Author Archives: Angie Weinberger
TCK

A natural consequence of the international professional, accelerated in recent years through increased globalisation and advances in Global Mobility, is the rise of Third Culture Kids, or, children who have grown up in cultures that weren’t the passport cultures of their parents. This term originated through the work of American sociologist Dr. Ruth Hill Useem in the 1960s. You can read more about her legacy here.

Given that the term has been around for so long, some of these children have now grown up and are referred to as ATCK (Adult Third Culture Kid). Therefore, it is important that their unique experiences and those of current TCKs are recognized and better understood, as they will be shaping the future. I’d like to do just that.

TCKs Have an Expanded Understanding of the World

Research has clearly demonstrated that TCKs are more tolerant of other people, their beliefs and cultures because of their broader world views. This allows them to build relationships with all cultural backgrounds, which makes them great international assets as professionals. However, They Can Suffer From Identity Crises

A person’s self-esteem and identity is intrinsically linked to their attachment to the social constructs of culture, the sense of belonging that comes from such an attachment can often be lacking in TCKs, given that they are uprooted from their origin culture at a young age and thus they can become culturally “homeless” if their transition into the new culture is not smooth.

Often, the reverse can happen as well, with the TCK adjusting smoothly to the new culture but becoming alien to the original one. This fear is something expat parents frequently bring up with me and I always suggest that parents try to maintain a link between their children and the culture of their homeland. A great way to do that is through books, particularly those that spark the imagination of inquisitive young children. In fact, Cukibo has a range of delightful and enchanting books geared specifically for expat children that will help them learn and remember what makes their home culture so wonderful. Do read more about this series, it is called Journey to Another Homeland.

TCK’s Identity Issues Lead to  Difficulties

These identity issues, at such a critical time of psychological development, can lead to further problems down the road for TCKs. They have trouble adjusting to adult life as the feeling of not having roots like those with cultural “stability” can lead to frustration and a further loss of self-esteem. Their values can be compromised as well, particularly if the home and expat cultures have complementary cultures.

TCKs Develop Excellent Intercultural Competence

That is solely due to how the Global Mobility has changed in recent decades. Previously, most expats moved once, overseas, and built a life there. That is no longer the case, with expats moving multiple times and bonding with more and more diverse people. It is not uncommon for TCKs now to belong to 3 or more cultures, and as part of their upbringing they develop the capacity to function effectively across national, ethnic, and organizational cultures.

TCKs Also Boost Global Mobility

Surveys have shown that TCKs retain a desire to travel and move once they reach adulthood. Their professionals careers, consequently, have a focus on international travel and mobility. The influx of these ATCKs into professional spheres is pushing greater mobility and emphasis on the international aspects of their development: multilingualism, high cultural intelligence and sensitivity.

There is no denying that TCKs face the kind of challenges that non-expat children do and by overcoming those challenges, they grow up into the kind of three-dimensional and evolved professionals and human beings that are slowly ushering the world into a new era of globalism and open-mindedness.

Schools are also taking the TCK’s into account more and more. You can read more about how international recruiters can solve the family education and support internationally mobile families here.

An Expert Interview by Sara Micacchioni

Prof. Tamara Pawluk is specialized in cognitive diversity and inclusion. She has collaborated with teams designing Diversity and Inclusion campaigns and training teams to leverage diversity potential. Her professional goal is to contribute to any organization where diversity is seen as a key factor to achieve competitive advantages. Interestingly, she also works as Project Manager for Diego Romero Music to support her husband in bringing Argentinian and Latin American music into the European market. 

In early September I  met her in her apartment in Berlin to get inspired by what she does. 

Who is Tamara Pawluk in a nutshell? 

I am an interculturalist by profession and by mindset. I like working with people from different cultural

Headshot
Prof. Tamara Pawluk

backgrounds, I am a curious person and I like to listen to stories. I have the feeling that everyone has a story to tell and that even when they think it’s not interesting, I always find it fascinating. I mean, we’re all protagonists of our lives after all.
I also love learning, not only from books and manuals but especially from people. I love to be amazed by what others do in their professions and act as a connecting bridge between them. 

I’ve been teaching at college for six years. I love doing classes and helping people develop their talent and discovering their potential together. Currently I am mostly dedicated to webinars but I keep teaching within the startup I work for, Expertlead

I am  a very family-oriented person too and love spending time at home with my husband and my friends, playing cards or board games, watching Netflix…or going outside to practice roller skating (and failing miserably) 😉 

Can you tell us a bit more about Expertlead and your projects there? 


Our core business is trying to build a solid network of freelancers. However, we do this in a very human-centric way i.e. guiding them through a professional self-discovery journey and helping them plan their career development. We mostly work with IT professionals: front-end and back-end developers, mobile developers, software development engineers, architects, project managers, designers and data scientists. We try to understand what exactly each of them brings to the table and only then we do the matching. We don’t just feel responsible for ensuring that they get paid for their job, but we also worry that they are performing tasks that they really enjoy.  Besides that, we also do webinars on professional branding, CV improvement, train the trainers, stakeholder management, and soft skills training. 

