Posts Tagged With: curiosity

2016 – A short review

The year of 2016 has been a year full of surprises ! Good one but also bad ones!

I would like to have a thought for those we have lost this year, they have brought us joy and happiness, have been great examples for me and will be dearly missed. That was one of the worst part of my year 2016, but as we say, life goes one, and we need to deal with grief and move on.

2016 was also very surprising, Britain has voted to leave th EU and follow through with Brexit, Donal Trump was elected the president of the United States of America, and the conflict in Syria doesn´t seem to come to an end and many civilians, especially children are dying. All of us have been shocked, there is no doubt about it, and have dealt with these events in their own way. Racism has risen quite strongly as well unfortunately, for those of us living in the UK but also throughout the world, it felt like a betrayal, but at the end of the day, we are living in the UK and even if we believe it is not the right thing to do, to leave the EU, we accept the decision of our hosts and will make sure that we continue to contribute to the UK economy.

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 One thing which is clear is that all of this is pointing to a much bigger problem, acceptance of one another, respect of one another and problems on a much larger scale.

I don´t know if some of you have felt the same, but work has been more scarce this year, already it started declining when the announcement of the referendum here in the UK was made, but it seems that globally, we are going through a tough phase. There are always tough phases, and that is what enables us to think outside of the box, look at things from a different perspective, reflect ! I took the opportunity to do a course in nutrition for example to help coach people to live a healthier life, this kind of follows what I do as a whole, helping people adapt, live a purposeful life and a happy life wherever they are in the world.

I am positive that 2017 will bring new ventures, projects and will be richer in projects than 2016 was, hopefully cultural consciousness will become a topic of interest to all, and most importantly in politics, at work and in daily life. And hopefully we won´t lose loved ones too, we know it is part of life but that is a very tough one.

So to resume, a not so great year, finishing on a positive though, and looking ahead to a new year where people will take interest in one another, resolve conflicts and hopefully more cultural consciousness and acceptance in the world. 2017 will be about building bridges !

Thank you and wishing you all a lovely holiday,

Please share you reflections with us.

 

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Travel, a way to reconnect with yourself

After a long wait, I have finally found the time to travel back to South East Asia and Australia to visit friends and family. I really missed traveling, that said when one works it is not always easy to take time out and venture on such a long trip, but this year was about reconnecting, so Singapore and Australia here I come.

On my way to Australia I stopped for a few days in Singapore. I used to live there for about a year and a half 8 years ago, and my goodness does the city change. It is so fascinating when you come back to identify the changes, observe the people and walk through the streets you used to walk through with fresh eyes and new perspectives.

I wasn´t in Singapore for long so I could not visit everyone but one thing which is always fantastic for me and so close to my heart is to meet up with my great local friends that always take time out to spend time with me and continue teaching me about Singaporean culture. I cannot thank them enough for this, and to be honest it is such a treat and honour, I really hope some of you have such great friends that never cease to teach you about their culture !

My Singapore stop was thus reconnecting with friends, with my previous life here and to be honest I really felt like a Singaporean, there is something about having lived in a city that makes you a part of it, such a wonderful feeling. My two days in Singapore were done and I was now flying to Sydney where my sister was waiting for me.

I stayed in Sydney and surroundings for about two weeks and a half, and in these two weeks and a half I ventured out every day with my camera under my arm to discover new areas, new sites and new perspectives. I had been in Australia in 1999 and in 2009 and everytime I go back i always feel this positive energy from nature and being so close to the ocean. Very invigorating and resourcing. This time around I was privileged to be invited in my sister´s boyfriend family´s house, i got to spend two days in an Australian home and it was amazing. I learned more about the culture, about the family dynamics but also how people perceive life and that again provided me with new perspectives and ways of looking at life and the world which is very important for my learning but also teaching in the intercultural field.

After my two weeks and a half away i felt re-energised, revitalized and full of new ideas which I hope I can share with my clients, colleagues, friends and family.

