How Time Perception Impacts Effective Meetings

Different cultures perceive time differently, and these differences can impact their attitude towards meetings. For example, in some cultures, time is viewed as a commodity to be used efficiently, while in others, time is seen as a more fluid concept that can be stretched or compressed to suit the situation. In this context, it’s important to be aware of these differences to avoid misunderstandings and conflicts in a team environment.

TIP: If your team includes members from different cultures, consider having an informal conversation about time related customs and beliefs, so your team members share their views and learn about each other more.

Then you can:

  • Set clear meeting agendas and expectations: Prior to the meeting, provide a clear and detailed agenda that outlines the meeting’s purpose, goals, and expected outcomes. Include a specific start and end time for the meeting, and remind team members of the importance of punctuality.
  • Allow for flexible scheduling: Be mindful of cultural differences in attitudes towards time and consider allowing for some flexibility in scheduling to accommodate these differences. For example, if you have team members who come from cultures where time is viewed as more fluid, consider scheduling the meeting with a buffer period before or after to allow for a more relaxed approach.
  • Encourage open communication and collaboration: To build trust and foster a positive team dynamic, encourage all team members to participate equally in discussions and decision-making. This can help to create a sense of inclusivity and respect for different cultural perspectives.
  • Clarify expectations around communication: Different cultures may have different communication styles and preferences. Make sure everyone understands the preferred communication channels for the team, and set expectations around response times and availability.
  • Use visual aids and other tools: To ensure everyone understands the meeting content, consider using visual aids such as diagrams, charts, or slides. This can help to convey complex ideas more clearly and reduce misunderstandings due to language or cultural barriers.