Monthly Archives: April 2016
aggressionWhen your colleague Paul tells you he has get home at 6 pm to see his children he throws in that your boss asked for a report she needs to have on her desk at 7 AM tomorrow. You cringe and call your partner to tell him you will need another 30 minutes to finalize the report. Your stomach feels hot and red. You are angry. Your colleague manages to get away. Why does he not have a deliverable here? Why is this team effort on your shoulders now? You think you could test if the boss was serious about 7 AM but you know you won’t get away with it.
[tweetthis]You know your anger will not change anything but on your way home you are close to tears.[/tweetthis]
Another messed up night. Your partner will be angry too now. You strip out of your suit as soon as you get home. On nights like this after leaving the battle ground you just want to have a glass of wine and a bath. Your partner rattles with the car keys. It is his gym night. Dinner needs to be cooked, the kids want a story and your inner household monster tells you to clean up the wardrobe. At 10 pm when your partner gets home you just want to go to bed. You almost had a bottle of wine by now.
The next morning, you protect your feelings through professionalism. You meditate and go for a run to keep up a smile. You wear a mask. You put on your business persona together with your pin-striped business suit and when you ask your boss if the report was ok, she just shrugs
“I had other priorities this morning. Team meeting at 10. Will you book a room for us?”.
“Isn’t that Paul’s task?”
“Yes, but he got caught up at kindergarden and will only get here at 9.45 AM. Be a good colleague and get us some pretzels too.”
You smile your best smile and help out again. While men seem to handle office politics better, I often notice that women prefer to stay out of roles where they have to deal with conflicts all the time. If you are in a leadership role – no matter if you are male or female – you won’t stay out of the firing lines. Doing favors might be easy, but verbal and written attacks will be part of your day.
[tweetthis]#Aggressive behavior is integral to hierarchical #work environments. We want to learn to reduce it. [/tweetthis]
You might feel you are giving more than you should, you might even feel that some of your colleagues advance faster than you, make more money and aren’t even better at what they do than you are. The good news is: You don’t have to accept aggressive behavior at the workplace.

Five methods to reduce aggressive behavior at the workplace

1) Reduce Your Aggressive Tonality

You could be seen as aggressive by others. If you solve conflicts on your managerial level by escalating issues to the next level, this could be seen as conflict avoiding and aggressive. Maybe your intention is to highlight a flaw in the process or that the team is understaffed. Still, the effect could be different than what you intend.
You might underestimate your native language and cultural assumptions too. If you are for example a native Russian speaker you could come across as unfriendly and aggressive in English without intending it. Or if you are a native French speaker you might come across as long-winded and complicated in English. It is good to ask a native-speaker friend how they see you and what you could improve in your communication style.

2) Stop Giving Unsolicited Feedback

You might also be seen as passive aggressive as you feel the need to correct others and give them unsolicited feedback. I had a colleague who would do that. I know now, that he was just trying to help me to become more assertive but at the time it drove me crazy. The basic rule is that you only give feedback and tips if your colleagues explicitly ask you for it. If you are the boss you probably need to give advice but be sure that you tell your subordinate that. Otherwise they will feel scolded and like back in high school. Since I started a business it happened to me more than once that listeners in an audience wanted to help me “sell” my services better or gave me feedback on word plays they would not understand. I understand the intention but I would have remembered them in a different light if they had just asked me about my intentions before babbling their ideas out.

3) Become a Listener

With the current average attention span of 90 seconds your colleagues will love you if you manage to listen to them for a full length of a three minute story without interrupting. If you practice to be authentic and a compassionate listener you will be seen as a source of inspiration and wisdom. Try to understand where your colleague or manager stands at the moment, which issues they have to solve and maybe also what they are going through in their personal lives.

4) Communicate your Needs

In business conversations it is helpful to speak about your needs and expectations in the I-form. “I need quite space to be able to think…” instead of “Could you shut up please?”. Or “I expect you keep the deadline for your deliverables as you promised to help me on this report.” instead of “Once again, you have not delivered what you said you would in time.”

