Louise and the 5 Chairs -Owning our Behaviour – Louise Evans

SIETARian, Interculturalist and Corporate Coach, Louise Evans gives a profound and inspiring talk expanding on the work of Marshall Rosenberg  – Father of Non Violent Communication, at TEDx in Genova. Own your Behaviours, Master your Communication and… Determine your Success. Thanks Louise.

The 5 Chairs

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Trump – What Now? An Opinion Piece by Matthew Hill

Conflict Theory applied to the White House

Having returned from New York last week after the Inauguration and the Women’s Marches, I have digested some of the conversations we had over there and wanted to note a couple of observations from a cultural and conflict resolution point of view.

The White House, US president's residence, in Washington DC

It’s not him

The incongruence between DJT’s place in the White House and his level of communication (enthusiastic schoolboy) proves that he did not get there by merit of his ideas or solutions alone. Let us remember he is result of a large group of Americans who have lost a lot in reality and even more in their imagined mythical version of 1950’s America. Their frustration at the inability of any political party to do anything for them, to listen to them or to understand them is why they voted against politics and why we are here today.

Labels

The most frequent diagnosis of DJT I heard whilst in New York was “Psychopath”. A couple of Facebook posts have supplied compelling arguments for a label of Narcissistic Personality Disorder – Upgraded this week to Malignant Narcissist by one leading psychiatrist.

My issues with labels are that they excuse behaviours. They dissociate the conscious person and the decisions they make from accountability. To take the cultural community view of helping someone with difficulties is not a promising start for the next 4 years – as that person has the nuclear codes.

Macchiavelli

The author of the Prince – the ultimate cynical leader’s handbook would have advised sweeping away the old guard and launching a Blitzkrieg of radical policies that will have everyone reeling in their seats. Job done. The acting Attorney General is on her way and the Ambassadors around the world are packing up too and the intellectuals are failing to process the torrent of proposals leaving the White House.

Statue of Niccolo Macchiavelli in Florence

Niccolò Macchiavelli – The Cynic’s Guide to Leadership

Let us side step the shock and awe phase, get over our feelings of outrage and insult and attempt to be consequent.

Protest

Meeting and talking with the Marchers was the highlight of the trip – The atmosphere was one of an optimistic and loving community validating and celebrating the existence of a vast collection of people with healthy values and a positive spirit. Values based more on love and less on fear.

More on the problem with protest in a moment (1.7 million people in the UK signed a petition this week to reverse the Queen of England’s invitation to DJT for a State visit to the UK with golden carriages, full military honours and the rolling out of the great and the good of Blighty to put in a show for the new leader of the free world.)

Racism

DJT’s bizarre Black History Month breakfast was an historical denial on a grand scale as well as being a denial of DJT’s own baggage. His spinning of the contribution of African Americans – that their hard work laid down the foundations of modern America missed the point by many a mile. They were enslaved.

The point here is that there is no dialogue to be had. No numbers, facts, logic or reason will work against someone with zero interest in empowering the oppressed or curbing the dominance of the dominant. No argument will succeed. This is beyond debate, dialogue and exchange.

Conflict

From the perspective of Conflict Theory, we have moved passed dialogue and beyond cold conflict and are heading towards bipolar antipathy where exchanges are no longer listened to, reason has been thrown out of the window by both parties and negative emotions are triggered by simply seeing the other side or hearing their voice.

There is only one advantage to the HOT conflict phase – it gets dealt with – passive aggression can rumble on for years but when the furniture begins to fly then action is not far behind.

What is to be done?

Classical work on conflict suggests a starting point where energy is spent and attention is focused on the most leveraged areas where change is achievable and victories can be attained.

The post-election wounds are now healing and some brave commentators have uttered the bitter and necessary truth. The educated group who waged intellectual battle have missed the key point – it is not the content of the campaign, it is not the content of new policy – it is the cultural cause of our current situation that must be addressed.

We must give up the right to be right. We must come down from the hill of moral superiority – nothing will be heard from that altitude. It is about acting locally and moving beyond the facts (in Post-Truth America, facts are soooo last year.)

