Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Cultural nuances

We had a wedding party in the gîte this last weekend. The guests were all French except for one English man. This combination highlighted a little cultural difference that perhaps is a reflection of a more profound difference in thought.

There were two different cakes; one in celebration of the wedding and the other in celebration of a birthday, both events being celebrated at the same meal.

Faced with dividing two different-flavoured cakes between 16 people, the English instinct is to divide the two cakes into 8 portions each and ask the diners which flavour they would prefer. This is so that everyone can choose their favourite. The French instinct is to divide each cake into 16 portions and give everyone a smaller piece of both cakes. This is so that everyone gets an equal share.

Curious. And with interesting implications for possibilities of conflict, resolution and negotiation too.

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