During our Cultural Awareness Training, we focus on Where Culture Is.

In other words, can we isolate culture and distinguish it from Personality and what is Common to All ManKind?

The answer is yes.

Culture has a place amongst the other two (Personality and What is Common to All ManKind). To make it a bit clearer, let’s put it in a picture (see below):

The Place of CultureThe Individual

At the very top, you see the Individual.

First and foremost, people from all cultures should be acknowledged for their personalities. Not for their cultural background or “Cultural Programming“. The Individual has his or her personality first and second this same person has a culture of his or her own.

Common to all Mankind

This one is at the very bottom of the picture. There are things we all do. Irrespective of our cultural background. Examples are eating, drinking, sleeping, etc. These are pretty much identical to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. But there are plenty more: we all engage in relationships, be it friendly or more intimate; we all aspire to a purpose in life; we all have some sort of favorite time-pass (movies, music, or whatever). However, how we practice all of the above depends greatly on our cultural background.

The same holds true for Organizations. All organizations (worldwide) have the following 4 things in common:

  1. Hierarchy or Leadership (or none hierarchy)
  2. Structures and procedures
  3. Objectives or Goals
  4. Resources (like “stuff” and or money)

But how do these four points pan out in different countries, depending on the country, and hence on the culture?

All these above-mentioned Generalities get their specifics in the middle layer, the collectivity by the group (not to be confused with Collectivism!) called Culture.


A typical example is food and eating. Take the Dutch. What is a typical Dutch lunch? The general answer to this question is: “A cheese sandwich and a glass of Milk“. Now take the French. What does a typical business lunch look like in Paris? The typical answer is: “It takes at least 1 1/2 hours; has a three-course meal; and there are two bottles of wine, one red and one white“.

Is this always the case in Paris? No, of course not. The same holds true for the Dutch. But we’re describing general trends in society here.

First Level

On the surface, it is quite easy to see what the differences are, and most Dutch and French will confirm that the above-mentioned examples describe the average (daily) situation. But there is more…

Second Level

If you ask the Dutch “Why” they eat this simple sandwich lunch (don’t forget the Milk!), the general answer is that it is Efficient and quick. Even almost biological: if you don’t eat, you’ll get hungry. So better eat. Even if it is something simple.

If you ask the French “Why” they indulge (?) in long lunches with wine and a hot meal, the answer is that it is a moment to relax, and build relationships. But also to do the actual business to be conducted.


We can see in this example that there are two levels of Cultural Differences. One at the observable, visible level, but, maybe more critical, at a deeper, motivational level too.

Not only do we eat different things in different cultures, but also the deeper motivation for why we eat differently is culturally driven.

An article about culture and personality can be found here.

Read this article to get a good definition of what culture is.

What are your examples? Please share them by describing them here below.


Get a Taste of How Chris Presents, Watch his TEDx Talk



8 + 2 =

call culture mattersCall Direct: +32476524957


whatsapp culture matters directlyEuropean Office (Paris) Whatsapp: +32476524957


The Americas (USA; Atlanta, GA; también en Español):  +1 678 301 8369

Book Chris Smit as a Speaker

If you're looking for an Engaging, Exciting, and Interactive speaker on the subject of Intercultural Management & Awareness you came to the right place.

Chris has spoken at hundreds of events and to thousands of people on the subject of Cultural Diversity & Cultural Competence.

This is What Others Say About Chris:

  • “Very Interactive and Engaging”
  • “In little time he knew how to get the audience inspired and connected to his story”
  • His ability to make large groups of participants quickly and adequately aware of the huge impact of cultural differences is excellent”
  • Chris is a dedicated and inspirational professional”

In addition, his presentations can cover specific topics cultural topics, or generally on Cultural differences.

Presentations can vary anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours and are given World Wide.

Book Chris now by simply sending an email. Click here to do so.

Read more about what Chris can do for you.

  • Percentage of People Rating a Presentation as Excellent 86% 86%
  • Rating the Presentation as Practical 89% 89%
  • Applicability of Chris' presentation 90% 90%

About Peter van der Lende

Peter van der Lende International business development

Peter has joined forces with Culture Matters.

Because he has years and years of international business development experience joining forces therefore only seemed logical.

Being born and raised in the Netherlands, he has lived in more than 9 countries of which most were in Latin America.

He currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia (USA) with his family.

You can find out more at https://expand360.com/

Or find out what Peter can do for you here.

Chris Smit
Latest posts by Chris Smit (see all)
We're looking for new Podcast Guests!

We're looking for new Podcast Guests!

If you think you or someone you know would make a good guest for our Culture Matters on International Business, drop us an email.

(make sure you or the person you know will be able to talk about International affairs!)

Thanks, we'll be back to you soon!