Monochronic vs. Polychronic Cultures

Monochronic People

Polychronic People

Do one thing at a time

Do many things at once

Concentrate on the job

Can be easily distracted and manage interruptions well

Take time commitments seriously

Consider an objective to be achieved, if possible

Are low context and need information

Are high context and already have information

Are committed to the job

Are committed to people and human relationships

Adhere religiously to plans

Change plans often and easily

Are concerned about not disturbing others; follow rules of privacy and consideration

Are more concerned with those who are closely related than privacy

Show great respect for private property; seldom borrow or lend

Borrow and lend things often and easily

Emphasize promptness

Base promptness on the relationship

Are accustomed to short term relationships

Have strong tendency to build lifetime relationships

I read an article which had the above table characterizing Americans as Monochonic people and French as Polychronic.

Source: Adapted from Edward T. Hall, “Understanding cultural Differences: Germans, French, and Americans” (Yarmouth, ME: International Press, 1990).

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