As the head of freelancer management, I strive to help freelancers be the best versions of themselves.

One of the Diversity and Inclusion projects we’ve just launched is our blog series “Freelancing Women in Tech” about which I am really enthusiastic. We interview female freelancers within the network and discover together their success stories and obstacles they encounter in the IT field as women. 

You can have a look at the blog and at our recent articles where we interview a female iOS developer and a female software engineer

There is a lot of potential in IT when it comes to D&I and we’re trying to get in touch with other associations that might be connected to a wide and diverse talent pool. For example, we’d like to partner with associations for refugees that promote IT educational programs and other initiatives of this kind. If you are one of them, don’t hesitate to get in touch! 

Would you like to share with our readers the learning and career path that brought you to the position you so passionately hold now? 

Well, there are a couple of relevant episodes that really marked my professional development. The first was at the age of 15 when I got into an exchange program with people from around various parts of the world. Thanks to this, I got to spend lots of time with people from Tunisia, South Africa, Russia, you name it. Even if I was “just” a teenager, I was amazed by how much you can learn just by actually allowing yourself to be open to everything. That’s basically how I start to learn from people and about people. This marked me so much that it led me to choose my next degree, a BA in Intercultural Management. 

What other salient events happened next? 

Then I had the opportunity to work as a ghost in a haunted mansion at the famous Disney World Park in Orlando 😉 You might wonder what this has to do with what I do currently but…

There I had a conversation with a colleague of mine that really made me start reflecting about a reality I hadn’t been faced with much until then. And so I started getting curious about the topic of diversity and more in particular about gender and sexual orientation and the role that this plays in identity. This was such an eye-opener that I decided to make Diversity and Inclusion the focus of my PhD, creating a fusion with the topic of Intercultural Management.

Finally, the last piece of the puzzle fell into place when I met my husband who is a musician. I want to contextualize this: my parents are doctors and when I entered the field of Social Sciences they thought this was already weird. But what they accepted even less easily was me having a musician as my boyfriend. During this phase, I realised how important the role played by professional identity is in our lives. Now they love him as well as his music.

And so I landed in cognitive diversity, i.e. valuing people for the different ideas that they bring at the table and the different experiences they had in life. This brought me to Talent Management and to Berlin, where I currently live. 

I can really say that being part of an amazing team at Expertlead really enables me to bring together all the different aspects of culture identity in which I am a specialist.

What are the major challenges that you face in your industry? 

When it comes to Talent Management, unconscious bias for me is the main obstacle. Too often, I find that  people very easily allow their own prejudices and pre-formed opinions to shape the situation they’re faced with as well as the idea of the person they have in front. The issue with unconscious bias is that in a few seconds, you’ve made up your mind and from that moment you don’t allow yourself to be wrong anymore. 

But we need to change this and learn to admit that we can be wrong about the first impression. We need to learn to get rid of our assumptions, become better listeners and let the new information come in. This is especially important when you work with diversity.

This is interesting. How do you help people raise awareness about their own issues with unconscious bias?

When I encounter new clients, I always start with the most simple biases. I avoid talking about biases linked to gender, race, sexual orientation etc from the very beginning because they might make it difficult for people to let their barriers down.

I’d like you to run this small social experiment. Next time you’re in a group, just try to draw three boxes on a paper and ask three volunteers in front of you to write three words about diversity on the sheet. What happened? 

I can bet that now all boxes contain a word. But have you actually ever asked them to write the words inside the boxes? If you followed my instructions carefully, you did not. 

Yet, if you try to ask people to explain the reasons why they wrote words inside the boxes, you’ll see that they will struggle a lot finding the answers. And this is what a bias is about: thinking/doing something automatically and without second thoughts.

I tried this each semester for six years, and not in a single group was there a volunteer who did this differently.

That’s brilliant and quite an eye-opener.

Now, what education would you recommend to somebody who would like to embark on a career similar to yours?

Well, I’d start by saying that when you deal with jobs around Intercultural and Talent Management, I think it’s really important to find a good mentor. Follow someone in the field to whom you can relate professionally and let yourself be inspired by what they do. It’s not an easy-to-answer question because we, professionals in the intercultural field, very often have a different background. 

Definitely, here in Europe there are a lot of academic courses you can decide from if you want to study this at university, and having studied in Argentina where options are really limited, I don’t know even half of them. 

I am pretty confident when I say that the field of diversity allows for different career paths and allows you as well to find your own professional identity.

Certificates might open a gate or two but they won’t drive your internal need to make a change. It’s relatively easy to obtain certifications, but the most challenging and most important is finding the inner spark inside. Only this will make you thrive. 

What’s your recipe for success? 

Be yourself and be authentic to who you are. You’re never going to be happy trying to pretend to be someone you’re not. One of my mottos, and this is borrowed from a teacher, is 

“Never stay where you don’t want to be.”

