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

 

Book review: Bamboo Strong: Cultural Intelligence Secrets to Succeed in the New Global Economy by David Clive Price

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Review by Grant Hall, Founder of the League Cultural Diplomacy, International Events Management Through the telling of his immersive life experiences in a variety of different cultures and locales, David Clive Price delivers practical advice on how to develop your … Continue reading

Pride, Prejudice & Privilege in the USA

A cultural opinion piece about the US Election written by Matthew Hill

Manhattan at sunset Turn to clear vision…

When two polar opposites face off together we get – Option A – a de-escalation of tension achieved through understanding and reconciliation and, Option B – Resistance, mud slinging and an active ramping up of cold or hot conflict.

In this piece we will explore option A…

The Swinging Diversity Pendulum

The US election campaign was a war – no doubt about it. Barbs were tossed from both sides with little regard for casualties or collateral damage.

As interculturalists, we understand the concept of privilege, power and what their use can do to the “other”.

The last 8 years have seen genuine gains for diversity, engagement and inclusion. Take, for example, the Transgender agenda – from a near zero mainstream consciousness in 2008 to reality TV and the Amazon Prime award winning series, Transparent now.

Looking back (there has been a lot of looking back…) the darker side of the liberal advance was hubris – manifest in dismissive and pejorative descriptions of the “other” and here lay the seeds of their defeat.

Dismissing does not lead to disappearance

Trashing the opposition’s intelligence was never the way to go – Imagine the emotions felt if the Left to Right labels – stupid, uneducated, white working class, bigots and racists where substituted for Right to Left insults – How outraged would the intelligentsia have been?

It takes two sides to build polar opposites and thus diminish the space for dialogue.

Swing

When the media take up the cause of the “mindful”, we know that tolerance of the liberal agenda pendulum is at the top of its swing. And guess what? It is now falling the other way. Those whose privilege is seen to be under threat will not give up their status without a fight. And in the election we saw that fight. The tide of resentment, backlash and frustration from the ridiculed right is seen in support for outlandish and extreme protectionist measures.

Cultural Relativity

By claiming the moral high ground and naming the people in the White House and media as “thinking, caring and correct” – these labels made the other side collectively and relatively; “stupid, cruel and wrong”. Just as with Brexit in the UK, these shamed people feel they have genuine grievances and are attracted to more extreme solutions.

Exclusion not Inclusion

One take on the scenario is that Middle America has been abandoned by both sides and feels intense pain – lower quality low paying jobs, less money left at the end of the week and unanswered questions about how to reverse the local economic decline of the past 30 years.

Bad or Bad?

The Republicans have behaved appallingly towards Obama and with little regard towards helping the mechanism of Government itself – pursuing a spiteful agenda of zero cooperation. The Democrats have not been blameless either. They have not addressed the local issues faced by the population – low wages, sub-prime fraud, mass house foreclosures and the alienation of the squeezed middle. They have supported Big Money instead.

It is with universal disgust that Americans see Washington as Hollywood for ugly people bargaining for their own self-interest at the cost of the Nation and with no Hollywood happy ending in sight. Trump can be forgiven from thinking, “anything is better than this.” His extraordinary ability to transcend his own privilege, tax avoidance, sexual abuse scandals, serial strategic bankruptcies and contrived conspiracies against opponents to convince people that his philosophy is the best for his country, speaks volumes about the angst and frustration of a vast sway of voters.

Bald Eagle Make America Great Again?

The Dream

“Make America Great Again” – panned by the liberal elite as crass and by many minorities for whom the 1960’s and before where a long nightmare of oppression and exploitation.

The nostalgia pitch seemed to work. Harking back to the halcyon days of the 1950s;

*Vast sexy cars, modern homes crammed with labour saving consumer gadgets and obedient housewives helping the bread winner to a cocktail and having supper ready for him when he returned from a not too arduous but highly rewarded day’s work at the office.

*Smoking, whisky, employing secretaries for their looks, a marriage bar for many office roles and a good time had by (NOT) all.

*Pool parties and picnics – It was not actually the case for the majority then and certainly it is only reality for a privileged few now.

*For many – their role in this world was as the unloved support, with no choice but to accept the inequality that kept this show on the road.

(If you think nostalgia is the way to go, I have one image for you that may blur your halcyon vision of the past – 18th Century dentistry!)

Push and Pull.

