Culture shock: How to break the ice

One of the differences in culture(s) can be understood by observing the attitude regarding 'ownership' of the public versus the 'private' sphere. Switzerland being a republic longer then most places and citizens are sensitive about protection of the public joint ownership. In many other cultures the individual will guard their private/family/clan sphere only and the public sphere is entirely (anonymously) owned by the Government or in a few cases by a King (e.g. the Kingdom of..NN welcomes you). The "Uslaender" in Switzerland might therefore find a warm welcome in the "private sphere" like everywhere else in the world, but he might be considered an intruder in the public space, where in most other places this is of less or even no relevance. So the Swiss might break the ice - if there is any - by asking visitors to join them in respectfully treating the public sphere - which is arising from treating each person respectfully in his and her own right. Exploring together that boundary between the personal and public - that sensitive space in-between - would then lead to the most satisfying and enriching encounters.

Daniel Freiner - 21.10.13

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