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Williams was taken aback. She assured them that the methodology was sound, but the questions and challenges continued. She reacted defensively and the presentation went downhill from there.

The stone wall Williams ran into was “principles first reasoning”, which derives conclusions or facts from general principles or concepts that build up to a general conclusion. People from principles-first cultures, such as Germany, France and Russia want to understand the “why” behind proposals or requests before they move to action.

Being American, Williams’s cultural tendency was towards the opposite, “applications-first reasoning”, where general conclusions are reached based on a pattern of factual observations from the real world, extrapolating initial information. Application-first cultures tend to focus less on the “why” and more on the “how”.