This topic I intend as a general discussion of etiquette, culture, and communication skills. These are naturally relevant in some way to any discussion, but this is for when discussion of protocol or norms risks becoming a meta-topic which distracts from what is otherwise being discussed.
As a point of departure, one source I have found useful recently is the TTC lecture Customs of the World: Using Cultural Intelligence to Adapt, Wherever You Are, by David Livermore. I find it far more useful for being able to recognize and classify cultural trends than it is for knowing how to adapt to them. He does this mostly by putting forth a list of cultural continua:
Identity - individualist versus collectivist
Authority - low versus high power distance
Risk - low versus high uncertainty avoidance
Achievement - cooperative versus competitive
Time - punctuality versus relationships
Communication - direct versus indirect
Lifestyle - being versus doing
Rules - particularist versus universalist
Certain traditional cultures of the various regions of the Earth have tended, for various reasons, towards certain combinations of tendencies to cluster together. So the idea is that travellers, businesspeople, academics, etc can more readily recognize and adapt to and interoperate with what can be fundamentally different conceptions of self, other, group, space and time - units of interaction so broad and basic that they can be easy for anyone to take for granted.
They can, I think, also be useful for evaluating subcultures, groups of any size, as well as persons. For instance, I grew up knowing of McLuhan even in preschool, and so actually socialized with a “global village” ethos of whatever works, from any time and place in human history. So it can be said that I socialized to a truly synthetic culture. Doesn’t everybody? I think that it can be argued that this does happen, to a greater or lesser extent with many people.
When I don’t know how to adapt, I strive to at least agree to disagree. One example is that I tend towards an extremely dry, declarative style which is direct. By which I mean that I tend to be referring to something explicit, and hope that I can clarify with the listener precisely what that is, without making them guess. Even though I can understand the idea of indirect, implicit communication, I struggle to do it with any facility. For me it’s like saying “If 2+2 wasn’t 4, what number would it be?” My own personal values might be that I have doubts about how realistic or applicable an indiect method may be, but I accept that it is a real methodology which people use. They aren’t going to stop based upon my skepticism, and we are not necessarily better off through agreeing not to communicate.
But when one implicitly assumes that one’s most basic ways of seeing the world are universal (or worse, should be universal) then it can be difficult to avoid perceiving the other as being wilfully obtuse. But insisting that they simply “mind their manners”, “be nice”, or “show some respect” can be analogous to shouting at a person because they don’t already know your language. There might be reasons of temperament or practicality why we might need to concede that effective communication is not always going to happen in the short term.
But perhaps sharing observations and methods here can help!