Considering that you probably spend half your existence at work. My tip is, if you have the privilege of deciding where you work, choose well where you want to spend your time.

Is there a final thought you’d like to share with our readers? 

You might not be able to change the world, but if you manage to change only one person, you’ve changed a world.

If you want to be in touch with Prof. Tamara Pawluk you can connect on LinkedIn or write to her on Facebook. You can also subscribe to her Youtube channel.

Tamara is also busy writing her book on Diversity Management which she’ll publish in 2021. Stay tuned! 

About Sara Micacchioni

Sara
Sara Micacchioni

Sara Micacchioni is currently working as Academic Intern at Global People Transitions, where she is responsible for research and quality assurance projects. At the beginning of 2020, she graduated from an international English-taught master degree in Intercultural Management at the University of Burgundy, France. In the past, she also carried out several short-term and long-term voluntary work projects in Europe and South America.

Sara lived, studied, and worked in seven European countries and speaks four foreign languages. She considers herself an interculturalist with a real passion for globetrotting. In her mission to travel the world, she has now ticked off 30 countries globally.

Connect with Sara on LinkedIn if you want to talk about Diversity and Inclusion, Intersectionality, Cultural Intelligence (CQ), Bilingualism, Digital Learning, Immigration or Low-Cost Travels.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/sara-micacchioni/

An Expert Interview by Sara Micacchioni

Csaba Toth is the author of the book Uncommon Sense in Unusual Times (2020), the founder of ICQ Global and the developer of the multi award-winning Global DISC™. I met him virtually at his place in Brighton that almost incidentally became his new home 16 years ago. Let’s discover together what he does in life and what his approach to interculturality is.

Author's Headshot
Csaba Toth – Author of Uncommon Sense in Unusual Times

If you were to give a pitch of Csaba Toth, how would you best describe him professionally? 

I will be very concise here: I teach uncommon sense. It is a mindset that allows people to see the same situation from different perspectives so they can make better decisions and they can choose to respond instead of just reacting so they can get the best possible outcome. 

In fact, when looking at cultural and personal differences, at the end of the day we’re dealing primarily with clashes of common sense. If you look at it in that way, the whole topic also becomes much more flexible and humane, instead of reducing it to a binary system where one must be right and the other must be wrong. Or where both are fighting in order to have their truth validated although both just hold their tiny version of the truth. 

Let’s move onto what was your journey. In your book you talk quite in detail about how you got to where you are now, but would you mind summarizing your career path for all our readers?

I used to love learning a lot (and I still do). Initially, I didn’t have clarity on where I wanted to get, so I studied Italian and obtained a master’s degree in Italian linguistics – an uncommon and unusual choice for someone who doesn’t know what to do in life (author’s note). As soon as I finished I came to the UK for the summer. That was 16 years ago and I am still here. Three years after arriving, I obtained another Master’s Degree in International Management at the University of Sussex and that was a bit more practical as I specialised in Eastern and Western European joint-ventures. My dissertation was about understanding the differences between Hungarian and Western European managers. Interestingly and against traditional predictions, the data showed that the gap between the old and new generations in Hungary was much bigger than the gap between the same generation in Hungary and Western Europe. This contradicted what we were used to and often are still used to learning in academia, i.e. that culture is country-specific. 

And what happened next?

Then I started my own company. It was about a restaurant listing: someone books a table and you get the money. It grew really really fast. We started with 35 restaurants here in Brighton and one year later we had already 5,500 all over the UK. On paper, everything looked perfect, but in practice I couldn’t stand the other CEO. Not because he was French, but because there was a big clash of common sense between the two of us. That was exactly the topic of my dissertation: I ran the largest and fastest growing restaurant listing business in the UK, I had years of experience, and yet could not make it work. 

But I was really keen on understanding what went wrong and how we could fix it. The final result of all the research I did led to what is now called the Global DISC™.

What was the major learning that you took away from this experience?

Best solutions are born out of frustration and pain. 

And most of us have a choice: do you want to just stay and complain? Or do you want to take responsibility for your growth and work towards finding the best solution? I personally chose the second option. 

In your book “Uncommon Sense in Unusual Times”, which I highly recommend to all our readers, you go deep into the topic and give a lot of details about Cultural Intelligence (ICQ). In your view, what are the difficulties that you encounter most often when you need to convince clients and other stakeholders of the importance of having thoughtful conversations around Cultural Intelligence? 

Book Cover

I think that the biggest obstacle is the perception that people have about ICQ since for the majority culture automatically equals nationality. So basically, if they don’t work in an international environment, they think this is an irrelevant topic. However, if you look at the research published in Management International Review (Kirkman et al., 2016)  where they compare 17 cultural containers, culture, gender and generation were the worst three categories of culture in terms of practicality and range of differences.  It makes sense as even if you don’t choose those specific cultural groups, you learn how to conform to them and you can navigate efficiently in that environment. 

