Culture and Behavior: Think Before You Nudge
Behavior is what a person does, not what they think or what we think they think in sending a Nudge Note. Cultural and gender differences are influencers on behavior, but it is well-timed feedback through a Nudge Note that is the most powerful tool to shape behavior in a positive way.
We are a vast species that has spread out around the world. We adapted to our various environments and managed not to kill ourselves off. We are two genders and are represented by physical pigmentation characteristics that we refer to as brown, black, yellow, red, and white. Regardless of pigmentation or culture, all people take in nourishment by eating it. With few exceptions we live 4 score years and we reproduce identically. We live, we love, we work, we have our differences, we age, and we die. When the heart stops beating, pigmentation and politics make no difference. Until that time we behave and at times we misbehave, a time when a Nudge Note may be sent. But, what is considered misbehavior in one culture is fully acceptable in another.
Cultures are rapidly coming together in this age of global migration. While we are a nation of immigrants our blended culture is more of a stew pot than a melting pot. “What’s the difference,” you may ask? A fondue takes multiple cheeses and melts them together into a single gooey mass that takes dark yellows and whites, ambers, and light yellows and produces a blended color with blended flavors. The individual cheeses become as one. In a stew the added vegetables and meats come together with various added spices to come up with a celebration of the various parts. When you look into the stewpot you can still identify the carrots, peas, and potatoes, etc. In both pots the whole is greater than the parts. The common theme between the two recipes is the fact that the constituents have become one meal, consider this when preparing to sent a Nudge Note, is it constructive to the whole group involved, or a cultural complaint.
Shaping behavior through a Nudge Note is like cooking a stew. We may want the flavor that an onion brings or the heat that is found in a good pepper. Preparing the onion or pepper can be a little “dicey” to begin with but once it is shaped and added to the pot it mellows a bit and you get the meal you wanted.
Our human ingredients come from Anglican, Hispanic, African, Eurasian, Native American, Polynesian, etc. roots and with those people comes their behaviors that reflect that culture. They are neither right nor wrong given the appropriate environment. They are simply different behaviors. They are what people do. The “rightness” or “wrongness” of a behavior is defined in the various laws that have been developed on the thousands of years of human existence. Many culture based behaviors are below the legal threshold but may be aggravating to people not familiar with the culture. For those of us lacking familiarity with a particular culture centered behavior our first response deals with the “behavior’s” sanity. “Clearly,” we think, “No one in their right mind would not take a shower daily!” Time for a Nudge Note?
My wife creates a layered stew that is absolutely wonderful. I don’t pretend to know how she does it but she layers each of the ingredients. If, when the stew is served you don’t dig deeply into the pot you can end up with a plate full of peas surrounded by an amazing broth. The bottom line is a plateful of peas. Culture is a layered stew, think of this when deciding which Nudge Note to send in different circumstances. We have a national existence that says who we are as a country and what our values are. This is a diverse and somewhat confusing array of people and behaviors held together by the rule of law. When a national disaster or threat is thrust upon us we behave as a nation.
I have lived around the world and country and have come to fully appreciate the regional aspects of cultures. The three years that I lived in Hawaii were different from the three years in Oklahoma and the three years in Washington State or the two years in Alabama. There were variations on a common theme with some changes in religion, ethnic composition and articulation of our common English language. Within each of these regions and our national existence there is not sufficient variation to lead to significant behavioral misunderstanding when sending a Nudge Note. There is a gender layer that brings about some differences in how behaviors are interpreted and, as always, there is the generation gap with the meanings of words changing and the subsequent misunderstandings. Education and corporate cultures round out the stew with gaps between education levels and those who work as employees in occupations and those who do not work outside of the home, or at all. Consider the culture of the person you want to send the Nudge Note to.
That brings us to the complex nature of deciding whether to: 1. Read a Nudge Note and do nothing with it, 2. Read a Nudge Note and pick up a hint or two of how to manage a problem behavior, 3. Read a Nudge Note and send it while hoping for the best, or 4. Read and send a Nudge Note, look for changes in behavior from the person you sent it to and then reinforce the new behaviors. Of course if you go with option 4 you may blow your cover as the anonymous “Nudger”.
There is a fifth option within the Nudge Notes website that is generally appreciated regardless of nationality, region, gender, generation, education, or work status. “Positive Nudges” are at the top of the list for a reason. Almost everyone enjoys a compliment. Right now The Nudge Notes website carries 23 Positive Nudges, with more being added every day. If you want to run a test that causes no harm send out a, “You are the best!” Timing… always remember timing. Behavior that is reinforced will generally produce more of that behavior. If your boss has been yelling at the staff, threatening termination of entire divisions, referring to every other employee as a loser, etc. do not send out, “Keep up the good work” or “Atta boy”. “I just wanted you to know you are doing a great job!” You will get more of that behavior. What ever you decide, sending a Nudge Note is the first step, then judge reactions and send another, you get the hang of it and improve your Layered stew in the process!