Monochronic people versus Polychronic people

In this article we start with simple notation of the category of people mentioned in the title.

Monochronic People

* Do one thing at a time
* Concentrate on the job.
* Take time commitments (deadlines, schedules) seriously.
* Are low-context and need information.
* Are committed to the job.
* Adhere religiously to plans.
* Are concerned about not disturbing others; follows rules of privacy and consideration.
* Show great respect for private property; seldom borrow or lend.
* Emphasize promptness.
* Are accustomed to short-term relationships.

Polychronic People

* Do many things simultaneously
* Are highly distractible and subject to interruptions.
* Consider time commitments an objective to be achieved if possible.
* Are high-context and already have information.
* Are committed to people and human relationships.
* Change plans often and easily.
* Are more concerned with those who are closely related (family, friends, close business associate) than with privacy.
* Borrow and lend things often and easily.
* Base promptness on the relationship.
* Have strong tendency to build lifetime relationships.

The culture of a country becomes an important determinant of peoples’ behavior as business gets global. Stories rituals, language, traditions etc. of the country impacts the culture of the organization of that country. For instance, cultures differ widely in terms of their concept of time. Besides the obvious implications for punctuality, the difference also lies in how people from different cultures use their time. Many western cultures (e.g. US, Germany, Switzerland etc) are highly ‘monochronic’ i.e. people from these cultures prefer to deal with one task at a time. Thus, it is normal that a German would plan out every activity in a step-by-step manner. On the other hand, many Latin and Asian countries (e.g. India, Brazil Spain, Arab Countries etc) have a ‘polychronic’ orientation, i.e. it is quite normal for people to deal with more than one activity at the same time, (it would not be unusual for an Italian or Latin American to interrupt a meeting to make a personal call).

People from polychromic cultures find monochromic cultures too mechanical, compartmentalized and rigid. On the other hand, people from a monochronic background find polychronism to be an evidence of lack of focus and sincerity.

Similarly in more individualistic countries (e.g. US, Australia, UK etc) it is culturally acceptable to speak one’s mind and express disagreements. For a person coming from a collective culture (e.g. Mexico, Indonesia, Japan, China etc) such expressions would be perceived as discourteous, and even aggressive. On the other hand, in collective cultures, disagreement (if at all) in more subtle manner, which to a person coming from individualistic culture, would look as dishonest and lacking in trustworthiness.