Tag Archives: 7 Principles of intercultural effectiveness

 In Erik Fisher and Jeff Brown’s podcast on improving your focus, I found a fascinating thought: You need to focus on your strength and “buy” others to support you in your area of weakness instead of trying to learn or even out your weaknesses. In a corporate organization, this sounds doable in a team or you might hire staff to support you. As a solopreneur, this is much harder. I think managers can learn from start-up entrepreneurs in that you can do a lot more than you think if you have the right mindset, discipline and a process for encouraging your own learning.
As we climb up or sideways on the corporate hierarchy ladder (which is still referred to as a ladder) we tend to become “subject matter experts” and we “focus” on our core skills. In most organizations this meant that we neglected a lot of our non-core skills. In our ever increasing need  for more productivity we are asked to assign certain tasks to others such as travel expense claims, accounting, making appointments, booking travel, changing data in a system and we tend to become dependent on our assistant or our team, because we frankly do not really know how to do these little tasks that fill job descriptions of personal assistants. One of my clients once admitted that he did not know how to use MS Word. That’s an issue when you want to create a paper-based resume. (And yes, even in our digitalized world these resumes are still needed.)
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When you are moving to another country you could be in a situation where you need to be a lot more self-reliant. Maybe banks have different processes in Switzerland than in the US. You might need to read different websites in order to get the information you are looking for. Maybe you have to drive on the other side of the road. Let alone learn a completely new scripture or language.
One of the problems with large organizations is that they were often built during industrialization. Most of their role profiles and processes suggest a strict division of labor. A collaboration was not really encouraged. Performance Management Systems usually focus on the weaknesses of the managers and development plans are often paper-exercises with no clear follow-up. The term “Human Resources” even suggests that people in organizations are similar to money and machines. You “invest” in them and over the years their value decreases. Paradoxically, the more time, energy and money you invest in your people, the more market value they gain.
From an individual perspective, we tend to stop investing in ourselves after graduation. Often, we feel it’s our employer’s obligation to take care of our education and our career. We get annoyed when training budgets are cut, but hardly anyone considers to take initiative and seek education outside. You can blame stress and performance pressure, but I think it is not the only reason. I think, we hinder ourselves from learning partially due to being complacent and lazy. It is so comfy in our comfort zone. Why should we leave it when we get a monthly salary and have all our needs fulfilled instantly?
If you move abroad with work your spouse might be unemployed for the first time in his or her professional life. This could trigger identity questions. For my clients, the hardest part about moving to another culture without a job is to reclaim their professional identity. Another hard part is that they face competition from professionals who are already in the job market, know the host country language and have a functioning professional network. This is not developed in a short time frame.
I encourage you to look at yourself, your strengths and your learning potential and start to work on whatever it is you need to learn in small steps. Then if you ever need to be self-reliant you have already started to build a system how to work through new challenges. Going abroad could be a good step but you can also volunteer for a social project. That would help as well.
If you need support planning your next international career step feel free to set up a 1:1 Skype meeting with me.

Here is the podcast:

 

In the series “Seven Principles of Intercultural Effectiveness” I would like to introduce you to seven way of being more effective in intercultural communication. We have covered principles 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 in previous posts. Principle 7 is called
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I speak slow and use simple language.

English is a global language. However, if we are speaking as non-native speakers to other non-native speakers there could be a lot of misunderstanding. Even if English native speakers with different accents speak to each other there are miscommunications. In order to become more effective across cultures it is important to speak slow and use simple language. There is no point in showing off your rich, academic vocabulary or your eloquence in inventing words if no one understands you. You can use your eloquence in communication addressed to native speakers but even then you want to be understood. Check in with your counterparts and make sure that your language is appropriate.

 

In this series we introduce you to the seven principles for intercultural effectiveness. You have been informed about Principles 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 in earlier posts. Principle 6 is12736872_1059869644055644_866549060_o

“I listen to my heart.”

In case of doubt I listen to my heart. Often in intercultural interactions it is hard to understand with the mind what is really going on. If you learn to listen to your heart though, you might see further and clearer. You will feel a deeper connection with people no matter what cultural background they have and no matter what their values are.

A good practice to open your heart is the active meditation by Osho. Alternatively, you could help others every day without expecting anything back.

 

In the series “Seven Principles of Intercultural Effectiveness” I would like to show you how you can reach your targets across cultures by adhering to seven principles. We have covered Principle 1, Principle 2, Principle 3 and Principle 4 in earlier posts.

Principle 5 is called

“I trust even if I had been hurt before.”

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There are many instances in intercultural communication where we might have been hurt, where our way of trusting was hurt or where our values were challenged. We could have been misled by a carpet seller or a cab driver. We could have paid too much for a service just because we don’t really understand how the culture works or how the people behave in this culture. We could have thought that people were nice to us while they just made a business deal.

This misperception has led me to a number of learnings. One of the learnings is never to tell a driver in another country to take me shopping, because I will end up buying a carpet. I also learnt to negotiate the fare price with rikshaw drivers before I get on the rikshaw.

Still, I work with the assumption that people are good and that they are just trying to provide for themselves and their families. They are not out there to kill me or take away all my possessions. I am careful when I travel but I still trust people because it has led me to interesting encounters and helped me make great connections. I am not saying you should trust blindly but at least assume positive intentions of others.

In the series “Seven Principles of Intercultural Effectiveness” I would like to show you how you can reach your targets across cultures by adhering to seven principles. We have covered Principle 1, Principle 2 and Principle 3 in earlier posts.

Principle 4 is called

“I give people a third and fourth chance.”

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One key mistake a lot of my clients make before they come to our programs is that they send applications through websites in Switzerland without having any personal connections in the company. It’s very hard to find a job in Switzerland like that. Most candidates are very unforgiving or even worse start to doubt themselves. They do not yet understand how the system works and that Swiss or German speakers tend to be hard to approach at first. That is why we often refer to their cultures as being similar to coconuts.

The truth is that multinationals hire through their websites and their own recruiters. They have an inclusive policy and every candidate gets a fair chance but these companies are global corporations and the majority of companies in Switzerland are small and medium-sized. In fact the majority of jobs are not advertised openly in Switzerland. You need to learn the ropes. You need to give people more than one chance to gain your trust and you need to be forgiving if they come across as factual or even aggressive.