It is about new norms – America gets it political opinions from Netflix, Amazon Prime and Fox News. It is about creating stories, of creating characters with values that mean something. It is about starting an exciting narrative through the medium of drama / faction / story telling. That is the way, over time to tackle the fear that is driving the current political agenda and to move the majority toward a position of hope again.

Travel Ban

Shopping

A tragic example of this fear is the travel ban – with no statistics to back it up an overnight moratorium came in banning Muslims travelling to the US from the 7 Middle Eastern countries – The point is this – The move has the approval of the majority of Americans. They have swallowed it whole. They have heard the messages of fear and most currently choose to believe them. It is not true, but for them in this instance, action beats inaction – This myth provides a little comfort for them in dark times where their own personal reality seems so bleak and unending.

(The ban has been reversed by the courts and is being appealed now by DJT.)

Comment form Milton J. Bennett – Hello Mathew. Writing from the US, where I’ve been since Jan. 20., I’d like to comment on the purpose of the “psychopath” label regarding President Trump. People I have spoken with post shock are seriously considering two things: 1) how to keep the embers of a progressive agenda glowing during what will be a concerted move to the right (beyond the mandate of that slim electoral college win), and 2) how to mitigate the diplomatic credibility damage that is already being done by impetuous executive action. For instance, Khamanei has just said that Trump shows the “true face” of the US. The allegation of mental instability is an attempt to separate Trump from the US image. Some people I’ve talked to who supported Trump (either actively or by inaction), hoping that he would change or that that he would be restrained by “the system,” are now joining in the labeling. The move to the right will continue, but I guess there will be increasingly serious attempts to isolate or remove Trump

 

New Intercultural Events for 2017

1.Kate Brubaker brings us the…

The RELAUNCH! Virtual Re-entry Retreat (23rd to 27th January , 2017) This is a f’ree week-long event for global adventurers who don’t want the global adventure to end once they return “home” after being abroad. You’ll feel more confident and excited about your next steps (your “Re-entry Relaunch”) after hearing and chatting with 20 expert speakers, who will share their re-entry experiences, insights, and tips in 15 (f’ree!) sessions over 5 days. Get the event schedule and reserve your seat here: http://www.RelaunchRetreat.com

5-days15-speaker

2.Roberto Ruffino announces…

AN INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON FAITH AND INTERCULTURAL DIALOGUE

Bari (Southern Italy), 31st March to 2nd April 2017

“The unspoken sacre /sacred” is the title of this international conference convened by the Intercultura Foundation, discussing the difficulty of sharing one’s own faith (or lack of faith) in intercultural relations.

Why is sacre (Sacred) such a difficult topic to address in intercultural encounters, both between believers of different faiths and between believers and agnostics or atheists?

Bari. View of the old town Bari Old Town

One reason has to do with respect and the fear of hurting other people’s sensibility. We tend to avoid any reference to the religious dimension of life because we feel that we will tread on dangerous ground, where we risk to offend other people’s feelings and touch what is untouchable for many. Historical and contemporary situations tell us that we might be right. Nonetheless this avoidance leads us into dark corners, where misunderstandings, distortions, caricature and even hostility may arise: thus intercultural encounters miss the opportunity of opening a fuller trans-cultural dialogue and deeper mutual understanding.

Our Conference will attempt to separate the different dimensions of religions: theology, liturgy, culture – and it will focus on the third one, culture, leaving aside any discussion on inter-religious dialogue. We welcome presenters and workshop leaders among academics and “experts in religions” (historians, sociologists, anthropologists and psychologists), but not among religious leaders or clergy of any faith. In Intercultura’s tradition, we also welcome mediators and volunteers working with multi-cultural and multi-religious situations.

The Intercultura Foundation has always prioritized research and projects involving youth and education. In this Conference it is imperative to clearly separate “doctrine” from “religious culture” and its influence on history, art and literature. Discussions on doctrine belong to religious institutions and their clergy. Religious culture should belong to all and we claim that it must be part of education for young people, to avoid “respect” (or rather “fear”) limiting their ability to understand and appreciate the relevant impact of the sacre on all cultures.

