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  • Foto van schrijverBrigitte Opel

How do you deal with conflicts?

Recently, a young man from Vietnam asked me about my work: “What do you mean with cultural differences? What do people do differently?” I explained the differences in communication style, depending on your background. He still didn’t see what I meant, so I asked him: “If there’s a conflict, how do deal with that in your culture?” He responded: “Well, we socialize until the conflict goes away.”, looking at me as if I should know that. I wondered whether they would talk about the conflict while socializing. “Not really, you just socialize until the conflict goes away.”

A good example of implicit communication in a collectivist culture. 

When I explained to him that people in the Netherlands deal with conflict in a very different way, he was clearly surprised. Here, people explicitly explain their point of view, especially if there is a difference of opinion. It seems that everybody has the right to an opinion and will voice that in a lengthy verbal exchange. This is an example of explicit communication in an individualistic culture. 

That’s what I mean when I talk about cultural differences.

Photo: Start a journey in Vietnam (

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