Culture is not who we are, it’s what we’re used to

When you look at the different cultural groups that you choose, like your education, profession, hobby, you’re inclined to opt for the one that matches your personal preferences, because it feels comfortable and the right place where you can put your strengths at use. That’s why, to me, to understand who you are, your profession is a way more powerful clue than your country of origin. This is the biggest obstacle, i.e. that people don’t see that we belong to twenty different cultural groups at the same time and that your national culture is just a tiny container of that.

(If you want to read more about cultural overlaps and the concept of intersectionality, we published a post on the topic). 

Can you also provide us with a more practical and concrete example of these layers of culture, Csaba? 

Sure. Take your family members. Even if you talk with someone in your family, what are the chances that the other person belongs to the same 15-20  cultural groups like you?

Less than zero. That’s why I consider every conversation a cross-cultural dialogue. 

This leads the conversation into another topic of your book that you talk about in detail, cognitive diversity. Can you please tell us more about it? 

Cognitive diversity is about the diverse ways in which people think, behave and process information. The very different values that each of us share give us different perspectives and priorities. Like I write in my book 90 percent of business is interaction between people who think and behave differently. So, even if you have a team constituted 100 percent by Italians you’ll still be able to find cognitive diversity because all these people have different values. 

Just because we learn how to conform to the same norms it doesn’t mean that we are the same. 

If you look at research (Management International Review, 2016), having smart people in a team is no guarantee of success. In fact, 79 percent of potential is generally lost due to interaction gap and clashes of common sense. That’s definitely not good for business. To me the biggest obstacle is to raise the awareness that

intercultural equals interpersonal, not just international.

There’s a topic to which you dedicate an entire chapter in your book, debunking the myths of cultural intelligence, So I’d like to dig a bit deeper there. You specifically address eight of these myths, but do you think they’re equally rooted in people and that the same myths keep being reinforced over and over? Or do you see a gradual increase of awareness?

I think that change is slowly happening. What hinders this change is the presence of many established companies that sell international trainings as if they were intercultural ones. In fact, one of the insights of my research was that more than 95 percent of companies buy and sell to people solutions created in the sixties and seventies. You’ll agree with me I guess that there’s nothing wrong with loving our grandparents but we must recognize that we have very different challenges than them. So much has changed since then, just think of the easy access to the internet and international travel. 

Why do we want our doctor to be updated with the latest research but we don’t make sure whether who develops intercultural training has our best interest at heart? To me not being updated in your field should not be allowed and I find it unethical that in some less regulated professions this seems to be optional. 

Thank you Csaba for these insights and for sharing your view with us. Let’s move onto the projects you’re currently working on. Do you want to tell us more about that? 

20 percent of the business we do is training and corporate coaching, while the other 80 percent is certifying coaches and trainers to deliver the Global DISC™ that we created. Because it doesn’t matter how good we are, alone we’re not enough. First of all, we’re smarter together and secondly, our time is limited and so is our potential. That’s why we created a licensing model and that’s why we currently have almost 100 licensed partners in 33 countries. 

We also work with higher education institutions. At the moment, eight universities teach the Global DISC™ and this is amazing to us. It means that in academia too there’s the realization that students need to be prepared with solutions for a world that is constantly changing. 

I actually wish that this topic was taught in high schools though, or starting even earlier, because I believe that it would have a huge impact in people’s life. You could better understand who you are and what you stand for. Imagine if you could even like yourself. You would not need to bully anyone to feel important or hide to feel safe. If you can accept yourself  – and this is where we talk about self-inclusion – it’s much easier to accept others. Instead of depending on external approval, what if you could focus on yourself and who you are? To me this is the super power that I would like to enable others with and it is our final goal.

What would be the benefits for someone who decided to become certified in Global DISC™? 

We want to concretely support the coaches who decide to obtain our license and therefore we offer four gigabytes of training, sales and marketing material, and a portfolio of international accredited solutions. Licensed coaches also become members of a community on an interactive platform where they obtain the support and where they can get inspiration and guidance on how to further expand their businesses. In short, they become part of an environment where they can continuously grow. And it becomes a partnership in which we and our licensed coach give and receive in equal part. 

What about the ICQ Growth Mindset course that you repropose periodically? 

Oh, that’s by far my favourite masterclass. It’s a 4×90 minutes online in-person course through which you understand the underlying root of causes  of why we lose most opportunities, time and energy: friction with people who think and behave differently and friction with ourselves (self-sabotage).   You also gain guidance on how you can achieve more with the same amount of energy and time. The insights and tools that we offer can be immediately applied on an individual and team level. What I especially love about it is the blissfully challenging and psychologically safe environment that we create altogether. This is where the magic happens. And that’s why I’d never miss facilitating this course personally. 

The next one starts on 2 November 2020 and the registration process is already open. 

Is there one last message you would like to leave our readers with? 

Just remember that we all do what we consider right based on what we consider true to get the best outcome we think we can get, but at the end of the day we have no idea what is right and true or what the exact outcome is going to be. That is why we are smarter together. 