The current silence does not convey respect and understanding. From this Conference we expect a little enlightenment and a few suggestions as to how to turn “the unspoken sacre” into a productive dialogue.

The Conference programme and registration form are available at; www.unspokensacre.org (Early bird fees till January 15th).

robertoInterculturalist and Full Time Italian Roberto Ruffino

 

3.Ursula Brinkmann announces…

The new IRC Licensing Course   Berlin: 9th and 10th March, 2017 (Thursday & Friday)

ursula-blurbRegistration form; http://www.ibinet.nl/irccourse.pdf

Early Bird Discount ends January 15th

 

4. Adrian Pilbeam announces… Developing Intercultural Training Skills

A 5 day course  – 27th to 31st March 2017 in Bath, UK

A 5 day course for trainers wishing to develop their knowledge and skills in the intercultural training field

 

screen-shot-2017-01-04-at-12-47-28Contact Adrian directly via adrian.pilbeam@lts-training.com 

Independent Trainers – Living the Dream? Blog Post 1 by Matthew Hill

The Joy of Training

Why do trainers get up at 5AM drive for hours to train 12 executives?

If your vocation is working well for you your answer should flow naturally and with passion from your mouth – you love delegate reactions, the breakthroughs and those Eureka moments. You live to share your core material and do the very best that you can to transfer your wisdom and experience with style and substance, leaving your audience of professionals moved and transformed.

You train because you cannot imagine doing any other job and still being as happy.

But…

On a rainy Friday as you get in your plane, train or automobile knowing you will only get home at 10.30PM you reflect that not all audiences “get you”, not all towns are picture postcard pretty and that cheap training days do not have the same value as premium ones. A rose is just a rose but a training day varies from sublime to the ridiculous.

What do we want? What is our DREAM?

My wish is to find my training PURPOSE and follow a fruitful path transferring the skills and perceptual changes that I passionately believe are the MOST valuable to my audience of clever volunteer, high energy future stars.

When I am doing my best, for the best, I feel at my best and can get the very best from the audience so that we all attain our best outcomes. Simple really.

Young people in the office

Flow in the training room…

How can we make our Dreams come true?

I have put together a 13-part BLUE PRINT for independent trainers who wish to do more of what they are passionate about with participants who share that desire. I wish to help independent trainers who aim to work for a premium fee and be fully rewarded whilst living the dream.

The elements are of the BLUE PRINT are…

  1. Identity – purpose, passion and finding your “thing”
  2. Brand – reputation, and building your promise, style & delivery
  3. Ideal Customer – defining the core delegate you should be training
  4.  Marketing and Channels – having people know you, like you and trust you
  5. Social Media – repurposing your unique content in a sequence that creates a flow of business opportunities coming straight to your inbox and phone
  6. Database – the many ways to grow your “tribe” of fans
  7. Networking – conquering your nerves and getting a return from the room
  8. Product Creation – using today’s technology to turn your message into branded informational products
  9. Selling – discovering ethical trust based communication that sells in today’s busy corporate world
  10. Core delivery – upgrading your work to create raving fans and repeat engagement.
  11. Referrals – asking your “fans” to advocate you and your work to amplify your power and business flow
  12. Growth – 7 ideas that will accelerate your turnover expansion and take you to a healthy and well deserved level of wealth, freedom and control
  13. Fully Expressed You – channeling your purpose lead content, excelling at your “right work” and working with people who enable and empower you

Action

For more ideas on how establish and grow your Independent Trainer Business we invite you to join us for the Independent Trainer Consultative Selling Webinar 3 – GOING FOR GROWTH, on 5th October 2016, 6PM London time, 7PM Paris time. Register now at;

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8107589113940386817 

Further Action

Please do keep popping back to read the latest posts that describe the 13-step process. Look out for more of our power webinars that allow you plenty of opportunity for live interactions and Q&A time and join us in Lisbon in November for the ITC Consultative Selling Bootcamp to ensure that you build the 13 steps into your independent training business and allow yourself to achieve your optimum dream training lifestyle.

BLICK AUF LISSABON

Lisbon Bootcamp 20th, 21st October 2016 – See top of page for details

Reverse culture shock – the dirty little secret of repatriation by Felicia Schwartz

Where’s my driver?

