Independant Trainer Webinar – Getting Growth in 2017

What will you achieve in 2017?

We have 3 Questions for you – What are the Biggest barriers STOPPING you growing your trainer / coaching business this year? Where does it continue to go wrong? AND How can you get it right?

Group Of Young Business PeopleWill you grow in 2017?

These barriers block critical activity, necessary organisation and positive dynamism (we fall into the trap of doing stuff that PREVENTS rather than produces growth.)

  1. ACTIVITY– What did you do in 2016? Send your profile / CV out to known training providers, put up a basic (non optimized) LinkedIn profile and attended local chamber events with other service providers where you failed to engage with business decision makers? And what results did you get? – A new sub contract relationship that provided 7 training days? A two day training or 3 new coaching customers? AND – Was that enough growth for you?

With your energy invested in more proactive and interactive methods you will generate interest, passion and action – the phone will ring, live opportunities will land in your inbox and your business will grow – You will experience meaningful cash-flow, more hour’s and day’s work, a boost in your charge out rates and the choice to take or decline work, along with the self-confidence and business freedom that comes with knowing how to market and sell yourself effectively and comfortably.

  1. ORGANISATION – How was 2016? You added 74 connections on LinkedIn, collected 47 business cards and put them in your desk draw and found the physical address of 9 companies. – Did this provide the momentum you needed for your dynamic business growth in 2017?

When you know what to do and execute clever marketing and social media moves, you will gain presence, currency and relevance with actual decision makers (and- they will LIKE and RESPECT you). They will ask your advice, do as you advise and pay what you ask because they value your input and take you seriously as a coaching / training professional. AND it will have been your marketing activity that has made the difference and lead them to a positive conclusion about you and your services.

  1. DYNAMISM – How was 2016? Sitting by the phone waiting for incoming calls, checking every e mail ping and generally living on Hopium (the expensive drug that favours hope over action.)

How will 2017 be different? Will you hone your identity statement to perfection? Will you be super CLEAR about what you offer? Will you build your BRAND promise to a level where you are taken seriously? Will you know your Marketing AVATAR? Will you learn to write SUPER-COPY? Will you SEQUENCE your marketing communication to be maximally effective? Will you be ready to launch your informational attention grabbers on Social Media? Will you build a quality DATABASE with high value business contacts? Will you be networking like a HUSTLING pro? Will you master NEW SALES? Will you create a CORE MODEL that describes your offering? Will you generate enough REFERRALS to make a significant difference to your income and business growth?

AND

Will you look back on 2017 and say, “I learnt, laughed and lead my company to profitable GROWTH. What a great year?”

Join us for this 55 minute energy boosting webinar (with 10 – 15 minutes Q&A and get your business growing in 2017)

To Register click on; https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/9072445755469609986 

The webinar is on Tuesday, 21st March 2017 at 7PM Paris time, 6PM London time.

Thanks and see you there

Group of diverse designers in their modern officeWe are growing!

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

Intercultural Mediation at Work – Written by Susanne Schuler – Reviewed by Patrick Schmidt

Applicants need graciousness, benevolence and love  Mediation, as defined by Wikipedia, is a dynamic, structured, interactive process where a neutral third party assists disputing parties in resolving conflict through the use of specialized communication and negotiation techniques. A theoretical, dry … Continue reading

It’s all in the game! Gamification in intercultural work – George Simons

Ahead of George and Matthew’s event in Lisbon, Portugal –  23rd to 26th March 2017 we present a webinar with Dr. George F. Simons, creator of diversophy®

Distinguishing games and simulations, we will discuss the growing popularity of gaming and its uses in the cultural discourse of today and the different kinds of games in popular use. Topics will include classification of types of games, how and why games can be effective tools for learning as well as community building. We will discuss factors involved in choosing, creating and adapting appropriate games for your learning objectives in intercultural training. This includes insights into facilitation from set-up to debrief, how cultural differences may affect the conduct and results of game dynamics.

