Here in northern Germany today, we asked our client group what constituted “good service” at a restaurant. (The idea was to begin exploring the idea of how to conceive of a competency.) Among the answers one person responded “Being polite.” “What does that mean?”, I ask, knowing that politeness is culturally specific. The answer I received? “Being serious.” Of course, from another culture’s perspective “serious” can mean unattached, disinterested, lacking humor, lacking personality, feeling upset, and so on.
On the second occasion, we were speaking about what constitutes a leader who is an exceptional collaborator. Among the answers is again….Politeness.
I love these anecdotes that provide windows into culture.