The trouble with repatriation is that few expect “coming home“ to be so difficult. Of course the notion of “coming home” in itself is largely ambiguous because the place one knew before has changed during one’s expatriation as have we as people. Roaming around old stomping grounds chasing shadows is hence often more alienating an experience than confronting a new culture we consciously know will be a challenge.

Crazy Suitcase Plane

Coming home…

It does not help that the environment and companies largely ignore the returning expat’s plight. There is little in the way of readjustment programs or any consideration that the repatriate may need help fitting back into the very place they came from. Complaining about having lost the maid and driver and taking a salary cut also tends to attract “surprisingly” little sympathy.

What a blunder!

Why did I ever come back?

This stands in stark contrast to the tightknit expat communities, training programs and VIP treatment that welcome the expat upon arrival in a host country at the start of their mission.

As a result, many repatriates quickly become disgruntled and experience difficulty both in their private and professional lives. BBC capital found that in 2013, about 16% of workers left their employers within two years of a global assignment ending, while relocation experts such as Brookfield GRS and GMAC quote twice that number*. In any case, given the considerable investment in expats, any attrition would seem like a big loss in terms of ROI.

It would make sense that companies step up their efforts to support repatriates, but also give more thought to making use of the repatriate’s skills and knowledge. Of course, repatriates can also plan their own readjustment process more thoroughly:

  • Where possible, expert relocation consultants such as Brookfield GRS suggest repatriates should prepare for repatriation a good 6-9 months prior to their return. This includes planning and discussing new positions at work, living and family arrangements including schools and so on.
  • Expect the repatriation process, similar to expatriation, to extend over several stages of adjustment; the honeymoon period: “its so nice to be back in a place where the air is clean and shops are quaint, it feels like a holiday!“ to culture shock “Why are those people at work so parochial and where can I find a decent Chinese restaurant in this city?!“ to eventual adjustment “need to get a mortgage, need to sort out pension, need to plan a vacation to the Isle of Wight“ …
  • Similar to expatriation, it is crucial to adjust one’s behavior and devise a strategy for a smoother transition;
  • Refrain from starting every second sentence with “Well, in China/ Bahrain/ Rio …” while at the same time ensuring that one’s international expertise is well known and recorded across the organization.
  • Equally, avoid overloading friends and colleagues with stories of wonder and adventure in rural Guangzhou – only offer information when asked … as hard as the prospect might seem!
  • Develop and show interest in some aspect of local life; sports, music politics …and get involved in the local community. Volunteering is one meaningful way to do so.
  • Proactively ask for training if you feel any specific topics/ technologies/ skills have bypassed you while you were abroad. A mentor might also be useful.

From a psychological point of view it is primordial to achieve closure on the expatriation period and stop pining for the past or giving in to the urge of constantly comparing. Without such closure it will be difficult to successfully move onward in a familiar yet new environment which requires a great investment of positive energy!

Author Profile– **Felicia Schwartz has spent 13 years in China and is the founder of China Insight www.hitangandccc.com/china-insight a training and consultancy company helping businesses and executives adapt to cultural change and markets across China and Europe.

Felicia Schwartz

* Data Sources – Dr Katharina Lefringhausen : 23% (GMAC, 2013) to 38% (Brookfield, 2010) of repatriate employees resign from their company within the first year upon return and up to 50% leave after 2 (Brookfield, 2010) to 3 years (GMAC, 2013) upon return.

 

Synchronicity, Personal Growth and Chinese Characters by Denis Niedringhaus

What can we know?

Whenever I mention to someone that I have been studying Mandarin for over 15 years, I invariably have to field one or two unanswerable questions:

  • How many Chinese characters do you “know”?

Fotolia_68113053_XS.jpg

What do they mean by “know”?   Intimate knowledge or familiarity? Should I immediately confess that I’ve flirted with thousands? I then explain that there are many different levels of knowing ranging from: a) Simple recognition of a character within a context to; b) the ability to pronounce said character and c) the ability to write it from memory.

Still, I have to wonder what people expect in the way of an answer. Is some number supposed to display itself (odometer-like) on my forehead? Could that number fluctuate? Would it change before or after breakfast?