Dr. George Simons is the creator of the award-winning diversophy® series for developing intercultural competence now numbering over 60 games. He has designed and often delivers a three-day simulation of Working in the USA in European university business programs. Living in France, he delivers consultation, coaching, & training worldwide. Publications include: EuroDiversity, Men and Women: Partners at Work, Seven Ways to Lighten your Life, Putting Diversity to Work, and eight Cultural Detective® intercultural guides. Currently he is collaborating with organizations and individuals in developing freely distributed acculturation games for migrants and the communities that receive them, as well as training facilitators to administer game events. His articles, reviews and other publications are available at http://www.georgesimons.com

To register go to https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/3322007637342608900

simonsGeorge

Matthew’s New Year Webinar – Getting Growth in 2017

What will you achieve in 2017?

We have 3 Questions for you – What are the Biggest barriers STOPPING you growing your trainer / coaching business this year? Where does it continue to go wrong? AND How can you get it right?

Group Of Young Business PeopleWill you grow in 2017?

These barriers block critical activity, necessary organisation and positive dynamism (we fall into the trap of doing stuff that PREVENTS rather than produces growth.)

  1. ACTIVITY– What did you do in 2016? Send your profile / CV out to known training providers, put up a basic (non optimized) LinkedIn profile and attended local chamber events with other service providers where you failed to engage with business decision makers? And what results did you get? – A new sub contract relationship that provided 7 training days? A two day training or 3 new coaching customers? AND – Was that enough growth for you?

With your energy invested in more proactive and interactive methods you will generate interest, passion and action – the phone will ring, live opportunities will land in your inbox and your business will grow – You will experience meaningful cash-flow, more hour’s and day’s work, a boost in your charge out rates and the choice to take or decline work, along with the self-confidence and business freedom that comes with knowing how to market and sell yourself effectively and comfortably.

  1. ORGANISATION – How was 2016? You added 74 connections on LinkedIn, collected 47 business cards and put them in your desk draw and found the physical address of 9 companies. – Did this provide the momentum you needed for your dynamic business growth in 2017?

When you know what to do and execute clever marketing and social media moves, you will gain presence, currency and relevance with actual decision makers (and- they will LIKE and RESPECT you). They will ask your advice, do as you advise and pay what you ask because they value your input and take you seriously as a coaching / training professional. AND it will have been your marketing activity that has made the difference and lead them to a positive conclusion about you and your services.

  1. DYNAMISM – How was 2016? Sitting by the phone waiting for incoming calls, checking every e mail ping and generally living on Hopium (the expensive drug that favours hope over action.)

How will 2017 be different? Will you hone your identity statement to perfection? Will you be super CLEAR about what you offer? Will you build your BRAND promise to a level where you are taken seriously? Will you know your Marketing AVATAR? Will you learn to write SUPER-COPY? Will you SEQUENCE your marketing communication to be maximally effective? Will you be ready to launch your informational attention grabbers on Social Media? Will you build a quality DATABASE with high value business contacts? Will you be networking like a HUSTLING pro? Will you master NEW SALES? Will you create a CORE MODEL that describes your offering? Will you generate enough REFERRALS to make a significant difference to your income and business growth?

AND

Will you look back on 2017 and say, “I learnt, laughed and lead my company to profitable GROWTH. What a great year?”

Join us for this 45 minute energy boosting webinar (with 10 – 15 minutes Q&A and get your business growing in 2017)

To Register click on; https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7327277808881017091

The webinar is on Tuesday, 7th February 2017 at 7PM Paris time, 6PM London time.

Thanks and see you there

Group of diverse designers in their modern officeWe are growing!

 

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 

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.

 

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 French Paradox, Part I: “Oui…mais…”, By Anke Middelmann

“Oui…mais…”, or,”Finding the Perfect Solution”

In the early years of my teaching and training career in France, I was often confronted with comments from such as: “All the French do is talk—but there’s no action” (Anglo-Saxon, North European, Indian, Chinese); “they’ve agreed to something and then change their mind at the last minute” (German managers), “they overcomplicate everything” (British), and more general remarks that “they contradict everything”, “always disagree and complain”, “are disorganized” and “cannot be relied upon”.

