1.4.5 - The Concept of Time

 

The Concept of Time

 

The exercise with the shopkeeper behind the counter demonstrates how culture even determines how we line up (or queue) for service. It also demonstrates our concern, or lack of concern, about how we use time. The two poles or extremes of this time dimension— monochronic and polychronic are described below:

 

Monochronic

Time is the given and people are the variable. The needs of people are adjusted to suit the demands of time—schedules, deadlines, etc. Time is quantifiable, and a limited amount of it is available. People do one thing at a time and finish it before starting something else, regardless of circumstances.

 

Polychronic

Time is the servant and tool of people. Time is adjusted to suit the needs of people. More time is always available, and you are never too busy. People often have to do several things simultaneously, as required by circumstances. It’s not necessary to finish one thing before starting another, nor to finish your business with one person before starting in with another.

 

Try testing how well you understand these concepts of time.

 

In the underlined blank space before each of the behaviors or characteristics listed below, put “M” if you think it is more likely to apply to a culture where time is monochronic and “P” if it is polychronic.

 

Characteristics and Behaviors

1.
  Time is money.
2.
  To be late is rude.
3.
  Schedules are sacred.
4.
  The focus is on the task, getting the job done.
5.
  Being made to wait is normal.
6.
  Interruptions are life.
7.
  Plans are fixed, once agreed upon.
8.
  This attitude is consistent with an individualist viewpoint.
9.
  The focus is on the person, establishing a relationship.
10.
  This attitude is consistent with a collectivist viewpoint.
11.
  Deadlines are an approximation.
12.
  To be late is to be late.
13.
  Focus on the internal clock.
14.
  Plans are always changing.
15.
  Having to wait is an insult.
16.
  People are never too busy.
17.
  Interruptions are bad.
18.
  People stand in line.

 

Now look at the suggested answers.


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