When it comes to cross-cultural issues, I would agree that understanding is important. But, acceptance is more important even than understanding.
I live in a world where the cultures that I am surrounded by simply do not meet many of my expectations of what I think is right, acceptable, efficient, etc. And although, intellectually, I understand most of the reasons behind why people do the things that they do, that does not affect my state of mind if I cannot accept them.
This blog post is inspired by my previous article on Stoicism. And this specifically relates to the ability to handle and deal with things that you cannot control. It is, to say the least, unlikely, that I can change an entire culture on my own just because it doesn’t meet my standards of what is right and acceptable. But if I’m going to live in the midst of these cultures, then what I must do, is accept that it is the way it is.
As I’ve said in the last post, very often many issues are at least partially within your control. It is possible, in some instances, to try to affect what is going on in your immediate vicinity. And there’s nothing wrong with attempting to do exactly that to the best of your ability. But once you have done the best that you can do, it does one no good whatsoever to continue to get upset about the original issue. After all, the one thing that should be completely within your control is how you react to situations.
I write this article in many ways from the perspective of a pot calling the kettle black. Just by writing about it, I realize how far I have to go to improve the way that I accept situations.
By acceptance I don’t mean that you should just lie back and “think of England” while a situation is affecting you badly. In particular, I am thinking about a construction project in Asia that is ongoing right as we speak. We are encountering the usual gamut of issues with the contractor and the local labor force. And absolutely, one does the best that one can to make sure that they are doing a quality job and attempting (at least) to bring it in somewhat on schedule. However, there are times when this simply doesn’t happen no matter what you do. Of course, what you have done will usually improve the situation so it’s not as bad as it would be had you done nothing. But again, having done the best that you can do to alleviate the issues, at that point, acceptance becomes paramount.
Because I strongly believe that being calm and not letting your emotions run away with you is a globally beneficial thing. It certainly helps oneself, peace of mind, blood pressure, stress levels, etc. But in addition, it also helps the people around you. Being around calm people who are reasonable and don’t let themselves get carried away by emotion has been, in my experience, a very good thing.
So, to the best of ,my ability, I want to be one those people. Calm, accepting, and a rock in tight situations. I'll have to see how that goes 😉