I am from northeast Ohio. I have a blue-collar work ethic. I value logic, order, punctuality, time and getting things done. I am task-oriented. I make to-do lists and enjoy checking the boxes when the tasks are complete. If your familiar with Tom Rath’s book Strength Finder my #1 strength is Achieving (i.e. I like to git-r-done!) Apparently none of these qualities are valued in Africa.
Africa, I am learning, is known to have a Hot-Climate Culture. America, for the most part especially the North, has a Cold-Climate Culture. Hot-climate cultures value relationships. Cold-climate cultures value efficiency.
A person from a cold-climate culture will get to the point. If they call a meeting it will begin promptly at the advertised time or preferably a minute or two before if everyone is present. They would not dare waste time by being unorganized so they have an agenda and stick to it. Time is valued above relationships. They use phrases like, “Enough with the small talk,” “Cut to the chase,” and “Get to the point.”
Hot-climate cultures value the exact opposite. In hot-climate cultures relationships rule. If a businessman scheduled for a meeting at 2PM is approached in the elevator by another man who needs to talk the businessman will patiently wait and talk until there is nothing else to say. The relationship being cultivated is more important than his scheduled meeting. That would rarely happen in a cold-climate culture.
Hot-climate cultures use indirect rather than direct communication. They will go out of their way to not offend others. If a woman regretfully receives a horrible hair cut from her beautician her “friends” from cold-climate cultures, who are direct communicators, will bluntly tell her its awful. Those from hot-climate cultures would never do such a thing.
Those of you from the South have a hint of hot-climate in you. I was always struck by the phrase, “Well, bless his/her heart!” I’ve learned that this phrase, while sounding sweet, can have any number of cold-hearted, sarcastic connotations to it. But, to save face and not offend the “moron,” the Southerner will simply use the “bless your heart” phrase to mask their secret thoughts.
In America we value individualism. It is engrained in us from birth. Individualism is a cold-climate characteristic. Hot-climate cultures value identity from the group. The family, tribe, or village gives the hot-climate person identity and value. Cold climate individuals think in terms of me, hot-climate people think in terms of we.
There is much to be learned from hot-climate cultures. The challenge that I have, in thinking on how to reach this drastically different culture, is how do I change what’s been engrained in me for so many years? How do I do as Paul did and become all things to all men? The only answer that makes any sense and brings any hope is that it is not I but Christ living in me! I can rest in that.