally intelligent, it is a vital part of becoming effective across different cultural contexts. I am still learning about this concept and expanding my vision on the topic also because working in a fraud detection department requires me to have this knowledge in prediction and understanding the potential threat. Why is this important to be know? The ability to understand different perspectives and then appropriately and effectively adapt our behaviour is now required for success. CQ is unique in that it predicts our capabilities to work with diversity and differences. Understanding, using and increasing our cultural intelligence improves the way we relate to and network with diverse others. There are 4 specific capabilities comprising CQ. The first is CQ drive or motivation, second CQ knowledge or cognition, next is CQ strategy or metacognition, and the last is CQ action or behaviour. Cultural intelligence can be developed and improved. In the next weeks I will be sharing more on this topic, it is a course I am taking on FutureLearn (something similar to Coursera) and I think it is an important subject given that CQ provides an opportunity to recognise or determine if diversity or differences in cultural values might explain a challenge, misunderstanding, confusion or miscommunication and these are needed to be tackled to effectively facilitate human interaction across diversities.

Linkedin Courses taken (2) – Leading like a futurist – I would not say that you necessarily need to be a leader or manager to profit from the concepts and ideas of this course, it is needed for all of us to reinvent our lives and understand the world we live in, from a different perspective. First the course explored what is a futurist. A futurist is a person that can see, shape and share the future. A futurist creates and communicates future opportunities. A futurist is not afraid to be a visionary. The skills needed by a futurist are that he/she is keen and curious observers, they seek diverse perspectives, they represent the finders of clarity in the complex, they are comfortable with ambiguity and they are compelling communicators. And all these skills are skills that the world we currently live in NEEDS MORE OF, and will be in much more need of because of the emerging trends and technologies. By learning more about what a futurist is and moreover about a futurist leader, you expose yourself to more opportunities, either because you can create them or you see them and can ride them. There were lots of amazing ideas in the course, and one of them was the concept of a future shaper. A future shaper has a mindset regarding the way we see or could see the future and a future shaper is able to notice more of what’s around in the world, is able to use everything at hand (knowledge, trend, etc) and is capable of letting go of being right and letting go of being the smartest in the room. These practices create a mindset of anticipation, evaluation of possible futures and analysis of their viability and sustainability, constant observation and scanning of the external environment. Mindset is at the heart. Mindset of individuals multiply to create a mindset of a community, and that community can inspire and connect with other communities, thus making possible the future one person thinks of or “dreams” of, to become if not a reality, then at least to bring more awareness of its potentiality. A futurist is able to communicate the future in a compelling, emotional way to motivate people into taking action with the vision stated. That’s why it’s a leader. A futurist leader or a future shaper is seeking to make us mindful of our capability to see, shape and share the future that we want to be part of. Once you gain that mindset, you become yourself a futurist or future shaper. Really great course, highly recommend it and to give you a glimpse of what the future holds for us in the next decade, I have selected some future trends, basically copy pasting what they wrote, because it is very WOW (that I discovered online on WGSN, which is a leading trend forecaster for insights and inspiration around the globe) for all of us to be waiting for:

“1.BORO – made, do and mend. – In an effort to be conscious consumers, we are shopping less and buying “better”. But what does this mean for the things we already own?This Japanese method “BORO” means born-out-of-necessity patchworking and will become the norm in the next decade. We will see a rise of making do and mending – it will be an honour to give attention to those items in need of repair. Well-loved but worn pieces will become a blank canvas for creativity, self-expression and playful mending techniques, with these new details as the main features of garments. On a side note, this does remind me of another interesting Japanese technique named “kintsukuroi” that means to repair with gold, which is the art of repairing pottery with gold or silver lacquer and understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken. And with these notions, there goes a little bit of CQ knowledge, Japanese are very careful and conscious and considerate about life and everything in life, it looks so.

2.NANOSWIMMERS – “Beauty bots” moving through your bloodstream. Taking “beauty from within” to the next level, tiny robots will be used to deliver ingredients, nutrients or medicines from inside the body. While the technology, which as been developed by the medical industry to avoid invasive procedures, is still in its infancy, the applications for beauty are promising. By the end of the decade, injectable “beauty bots” could well be on offer along with other non-invasive cosmetic treatments.

3. FROZEN FOOD – convenience food, but made wellness. Frozen food will experience a renaissance as consumers turn to it as a convenient way of eating that also reduces waste. Wellness – focused consumers have adopted frozen fruit and vegetables in smoothies as a convenient way of introducing micronutrients into their diets. They are now open to trying new, healthy frozen meals and ingredients. Frozen food start ups are providing plant-based or gourmet meals and ingredients to update convenience food. People will also start challenging consumerism and they will focus more on self-sufficiency as they explore how to survive during times of extreme disruption in a decade of environmental and societal turmoil.

