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Crafting the Customer Experience For People Not Like You: How to Delight and Engage the Customers Your Competitors Don't Understand by Kelly McDonald

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ACCULTURATION, NOT ASSIMILATION

Every immigrant who arrives in a new country goes through the process of acculturation. It doesn’t matter if you are Polish and move to Switzerland, are an American who moves to Greece, or are British and move to India. Regardless of who you are and where you’re from, you will experience acculturation if you move to another country.

And although many people use the word acculturation interchangeably with assimilation, they really shouldn’t. The two words actually have very different meanings. Assimilation means you forfeit your culture and adopt the habits and traditions of a new culture. Acculturation means that you retain aspects of your primary culture that you value while also adopting aspects of a new culture. With acculturation, there are certain things you like and want from a new culture; however, there are certain things that you want to maintain from your primary culture, too. Think of it this way: assimilation is about “either/or” (for example, I’m either Hungarian or I’m British), whereas acculturation is about “and” (for example, I’m Hungarian and I’m also British).

Acculturation is the merging of two cultures in close contact. It’s what happens when a person moves to a new country or is exposed to a country’s culture, values, and lifestyles.

And because it is a process, people move through it in varying degrees and at varying speeds. Some people acculturate very rapidly to a new culture; others never really acculturate much at all. ...

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