Resources

If you want to buy Csaba’s book Uncommon Sense in Uncommon Times, click here

If you want to get more information on how to become a licensed coach of the Global DISC™ get in touch with Csaba directly. You can send him an email (csaba@icq.global) or add him on LinkedIn

If you want to sign up for the next ICQ Growth Mindset course and see what it includes, click here

Last but not least, two books that Csaba would like to recommend:

Goldsmith, M. (2016). Triggers: Creating Behavior That Lasts–becoming the Person You Want to Be. Profile Books.

Chandler, S. (2017). Reinventing Yourself: How to Become the Person You’ve Always Wanted to be. Career.

About Sara Micacchioni

Sara
Sara Micacchioni

Sara Micacchioni is about to complete her internship as an Academic Intern at Global People Transitions, where she is responsible for research and quality assurance projects. She also actively supports the Managing Director and the Social Media Manager. At the beginning of 2020, she graduated from an international English-taught master degree in Intercultural Management at the University of Burgundy, France. In the past, she also carried out several short-term and long-term voluntary work projects in Europe and South America.

Sara lived, studied, and worked in seven European countries and speaks four foreign languages. She considers herself an interculturalist with a real passion for globetrotting. In her mission to travel the world, she has now ticked off 30 countries globally.

Connect with Sara on LinkedIn if you want to talk about Diversity and Inclusion, Intersectionality, Cultural Intelligence (CQ), Bilingualism, Digital Learning, Immigration or Low-Cost Travels.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/sara-micacchioni/

An Expert Interview by Sara Micacchioni

Interviewee's headshot
Petra

Petra lives in Hamburg and if you meet her in person, you’ll probably notice one of her eighteen shades of blue. Born and raised in Germany, one of her qualities is working in-time, which means to take care of customer’s leadership needs as much as possible in the Here and Now – also and especially when it’s complex and challenging.  She is a Global Leadership Coach and with decades of experience across international Business, NGOs and engagement for Women and Black issues, she has become a specialised Transformation Synergist.


Petra’s mission now is to support GLOBAL WOMEN IN/TO LEADERSHIP. 

But how she got there is a very unconventional story. 

In Africa they say, you know people by their name. And yes, Petra’s name already tells a story.  The german part, her father’s name Sorge, had been widely seen as ‘worry’. When starting to work globally Petra used its second meaning ‘taking care of’. Because that’s what she’s used to doing i.e. taking care of others professionals’ success. After her late marriage with an Afrobrazilian she decided to make her surname a bridge between cultures and became Sorge dos Santos, ‘care of the Saints’.

Petra was a pioneer in her field and  throughout her life she developed a certain focus on learning and teaching. At 21, while she was still studying Adult’s Education she also started her career. Funnily enough, she began teaching a class made up by male ex-soldiers only. Coming from the last only female class of a girls’ high school, at university she early noticed the lack of female professors and the absence of awareness about women’s issues.

She felt tremendously the urge to fill this gap and became one of the founders of  the NGO ‘Hamburg Women’s Week’ – where 260 female experts taught 9000 women in just six days, while the only men inside the university building took care of their children. Subsequently, she founded another NGO, ‘Denk-t-räume’, a women’s center for learning and research. Since then she’s never stopped doing what she loves which is empowering women and  changing the narrative around them. Let’s remember that for as much as the gap in gender equality is still a big issue today, addressing this topic thirty years ago must have been a totally different story. 

After finishing her diploma, she went into the field of professional career training. One of her innovations was to implement coaching sessions, at a time (the late 80s) when coaching was nearly unknown in Germany.

In 1992, she had the luck to meet Michael Grinder, NLP founder John Grinder’s brother. Since he specialised in applying Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) into teaching,  she was highly motivated to deepen her understanding of Neurolearning and two years later obtained a master’s degree in NLP.

In 1986, Brazil came in and changed her life.
She travelled solo for three months which felt like diving into a fascinating new world. A world which fascinated her with her tradition of music and dance but which also challenged her ‘Germanness’.

When she went back to Germany, she became a member of the first women’s foundation. Having lly get to know in person the power and competence of purposeful female leaders from the Global South. Coming back to her country that typically only saw them as needy migrants and that still considered even German women as inferior was quite a challenge. All this finally turned into her today’s identity of Globalista and it fueled her decision to become self-employed: in 1995 she founded CL!C – Crossculture Linking and Consulting. 

Global Leaders who deal with international teams and customers especially need to understand others and the cultural differences they bring at the table.  And this is where her expertise came in: for more than fifteen years, she trained international leaders and their teams to acquire more cultural competencies. This job opened her eyes to what the difficulties in leading with diversity often are.  It also made her perceive how the majority of Western leaders, on average male and 55 years old (in Germany), carry a serious deficit of cultural intelligence (CQ). 

