Campbell instructor publishes guide to Arab social and business culture

December 7, 2008 | Leave a Comment

Camp Lejeune, N.C.—Campbell University Adjunct Instructor Stephen J. McGrane came back from a military assignment in the Persian Gulf feeling as though he had been ill prepared to deal with the Arab culture.  To keep others from making the same mistakes, McGrane decided to write a book, “Sit Crooked and Speak Straight: Doing Business on the Arabian Peninsula,” a cross-cultural guide for the western businessperson that is also useful for government officials, military personnel, educators or anyone else wanting to gain insight into the Arab social and business culture.

“After I got to the Persian Gulf, I discovered some of the cultural training I received was incomplete or even misleading,” said McGrane, a retired Marine Corps officer who teaches International Management and other business courses at Campbell. “For example, westerners favor a direct approach to communication and may view indirect responses as dishonest, while Arabs view directness as rude and suspicious.”

Some Marines who took the spoken words of Arabs literally came away thinking they had been deceived when actually they had misinterpreted the message, McGrane added.

“This book clarifies the Arab use of linguistic symbols and nonverbal communication. It contains things I wish someone had told me before I went to the Middle East,” he said.

In addition to communication patterns, the book explains other Arab behaviors like business and social etiquette; it details how to communicate and negotiate with Arabs more effectively; and provides practical business tips. The book also contains a list of country differences, the do’s and don’ts of cultural behavior, common Arabic business terms and a list of useful websites.

 “The title of the book, ‘Sit Crooked and Speak Straight,’ is taken from an Arab proverb,” McGrane said. “It means you should adapt to the culture without going local, be honest and learn to communicate effectively. Hopefully this book will help the reader to do that.”

Stephen McGrane has spent 10 years living, working and traveling in the Arabian Peninsula. He has taught International Management and other business classes at Campbell University’s Camp Lejeune campus since 2006. McGrane holds Master of Arts and Master of Business Administration degrees from Webster University. He also serves as a consultant to Middle East importers and exporters and is a real estate broker at Topsail Island, N.C. McGrane is currently writing a book on the history of the Arab League.

“Sit Crooked and Speak Straight” is available from Llumina Press, Ingram, and Baker & Taylor. Toll free orders may be placed by calling 866-229-9244 or by visiting the Llumina Press website at http:[email protected] . com. The book is also available on, the Barnes and Noble website and the book’s website: http//