Critical Incident

Adapted from Brislin, R. W., Cushner, K., Cherrie, C., & Yong, M. (1986). Intercultural."Interactions: A Practical Guide (pp. 171-172, 186-187). Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.


Carl was pleased that he was invited to a company party shortly after his first assignment to a Japanese firm. Desiring to experience the Japanese culture as much as he could, he was eager to attend such informal events. At the party, everyone was expected to entertain. Even the senior managers got up to sing a little song or to tell a joke. Carl recited part of Edgar Allen Poe' s poem "The Raven" in a mock serious tone. After the party, Carl was asked to go along with a group of people to one of their favorite bars. Carl thought that he would enjoy this sojourn. People seemed so informal and cooperative, not like the rather stodgy, stuffy people he had read about before coming to Japan.

At a meeting shortly after the party, Carl found himself in the same room as several of the coworkers and senior managers who were at the party and who had contributed to the merriment of the evening with their songs and stories. One of the senior managers mentioned to Carl how much he had enjoyed "The Raven." Noting the manager's informality, Carl spontaneously decided to use the meeting as an opportunity to discuss a proposal that he had been thinking about ever since his arrival in Japan. When Carl brought up his proposal mid-way through the meeting, however, he was met with a wall of silence. After the meeting, Carl was noticeably not included in the numerous informal conversations as people left the meeting.

What was Carl's mistake?