Intercultural Stereotyping: We Are All Guilty Of It!

by Ange Teo - Date: 2006-12-22 - Word Count: 310 Share This!

Defined as "beliefs about the characteristics, attributes, and behaviours of members of certain groups", stereotyping is a process that we engage in at one time or other towards a group of people who do not conform to our way of life. We hold their "weird" practices and wholly different ideals, for instance, as reasons to justify our ugly and intolerant attitudes.

There are some people who stereotype a person by virtue of his physical attributes, or dress sense. And then proceed to over-generalize the entire community that said person belongs to - which is often negative to say the least.

Regardless, such behaviour - if left unchecked - inevitably becomes prejudice; and subsequently selective discrimination and xenophobia. Not only productivity and work relations in the workplace are adversely affected, but so is the organization's reputation and credibility. Furthermore, its Competitive Advantage and Market Leadership are harmed as well.

Thus, as a Culturally Intelligent individual, we are able to adapt ourselves to a completely new cultural work environment and ethics quickly and easily. We also become tolerant of people who never, or refuse to adjust themselves accordingly. In other words, Culture Shock is not an issue that we have to cope with; as no effort is spared to facilitate a smooth transition to our new environment.

We do not expect people with prejudicial mindsets to reciprocate our actions. But we are clearly at an advantage as - besides learning each new experience encountered - we embrace it readily. That makes us the more flexible in our future dealings with more varied groups of people, as globalisation is here to stay.

Thus, it is crucial that we check ourselves when we are caught in situations that lead us to stereotype new people we meet - due to first impressions. It is inevitable, but keep in mind that we are in turn "tarred with the same brush" by these same people, if not broadly.

Related Tags: stereotyping, perceptions, counteract stereotyping, cross-cultural awareness, prejudicial behavior

Multi-ethnic and polyglot Ange Teo is the Founder-Managing Director of e2m expat etiquette mentoring, a Singapore-based Cross-Cultural Communications Solutions Provider.

Having worked with some of the world's leading Multinational Companies and Singapore-based Small Medium Enterprises for over 20 years; Ange Teo specialises in the areas of Information Technology, Secretarial/Administration, and Human Resources specifically Executive Search / Headhunting.

For more information about e2m Cultural Intelligence [CQ]-focused Communications Solutions, please visit

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