The other (ever so slightly annoying) question is:

  • Are you fluent yet?

Maybe the person questioning me is a runner and imagines some kind of finish line at the end of a long and arduous voyage. If the lead cyclist in the Tour de France gets to wear a yellow jersey, then am I supposed to own a jacket which advertises my “Fluent Chinese Speaker!” status?

Now I don’t meant to berate the value of certificates and diplomas which attest to one’s foreign language competency, because these achievements should unabashedly be brought to the attention of prospective employers or clients. There is, nevertheless, something to be said for learning a language for its own sake.   As a coach and a student of life, I am more interested in the process/journey more than the result/destination.

The metaphor of a traveler is particularly apt with regard to a language whose characters (be they simple pictograms or ideograms) have a story to tell. On this inward journey, I am often challenged, sometimes intrigued, by the linguistic landscape.

How and why we remember something is a source of fascination for me.   Certain Chinese characters, despite their complexity, slip almost effortlessly into my active vocabulary whereas “simpler” characters never seem to stick on the Teflon surface of my brain.   Other supposedly “friendly” character haunt and taunt me….popping up in unexpected contexts. How is it that out of thousands of different possible characters, 1 or 2 of them continually dance on the brim of my consciousness? (Please refer to my LinkedIn article or my blog on the character xiu).

Carl Gustav Jung identified this phenomenon as synchronicity….and there is a bit of that present with the study of the Chinese language. In other words, a character which repeatedly grazes our awareness does so for a reason.   The journey of language learning simultaneously encourages to interact with the outside word and engage in an inner dialogue! So why would I want to end my journey by reaching my destination?

Author Profile –

Denis NiedringhausDenis Niedringhaus is an Expatriate Coaching working in Paris around his passion – Chinese culture, business and language.

 

Trainer Resources – 6 Ice Breaker Exercises for Intercultural Trainers

Here are 6 high energy ice breaker training exercises that will work well for intercultural facilitators wishing to get a group to interact together, explore their communication styles and to promote the process of self-refection.

They are mostly light on equipment and quick to set up (the last one requires a little more effort the first time you prepare it.)

Please feel free to try them out and tell us how you get on…

  1. Helium Stickhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXI-C4jQXVk

Thanks to The Works Manager for making and showing the film.

Equipment – A tent pole or flip chart sheet rolled up diagonally for maximum length.

Ice Breaker Training Exercises

Ice Breaker Training Exercises

  1. The Ball Game https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rva3wRvpS_4

Thanks to Rhema Resource Centre for filming and showing the film.

Equipment – Juggling balls, Stopwatch.

  1. Potato Icebreakerhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PrWVqLzNywA

Thanks to Anna Sabramowicz for the demonstration and talking us through the debrief.

Equipment – Potatoes and strong drinking straws.

Originator; Ken Bellemare ‪http://www.kenbellemare.com/

  1. Blindfold Team Pen https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eajjqotwsF4

Equipment – Blindfolds, Marker Pen, Duct Tape

Sample instruction – Draw “Unity + a Smiley”

  1. The Coin Gamehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PaUzvtleCSU

Thanks to Rob Jackson at Magnovo for the talk through.

Equipment – Handful of coins handed out – one to each participant.

  1. Human Bingo / Diversity Bingo / Get to know you Bingo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uw41k-a77FQ

Thanks to Paul Holdsworth – English for Asia for making and showing the film.

Equipment – 1 A4 sheet per participant with 4 X 4 box table containing questions.

Debrief – Here the facilitator can illicit observations, thoughts and feelings from the participants.

Fun – Who enjoyed the exercise? What was enjoyable? What appealed to you most? Were there any surprises? Who did NOT enjoy it? What were the negative aspects of this game for you?

Process – What was this exercise about? What do you think the inventor was trying to achieve? How did you do it? What was the biggest obstacle? How did you overcome the biggest obstacle? What helped you to succeed? What released the energy for you.

Motivation – What did you feel at the beginning? What was the low point of the exercise for you? Do you feel you have achieved something? Would you like to do this again? Do you know anyone who would like to do this exercise? And Why?