5) Improve your business relationships

As I mentioned several times in the “Seven Principles for Intercultural Effectiveness” improving your business relationships   is the key to success in this globalized world. Work on every single relationship that is important to you and become a giver. You will be rewarded with success and long-term friendships across the globe.
Even if we have become used to it in our hierarchical work cultures we can all work towards a more appreciative communication culture. I recommend you learn about Marshall B. Rosenberg’s concept of non-violent communication and read Adam M. Grant’s book “Give and Take” too. Let me know if these five methods worked for you and what you have experienced.
Schedule a meeting with me to discuss your career situation and any issues you face at work.

Have you been in Switzerland for more than a year and not found a job yet?

We now offer a group coaching for the HireMe! Program.

Based on your individual targets you will have a chance to
– improve your online presence on LinkedIn
– accelerate your networking efforts and learn professional blind-dating
– prepare for interviews through business storytelling
– deepen your understanding of your personal values and how they relate to target companies
– learn to set yourself weekly targets, build a structure for your job search and pace your efforts in a healthy manner
– pitch in elevators and increase your presence.

What other clients have said is that they
– are better prepared for tackling the job market,
– are more self-confident
– finally got why networking is the key success factor
– felt empowered
– had fun when working with me.

I am not guaranteeing that you will find a job but I promise that you will benefit from this program. You have no reason to trust me so you might want to speak confidentially to one of my former clients. I am happy to share your contact details.

As always our terms and conditions apply. If you read them you will see that GPT offers a money-back guarantee. So far, we never had complaints but it might be helpful for you to know.

Logistics:

  • You kick off your career coaching with a 1:1 goal setting session with Angie Weinberger.
  • Meetings will be held five times and last for two hours.
  • Bonus: Participants get a free .pdf copy of “The Global Career Workbook”.
  • Participants: Four (exactly).
  • Prerequisites: German course started.
  • Valid residence permit in Switzerland.

Language:

English, but we have an interest in a German-speaking group. Please let me know which one would be more interesting for you. We can switch interview practice into German as well.

French-speakers please contact me for 1:1 sessions.

Fee:

The fee is CHF 800 + VAT.

Deadline:

Groups will start in the week of 23 May 2016.

Deadline for submission of required documents and payment of invoice is 15 May 2016. Schedule your first session with Angie Weinberger now to discuss your individual targets.

Resources:

The Global Career Workbook will be used as a guide through the program. We recommend further career books within the book.

 


seen in Germany
An example of German Humor – “Sucker – Alles bis XXL” .

I used to turn to Twitter for inspiration. I hardly ever use Google for a search. XING was my first social media affair, but Twitter is my true love. I am a short form texter and a friend of saying it in five bullets. I have returned to write posts in long form, 300 words minimum (and not only because of SEO but because it feels right). I had underestimated the challenge of being German and here is a how I got over it so I could become a better blogger.

 