At the same time, she also realised that well-qualified women who grew up, studied and worked in two or more  cultures/countries are very different in this sense. They can adapt to and navigate different cultures more easily. This is one of the reasons why Petra now focuses on what she calls Global Women and their different needs in becoming successful leaders.

 
Petra’s professional life was eventful and rich in changes. After her overseas consultancy had taken her to support women not only in Brazil, but also in the Caribbean and Angola, she became inspired to work on the radio. She created Radio Triangula where she focussed on Africa-Brazil-Hamburg, played nice-to-dance music and introduced to the public global men and women engaged across cultures. Later on she also hosted a local TV program called ‘Hamburgisch by Culture’ where she regularly held biographical interviews with her Hamburg guests. Bringing diversity into the media was quite a good way to balance her other job as a trainer of German male executives.
A serious health issue finally forced her to think her career over and – like she always tells her coachees –  to start focusing on what she really wanted. And that is to make leadership become more global, diverse and female both in quantity and quality.

Her personal goal is to bring all her expertise together in one project. For her, this means she will do more than  COACHING. Her virtual learning together with her trainer background calls for what is state of the art: ONLINE LEARNING.  This is also true for her target group: women who feel home in more than one culture, who don’t only live in Hamburg or Germany and who are definitely spending part of their working/learning time online. Starting her project  in English enables her to realise her vision of CONNECTING across cultures. Thirty years ago she already connected with one another female leaders from the Global South. Now, she wants to connect women who belong to the young generations. Finally, integrating her passion for media, she will talk about her global participants and expert role models through her podcast ‘Leadership Lights’ as well as her ‘Petra Global TV’ starting as a Facebook Live. 


So for her as well as for her participants it’s about “Leading with GUTS”

Example of tagline

What are the main obstacles in the work that Petra so passionately does?

“The main problem with Global Leaders is their lack of self-awareness.” This characteristic is, in fact, often overlooked and regarded as a merely private aspect of a leader’s life. But knowing yourself and being able to lead oneself is fundamental when it comes to working with others, especially in a globalized environment. Nowadays, with the digitalization of company culture, employees need leadership with personality more than ever.

Are you also attracted by the topic of Leadership and/or do you want to become an Intercultural Trainer? 

Then Petra’s main piece of advice for you is to widen your open-mindedness and nurture your curiosity. Her personal secret to success is, whatever career you decide to embark on, go for something you really want, do not follow the path someone else paved for you.

If you’re a student, you can choose courses in Cross-Cultural Management / Intercultural Communication led by professionals from the field.
If you’re already in international business you should consider taking a professional qualification on top. Aside from that, Petra believes that only by DOING you become an actual coach and trainer.  

Finally, let’s look at Petra’s recommended books: 

  • ‘Das Rebellische Eigentum’ by Peter Martin –the rebellious property. A Study on enslaved Africans, showing their many facets of rebellion, right from the start. 
  • I love myself when I’m laughing by Zora Neale Hurston – An anthology of the intellectual and spiritual foremother of the next generation of black writers.
  • ‘Dare to Lead’ by Brené Brown – a female reframe of Leadership by a famous TED speaker who pleads for starting from vulnerability.

Petra’s whole life has formed her into the global synergist of transformation that she is today. Her breakthrough program for Global women that she is promoting at the moment is called ‘Leading with GUTS’.
While combining a global mindset-work with understanding and including others and transformation with self-Awareness, it covers three parts of online leadership learning in this sequence: 1. Leading Self 2. Global Competence 3. Leading Others
If you are interested, register for her free challenge ‘Smartly Overcoming Leadership Barriers’. If you want to start on a smaller scale her Leading Self Kickoff might be interesting for you.

Example of an Online Challenge

Do you find Petra’s story as interesting and exciting as I did? Do you want to drop her a personal message? You can contact her via email or you can visit her website or podcast Leadership Lights. Or you can listen to Radio Triangular, live stream every fourth Saturday of the month at 5 PM CET. 


In order to support this  B2C-approach she is looking for partnerships which might also extend to a B2B-trainee program inside companies. The best way to contact her is via  LinkedIn.

 

About Sara Micacchioni

Sara
Sara Micacchioni

Sara Micacchioni is currently working as Academic Intern at Global People Transitions, where she is responsible for research and quality assurance projects. At the beginning of 2020, she graduated from an international English-taught master degree in Intercultural Management at the University of Burgundy, France. In the past, she also carried out several short-term and long-term voluntary work projects in Europe and South America.

Sara lived, studied, and worked in seven European countries and speaks four foreign languages. She considers herself an interculturalist with a real passion for globetrotting. In her mission to travel the world, she has now ticked off 30 countries globally.