The moral of this story is that traveling does open up our minds more and even if you have lived or visited a place before, you always find and discover something new when you come back and your roots and belonging to that one culture you left a few years back continues to grow when you come back and resync with your past experiences.

PS.: If you like the pictures you see they are available on: http://chameleonpictures.zenfolio.com/  – you can find more pictures of other destinations under all photographs: http://chameleonpictures.zenfolio.com/f583482853

And if you need any support as an expatriate, repatriate or global nomad, feel free to contact us: http://www.be-a-chameleon.com, thank you

 

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Working in a multi-cultural team

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Working in multi-cultural Teams whether face to face or virtually is becoming a given today. Indeed, through globalisation and relocation of businesses across the globe we are faced with the reality that the person we are likely to work with in our team will be from a different culture.

But what does that entail ?

As you can imagine there are advantages as well as disadvantages. Remember that we see the world through our own cultural lens, and the person working alongside us may see it from his/ her cultural lens, so this may mean that these two views may differ. If we look at it as a disadvantage this would mean that there would be miscommunication between the different parties, different expectations and different understandings of status/ hierarchy which could lead the Team to underperform. On the other hand if we look at it from a positive side, i.e. as an advantage it would mean that bringing these different views together would give a bigger picture and thus more solutions to a problem and thus more creativity. Hence a higher performance.

But how do we get team members to work well together ?

To get team members to work well, these should understand that they come from different cultures and have different views and expectations, Another important issue here is language as well;  although we all speak English, we may actually not understand each other because of accents or vocabulary that we use, and examples could be that a member of a team is perceived as rude because he/ she is crude in what he/ she says. But this may be due to the lack of vocabulary or because he/she is not as comfortable with his/ her English as you may be! It is the same with humour, although humour is used to relax atmosphere it can be perceived as offensive by someone else if they do not understand sarcasm or your joke and vice-versa.

So when working face to face with colleagues from a different culture always listen actively, if you do not understand what they mean or say just ask for clarifications, if you feel that you are treated in a certain way, raise the issue and discuss it to not let frustration disturb the team dynamic; and from time to time get together and talk about each other´s cultures to understand one another better !

When you work virtually, the difference will be when you work with relationship based cultures such as Asian or Latin cultures. Today we communicate a lot by phone and Skype, but sometimes it is easier for us to just pick up the phone and call our colleagues at the other end of the world. Now experience has shown that for relationship based cultures, phone calls are not enough to build a relationship amongst team members. To build trust and relationships, it is best to use Skype or Video conferencing which will create a face to face relationship and probably enhance the team performance. Just try it out and see how powerful it can be and how quick it can change the relationships between team members and thus increase performance and bond within the team.

Also do feel free to contact us to know more or if you have tips to share, please do comment !

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How to have a successful expatriation

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Being told that you are going to be relocated to a new country may not be easy especially if you were not expecting it !

By training expatriates coming to the UK, I have seen that many were happy but also many entered the UK already with a culture shock ! Why is that ?

The problem with relocations is that we either get hooked on them and look forward to moving to the next place after 3 years or we can get attached to the current country we are in and do not wish to leave.

In the latter case, so if we settled well in the country we are currently in, enjoy the culture and the country it feels alarming to move to a new one. We have to go through the process once again, we need to settle in, learn about the  new culture, leave our friends and family behind once again, and we are getting a little tired. This is one side of the culture shock we may be going through. Another aspect of the culture would be that we have already been in the new country and have experienced very bad things there which have stuck to our minds and hinder us from moving in a positive light ! This happens to some of us, and it is not a good state to be in as we shut ourselves down, duck our heads and just wait for the next assignment to come !

How do we deal with these issues if we are already in culture shock when we arrive to our new country ?

The best is to start afresh, bad experiences happen, and sometimes they are lessons life throw´s at us, we just need to see past them, and perceive them as a lesson rather than a constant which will happen again. The best is to reflect on what happened previously or why it is one is in shock ! If you are in shock because you didn´t want to move, make sure you surround yourself with positive people as these people will show you the beautiful side of your new location and will lift up your spirits ! Because if you surround yourself with people who think the same way then your culture shock will most probably last the entire duration of your assignment and make your life miserable !