Man drawing a picture of Paris

Determined to find satisfactory answers, I had to look no further than the French Enlightenment philosopher René Descartes (1596-1650). And was delighted that all the above could, in some way, be linked to his theories, specifically his anti-thèse. Eureka!

Just how does it work? One of René (“I think, therefore I am”) Descartes’ main premise is that thinking should be driven by logic and rationality. His argued that “doubt is the origin of wisdom”, and that, in seeking the Truth, “it is necessary… to doubt, as far as possible, all things”. Moreover, to find this Truth (i.e., the perfect solution), “it is important to have a Method“—known as the thèse – antithèse – synthèse.

Still today, this Cartesian “method” is applied in all situations. The starting point (thèse) is straightforward—it’s the problématique, or proposition, situation, problem, or project to be dealt with. It’s the second stage, the anti-thèse, the process of figuring out the solution, that is tricky and that confounds non-French counterparts. While the British generally come up with an objective, devise a way forward, and change course if necessary, and the Germans develop, and follow, a structured approach, the French do something entirely different.

This is where Descartes’ “doubt”, or “scepticism”, comes in. Since the anti-thèse requires that everything be questioned, the French consider all aspects of an issue by “dividing each difficulty into as many parts as is feasible and necessary to resolve it” (Descartes). It means dissecting, questioning, and possibly rejecting, all angles, knowledge and facts; it is important to decide not necessarily how or whether something will work, but rather why it might not, and if an existing or initial approach is indeed best. It leads to: “Yes, this might work, but…”; “What happens if we do/don’t do it this way?”; “How about this instead of that—or something else entirely?” In working through the anti-thèse, one may retain some initial elements, but discard others, inject new facts, develop new possible approaches, and subsequently review everything (thereby repeating the whole process!) to ultimately agree (often at the last minute) on the solution—the synthèse!

To onlookers, this contradictory back-and-forth thinking process, changing minds and plans, especially at the last minute, the lack of action until a solution is considered finite, the seemingly critical oui…mais, is time-wasting, exhausting and unnecessary intellectual acrobatics. However, to the French, not leaving any stone unturned implies doing a sloppy job. As one Frenchman observed: “We cannot work otherwise, even if, in the end, we go back to our first idea.” Although complex, complicated, contradictory and seemingly disorganised, the “Cartesian Method” can be highly creative and has made France a technologically and scientifically innovative power house: the high-speed TGV train, the Ariane space rocket, Minitel (a Videotex online system that predated the internet by several decades), the Eiffel Tower, the morning-after pill, to name just a few, are all innovations achieved through the Cartesian approach.

How to practically deal with the anti-thèse on a daily basis? Understanding goes a long way: international students and managers say that just knowing that everything will take longer, involve discussion and difference of opinion, makes things less frustrating; a German manager said he now sits back, patiently observing the commotion of the anti-thèse, and reorganising his time accordingly. Non-French university teachers adjust class content to give students more time to discuss their ideas. Others are delighted that their French counterparts’ frequent oui…mais is nothing personal. And yet others see the process as a worthwhile exercise to hone their own observational and thinking skills, and to develop new ways of seeing the same issue.

I’m not saying it’s easy to adapt; just like the process itself, it takes time, patience, and mental agility. Personally, I’ve learned to listen for the oui—without the mais—to know we’re ready to go.

Anke Middelmann was born and raised in Germany, the United Kingdom and Belgium. She spent most of her working life in Belgium, the United Kingdom, and the United States, before moving to France in 2004.

anke middlemann Anke Middelmann – intercultural trainer and coach

She is Lecturer in Multicultural Management at Skema Business School, and Director of two of Skema’s International MSc Programmes.

As an intercultural trainer and coach, she provides training and coaching on a range of multicultural and intercultural issues. She regularly provides training on “Living and Working in France” and the complexities of Franco-German working for Air Liquide, Eurosport, AXA, Valéo, Bayer, Areva, Thales, Adeo Services, Dassault, among others.