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What is Culture Shock?

עודכן: 27 במרץ 2022

Culture shock is a sense of anxiety, depression and confusion. It is also the feeling of disorientation experienced by someone when they are suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture and way of life, being cut off from your familiar culture, environment, and norms when doing business (or living) in a foreign country or society.

Experiencing culture shock can lead to symptoms such as euphoria, discomfort, adjustment, acceptance, frustration, loneliness, and homesickness.

It can be caused by a range of things, both big and small, such as:

  • Someone finds himself in a place where the word YES means NO

  • Laughter means anger

  • Prices in a signed agreement are negotiable

  • Keeping you to wait outside the office is not for harm

  • And more...

In fact, where "psychological clues", that help one to function in society suddenly change and are replaced by clues that are obscure and foreign to the individual.

The culture shock’s effect varies from person to person. The emotional stress they experience can easily lead to intellectual retreat, and as a result this person can unintentionally lead to the company's bad reputation thus even losing a deal.

Culture Characteristics

Understanding the effects of cultural characteristics is crucial on business processes, for example:

  • In scheduling a business meeting, meeting preparation

  • Contract structure; bringing a lawyer?, understanding the negotiation and transition processes from one stage to another

  • Tracking verbal, non-verbal communication patterns; movement; written and body language

  • Dress code and code of conduct in public

  • Giving gifts; lucky numbers and colors.

Acquiring and assimilating of intercultural communication skills / "Soft Skills" can minimize the cultural barriers and assist company's penetration into the potential market, in a relatively smooth and successful.

How to Deal with Culture Shock?

Like it or not, culture shock is an intrinsic part of doing business abroad or living abroad, especially to someone (mostly) who moves from western societies to Eastern ones. So it’s best to acknowledge the inevitability of it and prepare yourself to adapt as quickly as possible.

Here are some ways you can best deal with culture shock:

  • Prepare your homework, learn from colleagues who already visitied the country, ask open questions

  • Keep an open mind

  • Explore culture, manners, ethics

  • Remind youself that you are in a new country / society for example: remind youself to move your wristwatch from left hand to right hand. Stick "Post-it" on your laptop's screen with a written remark

  • Participate in cross cultural workshop / lectures


The cross-cultural barrier is intensified in the new normal age of Covid-19, less overseas travel, more Zoom, Webex, Times and Google Meet sessions. The transition from three to two dimensions requires us to be more creative, respect participant time, lead and solve problems.

RGBtotal Strategy has vast experience (practical and academic) in conducting intercultural communication lectures, workshops and 101 mentoring sessions, cross-cultural communication, intercultural negotiations and GTM strategy to accelerator, startups and international companies overseas and Israel.

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