Intercultural competence begins with self-awareness

Have you already encountered your first intercultural issue during your holidays? Maybe it was in a restaurant where the waiter did not serve you exactly what you wanted; or maybe your neighbours in your holiday resort are awake when you normally sleep and vice versa. How do you deal with these problems? Do you walk away angry, do you change rooms and hope it won’t happen again?

Intercultural competence begins with knowing who you are and being sensitive to your own values and beliefs. What are your triggers and how do you behave? Where does this come from? How open are you to other views, cultures, habits etc.? A good way to start, is the Bennett scale or “Development Model of Intercultural Sensitivity” (DMIS). You can find more info about it here (as I explained it in one of my previous posts). This scale is actually a good starting point to examine where you are so that you can become aware of your own actions/reactions. If you are in one of the ethnocentric stages for example, you will be more likely to think in stereotypes and not be able to appreciate different worldviews as you would feel threatened by these.

I personally always find that Europe during the summer is an excellent place to practice intercultural competence and skills. Why? Many people from different backgrounds are coming together in major touristic hubs so that you can not only hear and listen to many different languages but also observe different cultural behaviours all in one spot. What a great potpourri of people…

By the way: as I am now on wordpress.org and not anymore on wordpress.com, and if you don’t want to follow me with your e-mail address, you can simply click ‘edit’ in your wordpress reader and enter my URL (www.jennyebermann.com) in the text box at the top of the page. All my new posts will start appearing in your reader immediately! Happy reading! Jenny

Holiday reflections and mindfulness or would you not want to feel like on holidays all year long?

Holiday reflections

Are you on holidays currently or will you soon be? Well, please observe the people around you very carefully. Do they look like they are enjoying the present moment, being fully present or do they seem worried, preoccupied by the things they left home?

It is an interesting exercise, also for me. Let me tell you what I have seen and observed in the mountains (at least an excerpt of it). First and foremost, I saw many parents with their children looking quite tired as their little ones, full of energy, did not leave them a lot of time for themselves. Many were permanently looking for activities and excursions to do, so that the days were filled and the children occupied.

Then there were the sports and outdoor fans, not missing a single opportunity to practice the physical activity they like. In the mountains you would see them walk past very early in the morning as they would leave to climb up their next peak.

I also saw older people who sometimes look a little annoyed because of all the noise and rush.

Not to forget the many Asian and other tourists who usually don’t have much time and want to see a maximum during their stay.

All these people seemed like they were enjoying themselves; finally being on holidays and having the time to be with family, practicing some sports and hobbies or simply changing scenery. Were they able to leave their worries at home? Switch off their mobile devices and simply disconnect? To be honest, I don’t know but from experience I can tell that most of the people cannot simply let go.

It makes me wonder why we actually have to wait for holidays to enjoy ourselves. Can we not simply live our lives to the fullest every day that comes along by fully being present in every single moment?

Mindfulness certainly gives us the tools to do so. Training our brain is like training our muscles in the gym. The more we train, the better and more skilful we become in using our brain’s capacities.

Would you not want to feel free, empowered and full of energy during the whole year whatever you are doing, instead of waiting for a couple of weeks per year? I certainly do…

If you have not done so already, please follow my blog to stay tuned on Mindful Leadership & Intercultural communication issues. I will also be looking at starting a tips and tricks series as well as adding some other interesting features to my blog. Looking forward to meeting you! Jenny

5 tips to take away with you on your holidays

As we are now approaching the holiday season and many of you are already or will soon be away, please remember the following when traveling to foreign countries and meeting people from foreign cultures:

  1. Even if locals speak the same language as you do, chances are high that they have a completely different worldview from yours, i.e. react and behave in a way that is unknown to you.
  2. Try to stay away from stereotypes you might have read or heard about. Preparing for a trip by reading books etc. in advance is certainly good but cannot give you the ‘right way to be’ when you are away.
  3. Be as open as you can, non-judging and observing. The more you try to put yourself into other people’s ‘shoes’, seeing what they see with their eyes, the more you will understand about how they ‘function’. A short trip will never be able to give you full insights though, but at least you will be able to grasp some of the differences surrounding you.
  4. If you encounter problems and difficulties, stay calm and always treat your counter part(s) with respect, whatever happens. Engaging in angry discussions will only put more fuel to the fire. You are certainly not the only one traveling during this time of the year, hence having a little bit more patience than usual will definitely help you on the way.
  5. And, of course: enjoy your time off, energize yourself and stay away from your mobile devices if you can. Give your brain and your whole body the time to rest and to be at ease. Just be, with no need to achieve anything… the more you are able to disconnect, the more your body and mind will rest! Enjoy your time off!

Jenny

Sharing a secret with you…

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And now here is my secret, a very simple secret; it is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible for the eye.

Antoine de St. Exupery via brainyquote.com

Breaking away from my prison of fear

Hilly Road

Today, while sitting on the train and reading: “The Mindful Leader” from Michael Carroll, some of his words really got to me. On page 50, he writes:

“Yet, somehow, for too many of us, our instinctive yearning for creative challenge gradually transformed to the point where we ended up preferring security rather than fresh uncertainty, assurances rather than adventure, a reliable and stable job rather than an inspiring mission”.

M. Carroll then goes on a little bit further asking:

“Can we trust that we are resourceful enough to explore life’s uncertainties with confidence, clarity and adventure? Can we reclaim our natural sense of enthusiasm and abandon the prison of our fears and our need for a stable, secure job? Can we permit ourselves to be fully human?”

I am currently completely overwhelmed by fresh uncertainty and working on an inspiring mission… it is not easy to let go; certainly not the stability and security. I don’t know what lies ahead of me and I need to deal with that ambiguity. But I am confident, and positive as well as optimistic. I abandoned my prison of fear and am re-learning to trust my inner gut-feeling. Although it is still early in the process, I can say that It feels good to rediscover who I am and what I stand for!

Let me finish with these words from Carroll on page 52:

“In the tradition of the mindful leader, rather than leading with will, power and ambition, we lead and inspire one another with openness, intelligence, and vulnerability”.

Jenny

 

 

SIETAR Europa Congress in Tallinn – Press release

Intercultural Communication

See on Scoop.itMindful Leadership & Intercultural Communication

Jenny Ebermann‘s insight:

Major intercultural communications global conference: will you be there? Looking forward to meeting you in person! Jenny

See on dl.dropboxusercontent.com

Mindful Leadership“The primary act of mindful leadership (…) is to open – to fully appreciate our circumstances before we seek to influence or act upon them. When we are willing to open to our world before we act, we not only learn what we need to know, but equally important, we express a vital, innate intelligence that is sharp, flexible and unassuming. At such moments, we view our workplace without any lenses, undistracted by our priorities, our preferences, our vision of the future. Instead we grasp directly the full measure of our present circumstances, recognizing opportunities, appreciating other’s views, acknowledging difficulties (…).”

Michael Carroll in: “The Mindful Leader”, 2007, page 23-24.