If the Pull of nostalgia was a fantasy, the Push was more urgent and keenly felt. The protest was against the political insanity of Congress, the economic consequences of Globalisation, the death of regional metal bashing in America and the starkly contrasting figures – the USA has about 5% of the world’s population and accounts for about 23% of the world’s GDP. “How then”, asked 60 million Americans, “can I not afford to pay my ever-increasing health insurance premiums?”

Add to this the unpunished crimes of the sub prime housing scandal where the biggest banks were bailed out and rewarded for their immoral exploitation of US working citizens whilst the average Joe and Joanna were not helped out in any way as they experienced the burning shame of house foreclosure. This dark chapter was remembered by many.

Changing the game

For DJT to win against the tide of the media is nothing short of extraordinary. His bizarre and extreme statements gained enormous airtime. His conspiracy theories laid waste to opponents and his nationalist rhetoric resonated with the dispossessed – pushing a complete outsider to the most important job in the world.

With Facebook fake news, a departure from facts and proof (post-truth) and the wildest campaign promises seen since Hitler, the ground was set for a revolution in a country still seeing itself as a Democracy.

The real marketing miracle was for a man tide to Big Money and an address book that went right the way to the top to convince Middle America that he was one of them and would serve their desperate needs for jobs, better wages and a return to easier times. The push and pull must have spun heads.

And with a little help from the Democrats

Many commentators where offering the advice; “the lesser of two evils”. Looking back, this may not have been the MOST appetizing choice at the ballot box. It was matched in the 2002 French Presidential elections by the, “vote for the criminal, not the racist!” slogan that WORKED and got Jacque Chirac elected back as President of France.

Hilary had a ton of baggage to carry around with her on the campaign trail – a list of dubious business connections and dealings, a propensity for war and shameless connections with Big Money. And a less that world changing promise that NOTHING would change.

That and an old man sitting in a blue “court dock” behind his wife during the TV presidential debates looking on with a tired and stony face whilst the most sordid chapters of US Presidential history were dredged up again and flung about the debating hall.

We guess that Bernie Saunders made a pact with Hilary a couple of years ago to mop up the next generation and anti-Hilary liberals and hand these free thinkers over to the Hilary camp at the last minute – A cynical move too far?

What of the Future?

DJT’s Roosevelt / Keynsian infrastructure investment proposal – enormous sums of printed and borrowed money will keep the country calm for now – Nobel Prize winning , Joseph Stieglitz, points out though that the innovation and new industries that will drive US growth will be very light on labour and will fail to provide the promised vast increase in new jobs or a general improvement in the quality of living for most beyond giving them new domestic, leisure and work based gadgets to buy.

New jobs will be created. The majority, however, will be in construction and will be accompanied by minimum wages, poor working condition and little dignity – Not quite the dream of 1950s Hollywood as seen with John Ham in Madmen.

Ripples around the world

Overseas, the French Presidential election will be the first barometer of the world’s reaction to DJT. Before we saw Slovakia, Austria, Poland take a clear step to the right. Who will be next to join them?

One cent coins and Dollar banknotes Big money or local income?

Conclusion

Forget the FBI last minute e mail actions, computer voting fraud, the Popular vote and Russian interference – DJT’s rhetoric about immigration, closing borders and his promise to create jobs for regular people is what the frustrated and unheard responded to.

All that has come before has lead to the nice folks of the USA listening to these words and taking notice.

A sobering thought for all of us.

 

The Problem We Create By Being There – Consultants & Clients by Glen Burridge

The first problem is YOU – A cultural thought piece by our “foreign correspondent”, Glen Burridge

Junger Geschftsmann bei einer Prsentation Why are you here?

There is a barrier that lies at the heart of any consultant trying to transform an organisation, namely that you present an intercultural challenge by your very presence. Yes, you, as a consultant are the first problem the customer has to deal with when they bring in someone to help spur improvements in their organisation.

As a consultant, have you ever had the experience of sitting in a meeting room and, after all the niceties are done with, listening to the most senior person of the room start talking and realise they know next to nothing of why you’re there? Or, they think they know who you are, but the words they’re using are at complete odds with your perception with what you think you’re doing there?

What happens next can range from genuine curiosity – with an eye to why they weren’t briefed properly by their own people – to outright dismissive, even aggressive, behaviour. Experienced consultants will tell you that they’ve felt the full sweep of this spectrum at some time or other and, with a wry smile, it may conceal much more beneath. Even if the consultant is usually the most vulnerable person in the room, the sense of the threat that you may present can be palpable.

Don’t expect sympathy for your own precarious position.

