Country Cultural Stereotypes – Are they out of date?

Bipolar or 3D?

Here is a thought provoking post to kick of the month. If you are prone to displaying strong emotions – you will enjoy this article as there is something for everybody to react to…

I am still surprised to see intercultural diagrams showing bipolar dimensions populated with country flags. The historical starting point for this was the pioneering work at IBM carried out by Dr. Geert Hofstede. His premise was that countries were a valid and useful unit of comparative culture and that, further more, over time they have produced unique conditions that, in turn, shape country cultures. Additionally we were told that country culture is, mostly, a constant and unchanging phenomenon.

collage of people on the phone

Technology is changing culture.

BEFORE

The thoughts and filters of scientists and engineers are subconsciously influenced by their environment. Certainly various conditions present in the 1960’s helped to support early interculture theory.

When viewed from the present day, populations 50 or 60 years ago were relatively sedentary. Air transport was prohibitively expensive and not available to all, the Iron Curtain was in place, China was closed and the technology did not exist to promote affordable multicultural exchange or the viable existence of remote and virtual teams. There were many fewer transnational corporations and, most importantly of all, social ranking represented the status quo and this norm was not questioned or challenged as much as it is today – more on that later.

NOW – while there are many aspects of modern life that disgust us – perpetual war, wealth inequality and massive social injustice, there also exist things that represent forces for liberation and progress. A byproduct of these positive changes is that we can enjoy a more holistic view of culture.

Borders – A hundred year’s ago, French diplomat Francois Georges-Picot and Brit, Sir Mark Sykes secretly settled the political areas of influence in Asia Minor drawing up a new map favouring government expedience over cultural sensitivity. This document demonstrated the awesome power wielded by posh white men. The resulting map was to have profound consequences for the whole of the Middle East. The effects of its creation continue to be felt today.

Travel – The availability of travel is exemplified by my children. They can match their age with the number of countries visited – It is now taken as part of their human right to move and experience geographical contrasts. Cheap airlines, airbnb and cash machines facilitate the massive modern movement of people. And, 2004 and 2014 had profound effects on the movement of people seeking employment within the EU countries.

Technology – virtual videoconference equipment, Skype and Facetime are shrinking the world and giving us access to more experience – instantly. A trivial example happened a few Christmases ago – we had a Facetime call and saw into a German home – with real candles alight on a Christmas tree. We even joined in the singing. And, we did not have to leave London to experience this.

Awareness and diversity – the secret and overt revolution that is moving culture training away from sophisticated country stereotypes toward something more nuanced and layered centres on diversity. Via education and experience, we are moving from acceptance of social rank, to question and investigate both privilege and marginality. We are looking for answers. Pioneering work in this field has enabled a mindful generation to form and own their identity based on more than 70 aspects of diversity, moving us beyond country of origin.

In some cases this represents a journey from oppression to deeper community membership.

Dogged communication is exposing the mechanisms and social cost of old colonial systems and historical country power structures. This is creating possibilities for many, formerly excluded, people.

Social media – put simply, the democratic forces of the web can transcend the historic barriers of class, education, wealth or gender oppression. The absence of a dominant country passport is no longer fatal. More are allowed participate in the richness of our world via travel and virtual connectivity

Group of friends having fun together outdoors

What is possible now?

The FUTURE

So, in the last 60 years we have moved from a rigid white Anglo Saxon Protestant male authored power map with its world of self drawn borders and fixed countries, to a richer and increasingly multifaceted reality where each individual’s net privilege and marginality combine with other connections and relationships to give currency and access to virtual communities, education and economic possibilities.

On offer is membership of something shared and beyond being from a winning or losing country.

The shift from dimensions to a world of 3 dimensional participation makes the bipolar scales used by interculturalists look a little dusty – like a museum exhibit.

 

Advertisements

Why You Should Write a Book in 2019

Scribble yourself credible with Matthew Hill

When I look at the regular readers of the Intercultural Training Channel blog and newsletter, I recognise it least 40 authors. These heroes have made the decision to write a book and to get it published. They are people who stand out from the crowd. They tend to have a higher social media presence, are more involved with credible organisations and, probably, they charge a premium for their time and work.