Having been in the middle of my career around 2005, I think I missed the whole era of blogs coming up. I had too much to read already and I did not really understand the point of blogs. I thought of them as diaries not valuable sources of information. When I started to write in one of my XING groups it was to “inform” rather than to engage or entertain and once I was told that it was too much to read.
The way I wrote for a long time was the way I had learnt to write emails as an HR professional: Concise, factual and directive. I think, I still write concise and directive but I am moving away from the factual style. I have a hard time being funny. I wonder why that is. I realized it must have two reasons: 1) I am German and 2) I worry too much.
Apart from the obvious influence of my passport culture and mother tongue which is a limitation of English vocabulary and sometimes errors in grammar, I think the German education and university system got in my way when I wrote blog posts. We learned to base our statements on deep analysis. In blogging that is not necessary because you can write about your view of the world. I only understood this difference a few weeks ago. I don’t have to be “objective” in my writing. Readers want to hear what I have to say, not four consulting companies.
As a German (I am stereotyping now) I can’t be funny in a professional context. I take myself way too serious most of the time. I wish I could give a lighter note to my writing but I find it hard. Sylvia Day, a comedian and improv coach told me once “Don’t try to be funny.” So, I guess my only chance to make you laugh is by showing you the naked reality of our multicultural, globalized life. Maybe you read a story here and think “This is how I cheat myself as well.” For example when I write in my diary “Walk” and then I use the free time as a buffer to perfect my tweeting skills.
We assume that our published words are an expression of our analysis and experience with a subject matter. If I make a false assumption or draw a false conclusion, then that could reflect negatively on my work. I am often worried that I could be called out for superficiality. Not really hitting the nerve of the topic like in high school when you thought you failed the assignment as you did not really get what the teacher asked you to do only to hear him quoting you in front of the class as (OMG) your assignment stood out with originality and spirit.
In an attempt to make my blog more interesting I introduced movies as a theme. I love movies so why should I not refer to them in my work. You might love movies too. Make sure you enter “Darth Vader” in the search box or “James Bond” or “Iranian movies”. (Did you know that there is a Japanese movie festival in Zurich?)
I am also getting more bold at saying what I think needs to be said. That boldness might take a bit of uncomfortableness but it is very liberating. When you make helping others your profession you need to sit in their brain. When you write a cover letter I want you to hear me telling you that you break the task down in several steps and that you refrain from copying and pasting. When you network with a purpose I want you to hear that it is not about you but about helping the other person succeed or overcome a problem. And when you are asked about your salary expectations I want you to hear “Say the numbers.” This is what I would like to achieve with my work. That you reach your goals, that your work feels more rewarding and that you have a challenging growth experience on your international assignment.
That does not mean that we can’t have fun at the same time. So tell me all of your ideas how I could make you laugh.
On a “normal” work day I plan an appointment for relationship building and I prefer to do this in person. I have become so accustomed to have instant access to a map and train time table that usually I don’t check where I am going until I sit in the train. Switzerland has perfected the train system. They are usually very reliable and on time. People get irritated here when the train is 5 minutes late. (Ha!)
Yesterday was different though. I had planned to go for a walk but it turned into a mini-walk to the recycling bin. In the afternoon I headed to my appointment. All seemed on time. In the train I found a connection and not for the first time the connection did not take me where I wanted to go but somewhere in the realm of the area. I got off, wished I had time to stroll in the mountains and snow-covered woods but I was running late already. According to my phone I should reach in 22 minutes. Then my batteries died. I hardly remembered the address. I was annoyed, ready to turn around, sick of these endless times where I felt I was going the extra mile even for a volunteering job. I found a bakery on the way, asked for directions. They had no clue. Then I found the street, but not the house. Because I checked all but one.
Strange how we humans can err. Finally (now about 25 minutes late) a young man offered to check the website of the organization I was looking for and yes, I was next door to it. I killed my anger and laughed. There was a lesson to be learnt here. For a long time I did not seek help from so many people. I found it strange that I asked people for the way and I must have come across a lot more desperate than necessary. The meeting was inspiring and I went back with a sense of doing the right thing, with a sense of having met two ladies who are aligned with my values and with whom it will be inspirational to work.
Then on my way back I noticed that I was in an area of the city that I hardly knew. I liked it and it seemed like a place I would feel at home in. It made me think that Zurich is so diverse but if you stay in the expat bubble you could easily forget there is a less affluent part of town which also reminds me more of the area I lived in when I was in Frankfurt. I know…it is not always about outer change…but sometimes your inner change has caught up and your lifestyle might not seem to fit with your values anymore.
I want to downgrade, I want to live without a car, I want to adhere to the Swiss value of modesty. I realize that I have a choice. On my way back I got delayed again because of an accident. Poor soul, a person probably died. I only saw the last cleaning up work but the fact that the road had been blocked for several hours indicated tragedy. Again, I walked for 15 minutes. I noticed in the session afterwards that even though I was a bit flustered my brain was stimulated and energy level higher. I’ve had this weird feeling since the year started that I was not working hard enough but looking at new social entrepreneurs I learnt that I probably just entered a new phase in the start-up cycle.
It is now time to pivot, adapt and optimize. We aren’t going uphill any longer it is a leisurely stroll on the mountain range, the sun shines, snow covers the view and once in a while there will be storm. It is time to let go of the old dusted image, the status symbols of a management career and embrace a simple yet heart-filled and wonderful life. I am filled with gratitude.