It will be ultimately up to you to either dispel the drama or learn to work within it, since it centres on you and that disturbing vibration around maybe why you were brought you in – to shake things up. And that is the paymaster’s right.

The opposite situation is also worth considering. Where you are so seamlessly integrated in a situation that no-one knows you’re a consultant or they’re forgetting it rapidly. In this scenario, it’s entirely possible you may already know more than many of the people in the room. Remember, if you’re lucky enough to cope with working ‘sideways’, you may soon become the custodian of an entirely unique perspective, which could easily walk out of the organisation the moment you leave. So, this misconception may be something you’ll want to correct very quickly – it is the basis of your livelihood and code to maintain a professional detachment – but, if you’re well established and have a strong rapport with the commissioners of the work, you will be more relaxed and it makes the ‘sell’ of your work seem like another form of ‘internal project initiation’.

In business, we are working in the midst of an organism, some of whose processes are a source of positive wonder, some of which should be exemplary and obvious but have yet to evolve to cope with the role they’ve inherited, some of which is worn out or doing a function it was never designed for. The individual organs that drive this creature might have a long and distinguished history or they may be new and experimental. Some elements will be moving towards each other, others not even aware of what the other ones do. We can never make too many assumptions about who, where and when they can see what. Perhaps one of the defining qualities of an organisation is its opaqueness or transparency. The secret to good organisational consulting is to see enough of the machine working as a whole to do something meaningful at the scale you’ve been engaged at. If you’re lucky, you can build from there, once you gain the buy-in; this might be one level above or below, but in many ways the most interesting – although by far the more difficult – is if you can reach across.

The Client Side

Now consider the perspective of that manager from the client side for a moment.

You’ve just come from three meetings this morning already. You’re thinking that perhaps you won’t eat till 2pm, if you’re lucky, and you’ve learnt about two knotty problems and an uncertain one already this morning. Now, you find yourself on your way to a meeting your PA has kindly accepted for you but wish you could have avoided, with this new person that you’ve never met in your life. They’re not even on the email system. You know they’re something to do with a particular initiative that sounded a good idea a few months back and wasn’t backed by too much of the department’s budget anyway. But, frankly, the context is a little vague, because The Good Idea is not fleshed out yet and no-one’s quite sure if The Team should be setting the agenda or leaving it to the consultant to get on with Do Their Thing; they’re the ‘expert’ aren’t they? If only I had the time I’d sit down and sort this out myself, but we’ve got 30 mins and I’ll try and figure out what the hell we do. You know, these deep-field initiatives really should shape our world, but when can we show something tangible from them? Who but a consultant will want to make these kind of waves though?

Now, multiply that by the range of personalities found in a manager and you get the spectrum of meetings that can transpire.

If the organisation had all the answers to their problem, you wouldn’t have even been invited in the building.

So, we always need to consider that whatever wonderful bag of tricks, enthusiasm, wisdom and experience we think we bring into any organisational setting, we are the source of an out/in-group problem with all the attendant cultural dimensions that entails from the moment we step away from the Reception desk wearing our visitor’s badge.

Our first organisational problem we will have to fix is the one we create by simply being there.

About the Author – Glen Burridge

Earth Scientist, Consultant, Aviator and Intercultural Enthusiast, Glen is just down the road in Perth, Australia…

glen

What is a citizen and how do I become one? by Daphne Laing

We are all global citizens now, but what does this actually mean?

If we accept that an individual can have multiple non-opposing identities, it would logically follow that it is possible to have multiple citizenships, as indeed many of us do…yet this multiplicity seems only to mean that we can use different passports to facilitate travel from one political system to another….and has nothing to do with sharing values, rules etc. Having looked at the questions for the UK citizenship test and scored a big fat zero on history, just scraping through, I am having an(other) identity crisis…… a UK passport holder born, brought up, educated and tax paying in UK for most of my working life, having taught English, acculturation and intercultural communication for 35 years, I am somewhat surprised at the criteria for citizenship of “my” country.

multiple non-opposing identities

Memories of Communication

Multiple non-opposing identities

For the first time I ask myself “Do I want to be a citizen?” Though I feel a strong connection with my home culture and I understand that on a deep level I probably make assumptions and bear prejudices that would link me to membership of a group of “people like me”, I have long preferred to introduce myself to “others” as a European- thus avoiding the Westerner (i.e USA) or the British (i.e. football hooligan) labels. I am proud of the values which underlie the formation of and continuance of EU, and believe passionately that the institution, for all its faults, has gone a long way to building bridges, to signalling a third way of “doing things”; an alternative to purely money or military oriented politics…. And a clearly stated definition of citizenship.