Reflection – People approach this task in different ways – Why do you think you did it the way that you did it? Did other participants do it a different way? Why did they do it that way? What part did diversity / culture play in your different approaches?

We wish you well in trying out these icebreakers. Good luck and do feel free to share your results and stories.

Ready when you are (CULTURALLY SPEAKING)

A review of “Intercultural Readiness” written by Dr. Ursula Brinkmann and Dr. Oscar van Weerdenburg published by Palgrave MacMillan, May 2014.

Review written by Matthew Hill

 

Intercultural readiness

Intercultural readiness

Does this book constitute evidence of good teamwork, high intercultural competence and the completion of a demanding task in a diverse context? These are the questions that popped into my mind when turning though the pages.

That two people can collaborate based on many year’s work supported by a large body of data and yet manage to compress the resulting output to a tome of 197 effectively written pages may suggest positive answers to at least some of questions above.

Based on the International Readiness Check questionnaire developed by the authors, Brinkmann and van Weerdenburg, detail the premise of their work and make a bold claim – that cultural knowledge, in-group charm and good fortune are not enough to ensure the emergence of healthy diverse teams, the smooth passage of a new company in foreign lands or that a diverse team will outshine a homogeneous one.

Referencing their own cultural experiences and those from their network of associates and telling representative stories from some of the “larger than life” executives they have encountered in the last 20 years, the authors build a case for considering 4 essential cultural competencies;

  • Intercultural Sensitivity – Being mindful – cultural awareness and paying attention to signals.
  • Intercultural Communication – Active listening and adapting communication styles.
  • Building Commitment – Strengthening relationships and reconciling stakeholder needs.
  • Managing Uncertainty – Openness to cultural diversity, tolerance of ambiguity and exploring new approaches.

“Intercultural Readiness” also refers to the reconciliation work of Dr. Fons Trompanaars and moves beyond country etiquette and the dimensions of difference to include leadership, self-development and plenty of business oriented psychological research on culture, teams and diversity.

I smiled as, in a few places, the text resembled a graduate dissertation in psychology with references to a large number of organisational psychologists offering succinct summaries of their findings.

In any short book there is always the temptation to include dramatic stories that illustrate a point, offer a clever corrective intervention and, thus, support  one’s favoured model. These tend to frequently conclude with a positive outcome.

As with many psychological papers, the chosen examples seem to distill a simple answer from the chaotic cloud of international commercial reality.

Balancing this, the authors are up-front about the limits of diverse teams and how, without the management of emotion and interaction, they can easily be less effective than homogeneous ones. There are plenty of warnings included to help the young team leader find a safer path in managing their diverse teams.

Who should read this book?

If you are a tired and jaded HR partner, a habituated intercultural trainer or a coach, this book will lift your spirits with its wit, abundant references and intelligent analysis.

If you are a commercial leader with little regard for statistics you may, however, choose to skim over the more analytical parts in the second half of the work.

This book opens the door on the International Readiness rationale and helps readers to decide upon the merits of this way of thinking.

The book’s key findings are that culturally diverse teams can engender great task accomplishment but that the emotional and relational strains often deter team members from joining forces on subsequent projects. Alleviating this problem can be achieved by including team members that have a developed competence for managing uncertainly. This, it is argued, can prevent the newly formed team splitting into two or more subgroups, from which unity cannot easily emerge.

Also, ratings of personal satisfaction in diverse teams can be much lower than in the cosier environment of a homogeneous team.

With a blue print for things to watch out for within a corporation and when leading a diverse team, this book represents an approach to culture, coaching and competence that is hard to beat for pithy wisdom, peer based analysis and wide referenced sources. Its subtle depth is balanced by an enjoyably readable style.

It is enough to help you continue to believe in your diverse commercial team.

Buy Intercultural Readiness at Amazon; http://www.amazon.co.uk/Intercultural-Readiness-Competencies-Working-Multinational/dp/1137346973/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1402243074&sr=8-1&keywords=intercultural+readiness+brinkmann

The reviewer, Matthew Hill, is an author, cultural facilitator, a past president of SIETAR UK, and founder of the Intercultural Training Channel.