“An expat is often someone who knows little about his own people he spent a long time with, but thinks he knows everything about the foreigners he has spent a short time with.” (T. Crossley)
Food for thought!
Two days of teaching international marketing for Master’s students from all over the world in Caen have made me realise important things:
- Being able to share my experience with the next generation of international managers is fantastic and I find, very rewarding;
- Seeing different cultures respond differently to cases, questions etc. is always a great learning and extremely enriching;
- Through education we can ensure that people view each other with different eyes. Once returned to their home countries, these impressions and learnings will stay and shape the quality of their future relationships.
Thank you to my students for a great time, and all the best for the future! Jenny
During this holiday season, I had the pleasure of going home again. To those of you who are following this blog on a regular basis, you might know that ‘home’ for me is quite an interesting term. Usually, I use it for Brussels, the town where I grew up in and where I still feel very attached to.
For the first time in a while, I noticed something new when listening to the people in the streets, restaurants and other locations where crowds meet: even more languages than ever before. More worrying for me: I was not even able to recognize some of them, hence would not be able to say from which country the people speaking them would come from.
Since I lived there, many things have indeed changed in Europe’s capital. Not only have the member states passed from 12 at the time to 28 today which means a huge organization when it comes to elections; We now also have a single currency in 18 member states meaning that you don’t need to change money anymore when crossing the border… I still remember the times and even the exchange rates between the countries when this was not the case: what a complicated undertaking! I also remember having to show passports at borders and the need to explain what my different grades were worth in various countries to have the right to study there as no credit system existed at the time…. Wow, either I am getting old or things change fast 😉
What also struck me over the holidays was the fact that all these different people with different habits, worldviews, behaviors are living and working together in one city, bringing their own traditions, norms and values with them. What a colorful potpourri of people and truly something making the heart of a European Intercultural Chameleon like me beat faster. How enriching those encounters are but how full of problems and misunderstandings they can be if not lived and accepted with patience and a non-judging and open attitude.
2014 begins in the heart of Europe for me and who knows where my intercultural and mindful path will lead me this year. Maybe to you! Don’t hesitate to contact me if your teams are not working well together or you need to understand what motivates people from a different culture to become more efficient. My up-bringing and years of experience coupled with various languages and other skills will surely be able to bring you further on your path. Looking very much forward to it!
See on Scoop.it – Mindful Leadership & Intercultural Communication
Culture at Work: The value of intercultural skills in the workplace —A survey conducted by the British Council, Booz Allen Hamilton and Ipsos Public Affairs, of HR managers at 367 large employers i…
Not new but very relevant and interesting! Thanks Dianne for posting this!
See on blog.culturaldetective.com
On my way to Tallinn where I am attending the 2013 SIETAR Congress, I read some interesting articles related to intercultural research, mindfulness and leadership. It always strikes me, how much everything is interrelated!
For example I read that leadership is not about controlling others and the environment we live/work in but to accept and treat others as ‘human beings’ who as such are capable of compassion, creativity and generosity. All it needs is somebody to bring out these qualities and skills, hence to work with collective emotional intelligence rather than with individual intellects only.
Whereas this would appear obvious to a mindful leader, another article expanding these thoughts by Amnon Buchbinder on Philip Shepherd’s ‘Out of our heads’ retained my attention. The latter explores the implications of the fact that there are two brains (yes!) within us: the cranial one which we know and the so-called ‘enteric brain’ located in our bellies (in the gut).
From my understanding of neuroscience, I know that there is a web of neurons in the belly allowing us to listen to the outside world through our bodies; what I did not know though, was how we as humans in our Western culture historically ended up putting so much emphasis on our ‘cranial brain’ and the intellect thus moving our ‘thinking’ self to the head.
We live in a ‘head-centered’ society and of course this has multiple consequences in our lives, on our organisational cultures, our education etc.etc. Interestingly, the idea of an integrated mind and body (i.e. the harmony we need to achieve in order to align our ‘two brains’), “the embodied feeling and lived experience” (Bennett, Castiglioni) also lies at the center of intercultural adaptation: the intuitive feeling of a culture is as important as cultural awareness and knowledge of a foreign culture to be able to effectively deal with difference.
Food for thought! During the next days here in Tallinn, I will certainly be learning many more new aspects of intercultural research, training and education. I can only say that listening to my gut feeling has brought me here and the practice of mindfulness is certainly one way of being in touch with myself again.
If you haven’t done so already, please follow my blog to learn more about Mindful Leadership & Intercultural Communications. I will be offering some free 20 minutes coaching sessions very soon for those of you who don’t really know what it is, want to try it out or simply are in need of coaching. Sign up here!
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
“How can you govern a country which has 246 varieties of cheese?” Charles de Gaulle via goodreads
“No culture can live if it attempts to be exclusive” Mahatma Gandhi