Monday, February 16, 2015

Peaches and coconuts

"I thought that after this type of connection, we would be friends for a very long time. When the airplane landed, imagine my surprise when, as I reached for a piece of paper in order to write down my phone number, my new friend stood up and with a friendly wave of his hand said, "Nice to meet you! Have a great trip!" And that was it. I never saw him again. I felt he had purposely tricked me into opening up when he had no intention of following through on the relationship he had instigated."
The difference between American and Russian cultures here can be described as peach and coconut models of personal interaction.
In peach cultures like those in the United States or Brazil, to name a couple, people tend to be friendly ("soft") with others they have just met. They smile frequently at strangers, move quickly to first-name usage, share information about themselves, and ask personal questions of those they hardly know. But after a little friendly interaction with a peach person, you may suddenly get to the hardshell of the pit where the peach protects his real self. In these cultures, friendliness does not equal friendship.
In coconut cultures such as France, Germany, or Russia, people are more closed (like the tough shell of a coconut) with those they don't have friendships with. They rarely smile at strangers, ask casual acquaintances personal questions, or offer personal information to those they don't know intimately. It takes a while to get through the initial hard shell, but as you do, people will become gradually warmer and friendlier. While relationships are built up slowly, they tend to last longer.

No comments:

Post a Comment