4.INTIMACY SCHOOLS – How to be human 101 (actually in my country, Romania, there is one educational leader offering these type of classes related to relationships already) – The intimacy recession means we’re increasingly more connected to our phones than to each other. The 2020s will witness an active backlash to the loneliness epidemic being faced in many developed societies, driven by our smartphone addictions. Much like the rise of mindfulness as a trend, we will go to class to learn how to reconnect with other people, discover how to be vulnerable and build deeper bonds (romantic or platonic) with each other. School is now in session and it;s teaching you how to be human again.”

I have some honourable mentions which seem very far-fetched, but briefly as taken from their instagram account (WGSN)

“5.DIGITAL FRAGRANCES – Machines will learn how to smell – Downloading sounds was so 2010s – by 2030, it’ll be all about downloading smells. Thanks to advanced algorithm technologies, we can smell online.

6.MADE IN NATURE – trees grown directly into furniture. Packaging grown from mushroom. Forget “made in”, by 2025, products made “by” nature will be the new luxury.

7.PSYCHODERMATOLOGY – leveraging the gut-brain-skin connection. Stressed out? Your skin is feeling it too. Modern dermatology will step in to ease skin conditions related to modern day stresses, blurring the lines between our mental and skin health. Welcome to the age of psychodermatology, where it is about the emotional as much as the physical.

8.POWERING DOWN – Rest, recover and recalibrate. Guilty of spending too much time online? A new wave of technology is coming to help us turn off and recharge. Radiaton-blocking materials will help protect us from digital emissions, giving us time to recalibrate and reboot.

9.NIKSEN – doing nothing on purpose, but without purpose. Permission to do nothing: granted. In a world where burnout is so common it has become a classified medical condition, this wellness movement acknowledges that slowing down is essential. Block out your calendars to do nothing and feel good about it.”

Now, NIKSEN really ties beautifully to the other short course I took on Linkedin this week named “How to slow down and be more productive“. It was an eye opening packed with knowledge course that I related so much to and found profoundly life changing for me at least. Even though the concept of slow and the SLOW movement is something I was aware of for years now, I realised I was not practising it. Currently, you may feel as I feel too, that we are living in a state of impatience. I will re-write this. We are living in a state of IMPATIENCE. Not emergency, but impatience to do this and that, to be as fast as possible to go through workload, to schedule meeting after meeting, to be in a constant state of “working” and of ticking boxes when we have done certain tasks, forgetting about taking a moment, not a break, but a moment to give our brain breathing time to get prepared for the next task, meeting, deadline or activity. When we jump mindless to activity from another activity, without allowing ourselves time to digest what just happened we experience what the speaker of the course named to be “the missing minute”. The missing minute is required for us to recover the space between the things we do.

The course is opening our eyes and minds to re-program our brains to do things more patiently – don’t work too quickly, take the extra time – add a touch of more patience to it and take the time to cool down. THE MORE IMPORTANT THE WORK IS, THE MORE COOL DOWN TIME WE NEED TO HAVE. Take a minute and reclaim the missing minute by making a careful choice without feeling pressured by others to make a decision, to finish a specific task, to do an activity, to do your job. The course is focusing on raising awareness around separating what is happening from what is required for our success. Slowing down is about finding that reasonable expectation that others have of you to finish the job and then stick to it. This means you can work comfortably in your own pace and you can do the job between the requests and expectations decided together with the other person you are working with. For this to actually work, you also need to show others that they may be rushing mindlessly too, without knowing, yet.

To cultivate awareness of the moments when you are rushed, you can ask your superior or leader or yourself “How long can you comfortably wait until I respond? When is the latest this can be done? Do you need the whole project or a part of it by that date?” This gives the other person thinking time to help them pause as well and become more present and more capable of making decisions about deadlines. Careful questions can lead to constructive conversations.

Reclaim your missing minute and start by taking 1 minute now without doing anything. No scrolling, no browsing, no reading, no replying, no copy pasting. Just put the timer on your phone for 1 minute and stand still. I have done this and that 60 seconds seemed like an eternity. Amazing insight from that alone only! And, in this way you can understand why the NIKSEN prediction will occur. There’s a need and a market.

Quote of the week – Outgrow the person you were yesterday.

Fun thing of the week – I discovered tiktok (well, just downloaded the app to see what’s all about and why GaryV says it’s the next big thing- and IT’S FUN) and on the platform I discovered this new word that millennials use which is “boomer” – which is actually the short for “baby boomer” by which this new generation refers us for, because “we do not understand them and criticise them way too much”(especially regarding the use of their mobiles). And the meme is “OK boomer”.

So, “boomer” what will you be taking away with you from this blog post? What have you learned from what I have learned?