So the point is, when in shock, try to identify why it is that you are in that state:  if it is because of a bad experience, try to study this experience and put it into perspective. Once you have identified what is causing your shock, try to see what you could do to reduce it ! Meet new people, surround yourself with positive people, talk to your colleagues, your family, find a coach or a trainer with whom you can discuss it !

Once you have overcome this stage, you will be ready for an exiting time in your assignment, you will enjoy life more, your work and your new country !

Once last thing would be to keep fit, find a routine so that your mind doesn´t wonder off too much, as the mind is our worst enemy in culture shock cases !

 

All the best of luck, and if you need any help, or have examples, feel free to share or contact us !

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Being culturally aware is not only about others but also about ourself !

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When working internationally, managers and organizations focus on their business partners and clients. What are their needs, their demands, and how can these be met ?

Meeting the customer´s demand and providing excellent customer service is of utmost importance in today´s global and competitive business world.

Being aware of cultural differences through leading intercultural teams, working with business partners from other countries and doing business on a global scale is of the essence. Many organizations are aware of the need to be culturally aware, however do they take the right steps to achieve this awareness ?

Many businesses and mostly SMEs fail on the international scene as they lack the know how and awareness, training their managers and leaders would be a strategic advantage that could secure them further business abroad.

Business failure starts already with the communication: how do the managers communicate with their business partners and customers ? Then it is about customs: what is important for my customer ? Relationship or business ? How do I introduce myself ? How do I speak about business if we are at a social event ? How should I interact ? What kind of question may I ask ?

And when working in intercultural teams: how do I need to communicate with my fellow team members ? What is acceptable behaviour ? How do I provide feedback to my colleagues ? How can I bring my team to work more harmoniously to increase its performance ?

As we can see all these questions are about behaviour and how we should behave towards others. When doing business internationally it is of course the most important thing and this is what is taught in cultural awareness trainings: how to do business internationally.

An aspect which we, at be-a-chameleon, take into consideration, is the individual taking the cultural awareness training (which we call Cultural Consciousness). Additionally to providing him/her with know how about how to adapt and communicate better across cultures, we look at how he/she perceives these changes and tools and how these affect him/her. In our training we make sure that you learn to adapt without changing who you are, we give you tools and know how, however before that we seek to understand how you perceive the world and what your values and beliefs are because we are aware that certain situations may bring you out of your comfort zone. So understanding what your comfort zone is, we can help you go beyond it and make sure that in your next intercultural experiences you will be more comfortable and confident.

We will be providing a Cultural Consciousness training mid-June 2013 in London, please feel free to contact us for further details at info@be-a-chameleon.com, and watch this space as we will post more information this month.

 

 

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What is being culturally aware ?

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Being culturally aware is the capacity to switch from one way of seeing the world to another.

It is the capability to understand what is going on around us in a business or team meeting, understanding that differences are there and that the way I see the world may be different from the way my counterpart may see it.

To become culturally aware there are three steps which we reflect in our new training which will come out in 2013 (Cultural Consciousness). The three steps are as follows:

1. Knowing who you are and where you come from

Knowing who you are, including your personality type and where you come from, i.e. your cultural background, is the first step to pinpointing the way you see the world. Once you understand what is important to you in terms of values and beliefs and what your biases are, hence what triggers you and what makes you react in a way that may compromise a business deal or team work, enables you to see past your biases and values because you are consciously aware that these are the points that may affect your behaviour.

2. Being open to differences

Being conscious of who you are and where you come from now gives you the opportunity to reflect on differences. How do people see the world? What is their perception of time, how do they communicate, what would trigger them to refuse to do business with me ? Throughout your business and personal life you will come across people from different walks of life that will see the world differently and the best thing to do when meeting these people is taking notes about what is different about them: what makes them tick, what are their preferences, what are their values and beliefs, how do they make business? This second step is very important as it will emphasize your ability to analyse what is happening around you and embrace differences.