Yes, I like that…….

To note the ease with which I can explain my choice of association and acknowledge the possibility of duality here may go a long way to explaining my utter bafflement at recent events; but does this also indicate that EU citizenship as a concept is doomed to be more divisive than inclusive? A Them or Us sense of belonging which by its very nature hints at republicanism?

This brings me to a third model: global citizenship, whose qualities seem to be espoused by international NGOs like Oxfam and which is defined as a quality a person demonstrates whose identity is linked more with a common humanity than with any political or other allegiance- but if citizenship means to be held to account by a system; history; shared values, how can any of us possibly call ourselves global citizens except as representing an academic intellectual stance?….

Recent developments have forced me to reflect on what it means to belong….to an organisation at odds with my personal values; to a country hurtling towards xenophobia and isolationalism……

Am I the only one to feel like le Petit Prince?

“To establish ties?”

“Just that,” said the fox. “To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world….”
― Antoine de Saint-ExupéryThe Little Prince

About the Author – Daphne Laing is a renowned education professional in the field of culture, language and citizenship.

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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.

 

Brexit Exit – It is easy to be a Critic. Less easy to stay and LEAD by Matthew Hill

Laughing through the tears…

(Reader Warning – This is a opinion piece that takes a helicopter ride over a complex subject and contains ironic humour.)

Looking back on the dramas of the last 2 weeks in the Dis-United Kingdom there are some things that have now become clearer and other things that we may never know.

Two issues – It seems that there were a multiple of issues being decided on 23rd June 2016 and not just the notion of EU trade vs World trade.

Perhaps the quietest issue was to prove the most profound – the voiceless hard working people of regional England and Wales protesting successfully against the London elite and their pursuit of personal positions of power whilst continuing to marginalise the existence of the regional population.

London, UK. Houses of Parliament in Westminster

New luxury flats in the centre of London

The disenfranchised voted and were heard. And they will NOW be ignored as a tiny minority of the country (Tory MPs and party members vote for the next Prime Minister to lead the country at this, the beginning of a 40 year negotiation marathon to divorce from the EU (whilst keeping the cleverest child – Access to the Single Economic Market), forging new trade ties with the US, China, Russia, and returning to former lovers – Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

Irony – It was the poorer parts of the country that wished to distance themselves from the EU. Despite the fact that they are the greatest beneficiaries of EU largesse when it comes to being awarded valuable Regional Development Grants.

Fisheries – We heard a lot about “loss of control of our country” – the one concrete example was UK fishing grounds (should that be water?) The depleted fishing fleet of the UK will now be able to fish more freely and… export their fish to Spain (or will they?)

Racism – The police are reporting a spike in verbal racial abuse, physical racially motivated attacks and a general increase in xenophobic rhetoric. This harks back to the extremes of the campaign and the ethnocentric chant of “Give us our country back” (from Whom and to Whom?) Scapegoating the Polish for coming over here and displacing us with their intelligence and positive work ethic seems to have found resonant favour with the mob. These visceral abusers have dulled their senses to history (we are all immigrants. Britain robbed, stole, enslaved and killed in the name of empire AND the British Government gave right of abode to the 800 million people of empire in 1931 and the right to work in the UK to 507 million people of the EU in 2004.) The sacrifice of Polish and Czech pilots during WWII is conveniently forgotten in the heat of the moment as emotions fear and stress take over.

The lies – the Leave campaign talked of a two year divorce, the £350 million a week fee to the EU now being available to fund hospitals and schools, EU having sovereignty, 60% of British laws coming from Europe, an immediate halt to immigration and that the EU would beg us to continue trading on terms of our choosing as they needed us SO MUCH.

Unfortunately none of this was true.

And the remain campaign was not above telling vast fibs in support of their cause. Their message though was undermined more by internal conflict, a complacency based on the notion that not enough people were crazy enough to want to leave and that they could continue to fight internal political battles with each other instead of devoting their time and full concentration to producing an agenda leading and honest campaign for reform from within the EU.

Corby-Nation – The most complex sub plot of the last decade surrounds the leader of the opposition – overwhelmingly elected Jeremy Corbyn suffered an assassination attempt, a coup from Tony Blairs’ faction both inside his own party and from powerful lobbying groups and Tony’s cronies populating many powerful places in the media and the outside world.