Vintage red typewriter with blank paper

Making the decision to start – That is the tricky bit.

So what is stopping you?

When I speak to coaches and trainers at conferences and congresses and ask them why they aren’t more involved in writing to promote their message, I hear a narrow and repeating collection of responses.

“I am not a good writer”,” I haven’t got the time”,” I’ve got nothing original to say”, ”everything’s been said on my subject already” or, ” I lack the discipline to complete a book.”

The problem with self-limiting beliefs is they turn into self-fulfilling prophecies.

In this piece I want to give you a nudge by pointing out some of the benefits of being a published author.

The Benefits of Authorship

  1. The credibility of authorship despite social media, video cameras, and the ever-increasing number of opportunities to present in public, having your own book still carries more weight than just about anything else. When it comes to leveraging your brand, accessing opportunities and being taken seriously as an expert in your field, a book is critical. Many TV shows, and radio stations, will ONLY interview people who have published a book. When you tell people you have written a book, they hesitate and then treat you in a completely different way. It is one of the few things, that creates almost instant credibility and differentiation.
  2. Opening doors whilst you sleep a book, once released and roaming free in the world, tirelessly works for you – converting strangers into acquaintances and admirers into screaming, raving fans who are happy to advocate your genius. Think of your book as an advertising billboards or hoardings, shining out like a beacon in all parts of the world, and hailing you as a key person of influence. James Joyce describes a stranger as being a friend that you have yet to meet. This is the magic of a book. It is a stranger converter.
  3. Your calling card successful author and informational product creator, Peter Thomson, says that going into a meeting and bringing a published book out of your bag, is a reliable method for testing the temperature and anticipating the intentions of the people sitting around the meeting table. If they treat your tome with respect, deference and interests, your business relationship will be a constructive one. If they put their cup of coffee on it, you may as well pack up and leave early – They are not going to fully appreciate your value.
  4. Credo there are millions of people out there, many of whom will never work with you. Likewise there are a few hundred people who would really benefit from collaborating and accessing your expertise. A book filters out the wrong people and warms up the right ones, generating a healthy interest and qualifying them in by helping them to understand what you stand for before they become motivated to get in contact with you. Think of a book as an elaborate filtering system saving you many unsuccessful blind dates, pointless meetings and expensive journeys.
  5. Intellectual property the discipline of writing a book centres on finding a structure to hang and place all of your thoughts and feelings. One of the best ways to do this is to construct a model – the 4P’s of marketing by Philip Kotler is a great example of a structure that resonates well with a wide audience. The discipline of forming a model will play to your advantage as a communicator. It makes your message accessible to a specific target audience and becomes a vital pillar helping to establish your professional brand.
  6. Your book is management consultancy Following on from 5. A good book takes the reader on a journey. Questions are asked, thoughts are experienced and, at the end, the reader may understand their lack, gap, space and pain with a new clarity. It is the uncovering and clarifying of the reader’s need that will propel them to get in contact with you and to engage at a deeper level.
  7. Your book is a publicity generator linked to 1. A book can generate keynote speech invitations, magazine interviews and qualified warm business meetings. Here you will be provided with a platform to convert the book’s message into a critical speech, a pitch or interactive audience session that will generate income, interest and progress.

A final thought

In this post, I have attempted to briefly outline the extraordinary benefits of completing your writing and publishing process. For many people it is about making a decision to start. It is about owning your expert area and it is about putting a structure in place to shape your many thoughts. After writing your book, there follows a complex procedure of publishing and promoting that makes the writing of the book seem like one of the smaller parts of the project.

If you commit to this process, I know you will enjoy yourself, benefit from the discipline and reflection involved, and reap the rewards of being seen as an expert. The bonus comes from the instant and increased credibility of simply being an author.

Book.

Done it! – There is no better feeling in the world.

Your move – If you have enjoyed this post and find it of value, please forward it to other budding authors. Please like and, do share in on Social Media.

About the Author – Matthew Hill has written 5 books and helps independent trainers, coaches and mediators to find their voice and start scribbling. Do feel free to get in touch if this post has moved you strongly to pick up a pen – matthew.hill@hillnetworks.com