I’ve been fascinated by other cultures ever since reading National Geographic as a kid. Marriage ceremonies, child-raising, education, attitudes toward the elderly—I took it all in eagerly. And, as I’ve mentioned before, observing how other people do things is great training for a writer. Writers spend their lives on the look-out for the interesting, the odd, and the compelling. If nothing else, we have unusual information to share when things get slow at a cocktail party.
Today, being in a bit of a holiday mood—I celebrate my birthday throughout August—I’ve let Melissa Lamson do the heavy lifting on this post. Melissa specializes in “cultural transformation,” helping Fortune 500 companies, government, and non-profits become more culturally agile. Periodically, her home page features a little gem about a different culture. A few months ago, she reported on (and I passed along) the practice in Eastern Europe of holding weddings in gas stations.
Recently, her site notes that research shows Indians are polychromic. That’s a fancy way of saying that they tend to require multiple stimuli to function optimally. Workplaces in India have been known to play loud music to encourage employees to deliver their best performance. In monochromic cultures, by contrast, multiple stimuli are considered disturbing and background music doesn’t have the same positive effect.
This resonates with me. I have never been able to study (or write) with music in the background, and I was always the crank who asked people to shut up in the library.
What level or type of stimuli makes you more productive?
Originally published on 8/9/11
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