Culture & Conflict . . . Finding Common Ground

Values are the core of one’s culture, thus influence the way in which we see our world. We may experience conflict with our colleagues, clients, families and friends when our world view does not match their worldview. One may see it from a collectivistic stance which values the group more than an individual person, while individualitistic values the individual more than the group. Here’s an example. Let’s say you are a “to be early is to be on time” person and your colleague is a “here and now” person. You scheduled a meeting for 4:00 p.m. planning to be done at 5:00 p.m. Your colleague does not arrive until 4:20 p.m.. You are upset & look her in the eye asking “what happened this time.” She looks away, apologizes, but says she just couldn’t leave her patients. They needed her attention. We have conflict . . . so how do we resolve this dilemma. Let’s look at all the factors that influence outcomes.


  • Self reliant
  • Future time orientation
  • Directness valued
  • View of conflict ~ healthy & normal


  • Harmony
  • Present time orientation
  • Indirectness valued
  • View of conflict ~ promote avoidance

Conflict  . . .

  • Perceived need
  • Defined problem
  • Viewed differently
  • Expectation of appropriate behavior

Approaches to conflict resolution . . . pick one

  • Acknowledge ~ confront and resolve face to face (Anglo & African American)
  • Personalismo/Simpatico ~ avoid conflict & promote smooth relationship (Mexican)
  • Save Face ~ avoid conflict so as to maintain self respect & group harmony (Filipino, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese)

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