How do cultural beliefs affect career advancement?

How do cultural beliefs affect career advancement?
How do cultural beliefs affect career advancement? Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst.

Can cultural beliefs affect how much a person can advance in her career? Especially when she moves to another culture? I believe so, based on my observation of ESL clients I’ve worked with over the years. Some were already accomplished professionals before moving to the U.S. Others are simply happy to find work with good companies, whether they advance or not. So how do cultural beliefs affect career advancement?

How cultural beliefs affect career advancement

He feels rude to jump into a discussion

In one example, a very accomplished Japanese engineer finds it difficult to join in discussions with his American colleagues. People just jump in and interrupt others. He finds it rude. In his Japanese company, meetings are orderly. People take turns when they share their ideas. In the new office, he cannot speak unless he interrupts another. Although he forces himself to jump in, he feels uncomfortable doing so.

They were afraid to speak up

In another company, several employees from the same country were having problems with the new supervisor. The new manager did not have a kind voice or attitude. But he genuinely wants to know how to be a better supervisor. But those employees would not tell him. In their native culture, that could cost them their jobs. So they suffer during the time that supervisor was there. And he lost out too because he would have enjoyed their generous and hospitable nature. And everybody could have had a better time at work.

If you are wondering how your cultural beliefs can help or hinder you from advancing in your career, the article How to help your ESL employees prepare for performance reviews can offer some insights. And if you are supervising ESL employees, the article would definitely help you get more out of those meetings.

These are just some general thoughts on how cultural beliefs can affect your career advancement. Here are a couple of blogs that can help you, whether you are seeking to advance, or if you are managing team members from different countries. Workplace tips for immigrants offers some success tips. And Tips for managers of multi-cultural team offers ideas for supervisors.

Estrella Chan coaches immigrants and international professionals in English fluency, interview skills, and public speaking.    You can schedule a session with her at

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