Understanding a place through popular proverbs

by Ximena Reyes, Partner & Intercultural Manager

Proverbs are known for being a concrete saying, popularly known, that expresses a truth for the local ways.

Well known “cut to the chase“ or “time is money” are nutshells of a wider mind set encapsulated on these phrases. They are clearly pointing us that you should spare unnecessary introductions or explanations and go directly to the core part of the message or go directly to the relevant part.

While this is highly viewed and appreciated in western oriented cultures, it may be a turn off in more circular thinking cultures. The same way will be perceived as weak for being expressed without anything relevant around it, or it will be perceived as desperate or rude, by using relevance of time but forgeting about timing.

One of the phrases that caught my attention in Romania is “Graba strica treaba” (English version: Better safe than sorry), which means that things done in a hurry won’t be well done. In many cases I have noticed that people is being meticulous while performing a “simple” to me task. My reaction used to be to proceed an explain on a very lineal, logical way, to me, how they could speed up the process, but in 90% of the cases I still had to wait.

So if things are going to take some time it is better to lay back, and use the time you feel it’s being wasted to learn or to think how many of the proverbs back home, can explain the way you are and your own mindset.