Killer

Hello Jeremy, it’s me Tony.

The Conspiracy is that – it would be better not to unite and attack the current political vacuum and provide some national alternative leadership but, instead, to destroy the Labour party thus providing a distraction from the Chilcot report on the even bigger disaster of the second Gulf War.

WMD – Widespread Ministerial Deception – The Chilcot report (after 7 years) says, in the longest and most British way possible, that the war was an all round cock up from start to finish. (Interculturalists please note the 2.6 million word report is the most low context document on earth and Sir John Chilcot’s speech the most high context one you will hear this year.)

PS – Honest Jeremy did, however, contribute to the disaster we all now face as his incorruptible stance did not allow him to give a clear boost to the remain campaign.

Onwards to the Negotiation table – In the early 1970’s we put away the history books and moved on from the past. The EEC The European Economic Community was the thing. No more mention that Britain had been at war at one time or another with just about all of the major EU players with the only exception being Greece.

From a cultural perspective, those dusty history books look like being opened up again and used against us in a court of law, during the elections in France and Germany and around the negotiation table as we sort out 27 new bilateral trading agreements.

Cultural Perspective – For interculturalists this mad moment provides an expensive and invaluable case study with rich content for your classrooms – The Brexit being an example of the dangers of Government lead patriotic rhetoric, the power of the media to spread negative country stereotypes, a case of complexity keeping reason and clarity from the masses and, the reversal of 40 years of Diversity and Inclusion practice in the workplace happening in a matter of weeks.

What’s next? – a second referendum will not happen. The exit negotiations will be delayed but will begin. The next wave of opportunists will take their places in Parliament as Prime Minister and head of the opposition. The pound will be weaker, speculative and dirty money pouring into the UK PLC will diminish (not a wholly negative thing), The economy will move into mild recession as investment and strategic corporate decisions are delayed and the regions that voted leave will begin to feel the immediate cold wind of economic downturn even before winter arrives.

PS – Scotland will leave the UK and the violence in Northern Ireland will increase.

PPS – Summer holidays will be 10% more expensive.

The End – Going Going Gone –  On behalf of the leavers – Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage, David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn – “Sorry” (They have not uttered this word themselves but we know they feel burning shame and guilt at this time.)

(Number of words in this post – 1066 – that is a British history joke.)

 

The Author Matthew Hill is currently applying for Albanian Citizenship.

Vintage Koffer - Burg, Spreewald.

The Benefits of Being a Mature Student by Maria Creisson

An optimistic Piece 

There are many reasons people decide to return to education at a later time in life. Often none of these reasons seem sound to other people and they are seldom fully understood. Why would a person opt to become financially poor, or leave a perfectly good job and why don’t older people just leave education to the young who are believed will have much more of a future after education.

Mature Student Maria Criesson

Entrepreneur and Mature Student – Maria Creisson

For me, though I can’t claim financial wealth, I had a fairly good job by some people’s standards. But for the longest time I held the feeling that I was not living up to my potential. I remember experiencing the need to express my abilities but thinking I was boxed in and limited because I did not have the appropriate academic background. I knew I could do more!

“Improvement is impossible without change”. Jon Maxwell.

I have just completed my undergraduate degree in Human Resources Management BA Hons. (I found out today as I am writing this piece – I have achieved a 1st Class Honours degree.!) I couldn’t be happier and as I write I am scrambling to remember the fears the doubts, the character, the personality of the woman I was at the start of my degree. I am a different woman today. I don’t know how best to articulate the benefits of being a mature student because I have felt them to be more profound than words can describe.

I guess the first was that for me I was old enough to claim to have some life experience. This was so useful in being able to relate to some of the academic content and put it in perspective. This experience was something I could also use to help my younger student colleagues who had only ever been in the education system and were curious about life in the ‘real world’. This helped us “mature students” develop stronger bonds with younger people rather than work separately in our own silo. Being amongst them all I also found kindred spirits and developed lifelong friends. Finally after some years I can say I have started to discover my life’s calling and that as a mature student it was enough to understand the true implications and applications of the knowledge I was gaining to better myself and fulfil my potential.

“Commit yourself to lifelong learning. The most valuable asset you will ever have is your mind and what you put into it”. Brian Tracy

I went to university and discovered myself and what I’m capable of. Whilst we all know that life itself can be an education, University is but one place you can exist as a mature student. In these modern times we now know that education in its many forms is a lifelong journey. At university or within your career, wherever you are and whatever you are doing, at whatever stage in your life as long as you are open and keep learning you will experience the benefits of your efforts in work and in living with yourself.

