Influencers from Around the World – What Drives Liking? Different Scenes Between the US and Korea

This month’s article is from Hoh Kim. I met Hoh in January 2008 when we went through the certification process with Dr. Cialdini. Hoh is an extremely intelligent person. That combined with the fact that he studied and worked in America for many years gives him a great perspective to compare different principles of influence between the Asian and American cultures.
Brian, CMCT
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.
What Drives Liking?
Different Scenes Between the US and Korea
The principle of liking teaches us an important life lesson. If someone doesn’t like me, then I’ll have a low chance to successfully persuade them even when I have a great idea or logic. Without a good relationship, there’s no good influence. We all know the importance of relationship. That’s why most of us spend time and energy to build networks and relationships in our personal and professional lives. That’s why we sometimes go to parties. We naturally know how to build relationships with others, from classmates and friends to colleagues and clients. However, sometimes, it’s not natural with others from different cultures. Different cultures might like different things. E. Y. Kim, a scholar in intercultural study, wrote the following in the book The Yin and Yang of American Culture: A Paradox, in 2001. Larry Samovar, Richard Porter, and Edwin McDaniel, quoted Kim in their book Communication between cultures: “Americans are action oriented; they are go-getters. They get going, get things done, and get ahead. In America, people gather for action – to play basketball, to dance, to go to a concert. When groups gather they play games or watch videos. Many Americans don’t have the patience to sit down and talk…Life is in constant motion.” My experience of living in the U.S. in 1990s and working for American companies (Merck and Edelman) in Korea tells a similar story. When we compare the American and Korean cultures, Americans prefer to “DO” together, while Koreans prefer to “BE” together. According to Dr. Cialdini, similarities are a driver for the principle of liking. Americans and Koreans will focus on “different similarities.” For example, graduating the same high school would probably mean more to Koreans than Americans. When Koreans build relationships, they tend to spend more energy to try to find out similarities such as same school, same hometown, or knowing the same people, etc. Of course, Americans will also be glad to know when someone at a party graduated the same high school but, to Koreans, in many cases, knowing the fact that someone graduated the same high school is not just good to know, but, immediately they felt that they have to give more favor to them compared to others (even paying for her or his alcohol or food bill). Probably, same hobby (doing) would mean more to Americans than Korean. Even the same thing, for example, drinking together, would mean different context. Standing bar or standing party is a very Western thing. See, Americans like to move even when drinking. Most Koreans would prefer drink together in a small group, three or four but definitely not more than 10, and in a room rather than in open space. That’s a Korean style party. At American parties, people will stand up and move here and there to meet new people and introduce each other. Koreans would stick to the same place such as a small room with same few people, of the three or four friends, and typically drink the same drinks together. So, what does it mean to us? With globalization we no longer work with the people from the same cultures so there’s a good chance you might go to another country and work with people from other cultures. For example, there are American executives in Korea working with Korean colleagues for the first time in their lives. You would have to build relationship with them. But, before you build relationship, think about what are the drivers of liking because they might be different. As an American executive in an American company operating in Korea, you might hold a standing party with Korean employees to build relationship with them. Possibly, you might feel that you would need to hold the parties (standing parties) more often but, in fact; you might need smaller group parties with Korean colleagues, rather than one big standing party, which will not be that helpful to build relationship with Koreans. Of course, if Koreans go to the States and work with American colleagues, they would need to learn how to mingle better in a standing party. Different culture means different context, and often, they key to understanding others is in that context. Hoh Kim
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