Connect with Sara on LinkedIn if you want to talk about Diversity and Inclusion, Intersectionality, Cultural Intelligence (CQ), Bilingualism, Digital Learning, Immigration or Low-Cost Travels.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/sara-micacchioni/


How many times do you open your inbox and find over a hundred unread emails? And how often do you “clean your inbox” just to find it overflowing with emails again the day after? One of the reasons why I get stressed around emails is that I spend a whole day in a workshop and I cannot check my emails because it would distract my mind too much. Then I check my emails after the workshop, when I am already exhausted and know that I have a lot of tasks and queries to handle. When I worked in the corporate world I would often have a day full of meetings and calls and come back to my desk at 5 or 6 PM and “started to work productively”. Or, you probably know this: it’s Friday, 4.30 PM,  you are just about to start your weekend and then you see this one email and it keeps you at your desk for another hour. Your partner in the meantime is waiting for you to help with the groceries or wants you to be home early so that you can greet your friends that are coming by for dinner. There are different reasons why our body shows stress reactions and I thought it would help to break this phenomenon down to help you deal with it.

 

If you experience high levels of stress when you find too many unread emails in your inbox, you should know that you’re not alone. In fact, the phenomenon is so widespread that it became known as inbox anxiety

Inbox Anxiety Came with Emails

 

When emails were invented in the 1970s, nobody had a clue of how radically they were going to change the way we work. In time, they have become such an ubiquitous tool that, depending on your seniority, there’s a chance that you haven’t even experienced work without emails. I personally remember the days when we did not have emails at work yet and I went through several tech upgrades since then (desktop, laptop, blackberry, smartphone). Despite more than 25 years of experience with the technology I still don’t know exactly what to do when I get certain emails. One ground rule I established early in my career was: when I am angry I don’t send a response. I wait until I feel calm again. In fact, when I then go through the same email with a fresher approach, I sometimes even notice a certain positivity that I had overlooked earlier. 

 

You might be surprised that our generation still relies so much on email but inbox anxiety doesn’t only refer to email now.

 

I have several other professional inboxes to manage as well (Facebook, WhatsApp, LinkedIn, XING, four email accounts, professional messages on FB pages, Instagram and Twitter direct messages). Sometimes, I feel like I should change my job description to “emailer”. 

 

With the Corona-crisis and the need to work from home, most of us probably worked even more with emails and messages than usual and despite the general reply-to-all rule in some organisations this is still not done so you are falling off a thread and then you have to follow up or update your colleagues in a different way.

 

In our team at GPT, we introduced Slack during the crisis. We had already failed at it in 2016 largely due to my inability to focus on too many channels so now I’m making a more concerted effort to use Slack instead of WhatsApp. I don’t really use it to replace emails but I notice it helps me write less follow up emails and also I can ask the Slack bot to remind me instead of asking our intern. 

 

I’m trying to find out where MY own inbox anxiety stems from and I hope to share this with you so you find ways to overcome this as well.

 

Switching Off and FOMO

One issue that creates inbox anxiety for me is the need to switch off completely for short and extended periods of time. Last year, I took the liberty not to be available for four weeks over the summer. Some of my email accounts were not checked while I was offline. That created stress when coming back. Same happened when I was out sick for three weeks with COVID19 this year.

There is enough research to show that you should completely switch off from work for at least two consecutive weeks each year. However, in most of your jobs it is still expected that you are available during vacation and weekends, especially during launches, emergencies, crisis and personnel related decisions.

As a matter of fact, according to a YouGov survey 60% of people check their work inboxes also during holidays. We don’t do it necessarily because we want to, but because we feel some sort of obligation to do it. The same research found that 80% of the respondents would actually prefer to “switch off completely”.

Being Responsive versus Productive

Another issue is that I would like to be responsive. It’s one of my trademarks. And there are certain limitations between being responsive and being productive. However, in order to be able to do “deep work” and to focus on quality time online with my clients I sometimes have to wait with a response until my work day is over or until I get a break. This might be only an issue when you are a small company and nobody else can cover for you. Most companies now don’t expect a response on weekends and responding within 24 hours still seems to be acceptable.

Underlying Relationship and Trust Issues

The third theme I notice has to do with email anxiety when you receive emails from certain persons. I assume that there is an underlying relationship or trust issue with this person. Maybe this person has treated you unfairly in the past or they have turned around something you wrote in an unacceptable way. Maybe they belittle you in their emails with their manager in cc or they shame you publicly. A good manager would give their feedback in more appropriate ways than emails but we know that there are a number of mediocre managers out there as well.

What is inbox anxiety and where does it come from? 

According to Ron Friedman, author and psychologist, the reason why we feel overwhelmed when we find a lot of emails in our inbox is that each message is a new demand of our time and it triggers one more decision to make. This leaves most of us with less energy for the work that matters. Another reason that could make you anxious might be the lack of clear expectations and etiquette especially in the intercultural context you live in as an expat. 

 

Also not having anybody to delegate emails to and feeling responsible for client service even when it’s not in your direct area of control could considerably make your stress level rise. In fact, studies have shown that checking email frequently leads to higher levels of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress. 

 

We feel stressed also because we don’t feel productive. As we are constantly interrupted by a “PLING” our cognitive performance is reduced resulting in an attention deficit. According to research done on the negative effects of email on productivity, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the tasks after we’ve been interrupted. Now, think of how many times they interrupt you at work and make an average calculation. It’s scary.