3. Learn from those who are different

As mentioned in point 2, taking notes of differences that you come across can be a valuable exercise especially since it will give you the power to switch from one way of thinking/ seeing the world to another. You will feel more at ease in different situations and your stress and anxiety levels will drop significantly giving you the opportunity to work across cultures and communicate well with people from different cultures.

These three points are the important points we focus on in our training as being aware of who you are, others are different from you and embracing differences will be a long-term investment (training wise but also personally) as it will take you on a journey of self-reflection and self discovery.

Do feel free to contact us if you would like to find out more on our Cultural Consciousness training which will start beginning of 2013.

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The 5 stages of expatriation

When we are given the opportunity by our company to move abroad we go through phases of accommodation to our new role. Now some companies provide you with support and others don´t.  It is a little bit different when we decide ourselves to move abroad for a better life and work experience, however the phases we go through are slightly different as we will be more stressed about it as we take a leap into the unknown.

This article will focus on those who are expatriated by their companies, and another article will be written for those who go on their own.

You have worked for a few years in the headquarter of your company or in the branch of your company which is located in your home country and after x years your boss tells you that you will be relocated to another country. Elisabeth Kübler Ross writes about the 5 stages of grief (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance) when we lose someone dear to us. In the intercultural field it si a little different however we still go through different phases which are as follows:

1. Happiness

The first time we here we will be relocated we think positively about it, indeed we get to move somewhere else, hopefully where it is sunny, and we have a role with more responsibilities which is great for our career. We start gathering information about the new country, speak about it to all are friends and family and look forward to this new opportunity !

2. Doubt

Is it really happening, am I really going to move away from the ones i love ! I know this country is great and that it is good for my career however how will it be, will I feel good over there, will I have nice colleagues ? All these questions start to pop up in our head a few days or weeks before we are due to leave for our new assignment. Some companies offer their expatriates a first glance of the new country by sending them overseas for a few days to have a look at the new environment and speak to their new colleagues which soothes this feeling a bit. Others do not offer this and that is were some expatriates might feel even more doubtful about this new experience because they are jumping head first into something they don´t know ! This phase will last until you touch down in the new country.

3. Curiosity

You are now in your new home, new country with your new colleagues, the first month will be about settling, finding a home, getting to know your colleagues, discovering the new city and all of this is quite exciting.

Where it splits is after the first or second month, there are two ways we can react:

4.a. Adaptation

You have spent a lot of time going out, exploring the city, getting to know your colleagues, meeting local people and you feel comforted and at home. You are now in the adaptation phase, it is all about understanding what and who is around you.

4.b Depression

You have satisfied your curiosity however you don´t feel good about it and you start questioning everything you see and the way people work around you. You don´t feel comfortable living and working here so unfortunately you fall into depression because you miss your friends and family. This usually happens when we omit to meet with local people to integrate or understand the local culture better. We all react differently to such an experience that is what makes us human !

5. Acceptance and integration

For those of you who have adapted well you finally accept that this is your new home and that you will spend a few years here. You have found new friends, created a network and have colleagues you work well with. For those that went through the depression phase it might be tricky, there are those who stay but whose performance is not very good due to them feeling uncomfortable, and there are those who decide to leave the assignment and return to their countries.

Most expatriation or at least 50% of expatriates fail and return early to their home country because they had problems adapting or integrating to the new culture. There is nothing bad about it, probably they would have needed help which we can provide for example to adapt better to their new host country.

Many of us think that asking for help may be a sign of weakness however in many intercultural texts you will find that the best results in expatriation comes from those who have been helped with the adaptation. Not all of us need help that is true !

Conclusion is that yes some of us may or may not need help however when provided with training/ briefing or coaching before leaving for a new country can accelerate the process of integration.

 

 

 

 

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