General Question

maudie's avatar

Have you had success working for or with someone despite a substantial difference in work culture, values, or communication style?

Asked by maudie (363points) March 10th, 2010

I’m trying to decide whether to agree to work with a prospective client. The project is interesting, and I have a great deal of respect for the client’s experience and ideas about the project. I also think I have a great deal of value to offer the client. The client wants to work with me, but I’m not sure I’m comfortable with the client’s communication style. The client is substantially older than I am, and I’m worried that my feelings of discomfort might be “ageist.” However, I also know that projects fail all the time because of communication problems, and I don’t want to set up myself or my client for failure because we can’t communicate well with each other.

Have any of you had a similar experience? What did you decide to do? If you succeeded, what helped to bridge the cultural gap? If you failed, what do you think might have prevented failure?

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7 Answers

ninjacolin's avatar

It happens to be the case that what we’re least comfortable with frightens us. The more practice you have with a thing, the more experience you have, the more easy it is to deal with that thing.

Sounds like you have an agism issue, so, your solution is to dive in. Take this opportunity to get to know people of this sort more. Gain experience. Jump in. Make mistakes. Find solutions. Learn and grow.

The benefit in working with this client won’t be the money you make, it will be the experience you gain.

CMaz's avatar

Every day. THAT is a leadership skill.

Vunessuh's avatar

Yup, and I’ve had failures.

davidbetterman's avatar

Yes. My client was diagnosed with autism. My other clients were psychotics. I worked for a company that helps with assisted living for mentally challenged people.

marinelife's avatar

Unless your fears about communications are based on actual communication experience, I don’t know why you would be reluctant to work with this person.

The way around this is to address your concerns up front. Something like, “This is my style of working: changes only in writing, proofs initialed by the client.” (or whatever you like to do). Are you OK with that?

ETpro's avatar

Yes, and I would go further than just citing my successes. I would say that some variance in style and thought process is vital to success. As William Wrigley, Jr. put it; “When two men in business always agree, one of them is unnecessary.”

JTSTs2003's avatar

Go for it. If the desire is there on both ends, then the desire to overcome any obstacles will also be there.

I live in California, where most people around me speak spanish. It’s very interesting and funny sometimes to see those of us who are not bilingual try to communicate with people who only speak spanish!

Go for it!

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