There is one more issue related to inbox anxiety and this is known as “email apnea.” In fact, 80% of people tend to hold their breath unnaturally when going through their emails causing a change in  their normal breathing patterns. Holding your breath can contribute to stress-related diseases because it throws off the body’s balance of oxygen, carbon dioxide and nitric oxide.

Seven Tips to Help you Take Back Control

Here are seven tips that will help you take back control of your inbox, time and productivity.

1 – Clarify the Purpose of Your Conversations

Make sure you know the communication policy and etiquette of the company where you work. This will also make clearer why and how you’re using emails and not other tools. 

2 – Build Better Relationships to the Senders and Receivers

If you don’t know the other person well, try to reciprocate their tone. You don’t want to come across as too friendly or too formal if the relationship is just at the beginning. When I communicate in German I struggle because the connotations between how you address a person are quite different depending on the cultural context. In English you can easily be far too informal and hurt somebody’s feelings. As a general rule, avoid emotions and emotional topics.

When you aren’t familiar with the sender, another good alternative is picking up the phone. If you are a millenial calling someone you don’t know might not be your preference, but I still think it’s the best way to establish first contact with someone. 

3 – Stop Escalations and Solve the Real Issue

I love to watch escalation bingo on email only when I’m not in the firing line and cc-ed but not cause of anger. I personally read too many emails that are escalated to the appropriate management level too late. We are then often reading a lot of blame-storms and cover-your-back when the real underlying relationship issue is not addressed. I’m pretty good at NOT responding and I’m often slow when it’s heated or emotional. The reason is that I often need a break from the emotions that are triggered. 

I can leave emails drafted for days only to discard them. It’s a skill I learned. Sometimes I might come across rude or negligent…It even happens that I forget an email. However, it’s often not that important or the person can find another route to talk to me. If the person knows me, they will reach out by phone, text message or just resend. 

4 – Stop flagging, sorting, deleting and trust your inner priority manager

I hear people are still flagging, filing in folders, reading and answering emails all the time although I notice that response time has become from 1 minute to 1 week to ghosting. Frankly speaking, I sometimes don’t respond to an email because I don’t feel that I have anything to say. In some cultural contexts this is a perfectly acceptable behavior, however, in some others this could come across as rude. 

5 – Limit the times you check inboxes and respond

Role model the change you would like to see in this world. If you don’t want to be bothered by emails after 7 pm, either you are powerful enough not to respond anymore or you also stop sending emails after “normal office hours”.

6 – Apply a Filter, Deactivate Notifications and Practice Writing Better Headers for Receivers

Have a policy for all your media who you accept and what kind of messages you will respond to. Instead of responding to every tweet I have now connected Twitter to Slack. I can check first if I want to respond or if it is a random tag.

I get a lot of system notifications, newsletters and promotions that I just scan but usually I only need to read the header or key words to know if it’s worth going deeper.

7 –  Track how much time you spend emailing, messaging and with whom

Try using RescueTime to track how much time you spend emailing. By doing this, you can realistically plan how you can gradually reduce the time you spend emailing. You might try to reduce by 5 to 10 percent weekly the time you spend on your inbox. One way to do this is to practice writing shorter emails. 

If you notice that you are so busy because you spend an hour sending cat videos to friends and family you might want to change that. And you might not know right away what you want to change and how. I recommend you call me for a 15-minute chat. Maybe I can give you guidance on how to reduce your inbox anxiety. A helpful program would be our RockMe! program.

Kind regards

Angie

Resources

My favourite Productivity Hacks – Seven Tips to claim back your Diary

https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/in-practice/201805/3-types-email-anxiety-and-solutions

https://www.businessinsider.fr/us/heres-why-email-makes-us-so-stressed-out-2015-2

https://happiful.com/how-to-deal-with-inbox-anxiety/

https://www.theladders.com/career-advice/the-6-rules-of-email-how-to-eliminate-email-anxiety-and-take-control-of-your-inbox

https://www.businessinsider.fr/us/email-apnea-how-email-change-breathing-2012-12

https://www.rescuetime.com/

https://blog.trello.com/work-life-boundaries-as-a-remote-worker 

References

Mark, G., Gudit, D. and Klocke, U. (2008). The cost of interrupted work: more speed and less stress. Conference Paper, DOI: 10.1145/1357054.1357072, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/221518077_The_cost_of_interrupted_work_More_speed_and_stress

Mark, G., Voida, S. & Cardello, A. (2012). A pace not dictated by electrons: An empirical study of work without email. Conference Paper, https://sites.oxy.edu/clint/physio/article/APaceNotDictatedbyElectronsAnEmpiricalStudyofWorkWithoutEmail.pdf

Waldersee, V. (2018). The majority of employees check work emails while on holiday. YouGov, https://yougov.co.uk/topics/economy/articles-reports/2018/08/15/majority-employees-check-work-emails-while-holiday