 

About the Author Maria Creisson – “Maria is a recent graduate of Human Resources Management and has a passion for developing people.  Her interests include training, coaching, writing and speaking”.

The Quirkier side of British Culture Part 1

WarningSome of the following is not pretty – If you are an ardent British nationalist and lacking a sense of humour, please look away now. All stories have been gathered from conversations in the training room both in the UK and abroad.

  1. Avoidance of Confrontation

The Gazpacho is warm and the rack of lamb is cold. The waiter approaches the diners and asks with a smile, “Is everything okay with your meal?” What does the Brit reply?

“Fine. Everything is lovely”

The waiter walks away, unaware of both the trouble in the kitchen and the two faced lie he has just been told. If he were to listen closely he would hear the bitter mutterings that follow. “Dreadful food. We are never coming here again!”

Brits will sometimes go to great  lengths to avoid confrontation. “It could be worse”, “mustn’t grumble” and, “at least we got a nice dessert.”

Which leads us to the most popular and ubiquitous word in the British lexicon of etiquette – “Sorry”

Sorry can mean, “I am innoculating myself against the constant rainfall of disappointment”, “You have done something wrong but it is me uttering the word sorry so as to avoid violence and carry on with my life.”

A contradictory and more assertive version is employed when sorry is used to mean, “I am apologising for the injustice or hurt that I am about to inflict upon you.

Cheerful male cafe worker is serving a customer

“Is everything OK with your meal?

  1. The Meal Deal

We have a 20-year-old lunchtime ritual in offices across the land – of queuing up to buy a flat factory made dead sandwich which is full of fat, sugar and chemicals, a tooth rotting and chemical laden bag of crisps, and a pressurized plastic bottle of sugar water with artificial colouring, all of which will definitely make you feel worse for having consuming them. All this whilst sat at your desk surfing for kitten videos on YouTube.

The truth is – it’s not a meal and it’s certainly not a deal. A cultural anthropologist or sociologists would take a look at this bizarre British ritual and relate it to another ceremony closer to home. The Meal Deal is, in fact, the fodder found at a 5-year-old child’s birthday party.

I make no attempt at a cultural excuse for the meal deal. Its success is based on the temporary chemically induced high it produces in stressed workers suffering from low self-esteem and poor job prospects. These overworked people have been tricked into consuming the modern work myth as if it were designed to be enjoyable and beneficial.

  1. The Misery Line

The population of London swells by 1000 souls every week or so. Most of them seem to commute on the Northern Underground line. This produces an etiquette maze and one or two cultural phenomena that are hard to fathom for the outsider. In days gone by the savvy commuter employed a broadsheet newspaper as a shield against eye contact, social interaction and to protect their medium-sized personal safety zone. Now necks are bent as the stressed executive watches last night’s documentary on the breakdown of civilisation on an android phone whilst trying to endure the torture of London commuting. Like the 1970’s game “Operation”, where the “surgeon” extracts plastic organs trying and not set off the buzzer, the modern commuter must desperately achieve separation from other humans – contact is NOT desired. In a cultural coaching session held recently with an Indian executive from New Delhi, he became quite upset at this avoidant behaviour saying, “I felt like an untouchable.”

London Train Tube underground station Blur people movement

“Can you move inside please?”

  1. Street Life

You could be mistaken for thinking that the main motivation for earning extra money and collecting work related bonuses was to take the middle-class family away from their town high street. The modern scene includes post-war prefabricated shopping centres, pound shops, charity shops and inflation fuelling estate agents all vying for your attention. And, the most vile of British inventions – The charity worker pestering members of the public for signatures and monthly payments to support a wide range of worthy and bizarre causes.

Having developed my presentation and communication skills to become a public speaker, I can proudly claim not to be pestered by the average Chugger – my doom laden scowl (known to make babies cry) and a refusal to engage with the Chugger’s dance ensure a clean path from the beginning to the end of the high street. I note with incredulity that most people are much nicer than me. Making up sugary and polite lies they attempt to avoid the patronising and manipulative pitch of the Chugger to maintain face all-round and continue on their way, feeling good about themselves and the world.

It is the disenfranchised, the sick and the vulnerable who don’t have the energy to escape the gravitational pull that are sucked into the black hole of the Chugger script. When next in town listen out for the word “Sorry” spoken by those caught in the Chugger web and see if you can spot the context in which it is being used.