What can be done when asked to “speak out and state your opinions” in a meeting and/or “advocate your point of view”… if you feel this runs against your culture?

Often a visiting North American manager from corporate will try to “export” their behaviour to  to other parts of world and impose their cultural preference. This may include asking you to go against the opinions of your boss publically or asking you to advocate a controverisal view that you hold in a large meeting.

If you come from a part of the world where you need to show full respect to your boss in public, and you prefer keeping your views to yourself, you may try the following 3 tips.

1) Review meeting agendas in advance and prepare yourself. Sometimes, if given the time, it may be possible to work around the need to be so direct and confrontational.

2) Using an expat stationed in your country, inform the visiting boss what is acceptable and not acceptable, in order to prevent the visiting boss from making the wrong judgement.

3) Ask for a personal meeting with the visiting boss after the meeting and give him the input he desires.

And remember: even though some visitors may try very hard to be “inclusive”, it is often just lip service. The visiting manager often expects you to change your habits and modify your culturally based behaviour; he does not see this expectation as offensive.

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