Posts Tagged With: relationship

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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Cultural Consciousness Workshop, 22nd June 2013 in London

Dear All,

It is with great pleasure that we would like to announce the launch of our Cultural Consciousness workshop in London on Saturday 22nd June 2013 from 9:30 to 16:30.

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Click here to view the Flyer

Cultural Consciousness: communicate effectively across cultures

  • Do you work internationally with international clients, in intercultural teams?
  • Do you coach international leaders?

We communicate daily with people from different cultures whether it is in our work or in our private life. And sometimes we may find it hard to communicate and do business with them.

Why is that?

We are shaped by our own culture in how perceive the world and how we communicate. We all see the world through different lenses and the Cultural Consciousness workshop is here to help you identify how you perceive the world and provide you with the tools that will enable you to succeed in the global arena.

Why Cultural Consciousness?

“Real adaptation comes from within and starts with understanding who we are”

Being culturally conscious means understanding where we come from and how we see the world. Identifying who we are gives us the opportunity to open our mind to differences and thus be more open to different perspectives and ways of communicating.

This workshop will give you practical tools that will enable you to excel in international business and help reduce your stress and anxieties towards the unknown enabling you to become more comfortable around different cultures and succeed in your business or in your team.

“Amazing experience, super useful, full of practical tools,

never thought I could get so much in just one day“

(Marie Claire, expat Singapore)

The workshop will take place on Saturday 22nd June 2013 from 9:30 to 16:30 in London at the following venue:

Evolve Wellness Center

10 Kendrick Mews

SW7 3HG London (closest tube station is South Kensington)

The fee for this one day workshop will be GBP 130.

There is a special offer if you come with a colleague:  GBP 200 for two.

Book your place now as there are limited spaces – contact us at info@be-a-chameleon.com to book your space

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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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Leaving your country to live abroad – provided by our guest blogger Ozchameleon

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More than three years ago I decided to leave Europe to go and have a career change by studying a Master degree in Australia! The initial plan was to study for a year and return to Europe after. As you can imagine, like many foreigners here, I fell in love with that country, the nature, the laid back environment (not always easy but learnt a lot) and the life I created for myself!

One has to admit, that my personal journey has not always been an easy one but it has enriched me with experience, resilience and many funny stories to tell!

Before the start of my journey, whilst still in Europe, I was quite organised for a change as this time, I read about the country I was going to (Australia), made research to find out more about the culture etc. This was important for me as I did travel a lot and loved discovering new places and cultures but this time, I knew I was going to live there for a while and was very curious of this foreign land on the other side of the world, Down Under!

As an anecdote, what stuck around until now was the interesting fact a document said about Aussies: apparently, Australians often make jokes about their friends and one should not get offended if they do it to you! To be honest, this is true! One should not take one´s self too seriously as life is beautiful and simple!

Adapting to the culture – Australian Lifestyle

My first intercultural shock was the Aussie accent! Being used to the American and British one, I was just having difficulties understanding them especially when they used slang! Since, I´ve adapted myself and find it shocking when going back to England as I´m not used to hearing that accent anymore.

The other shock as a French individual was the fashion in Australia! It is an easygoing country and people live a simple and practical life but ´oh God´, the French fashion police would stop them then and now me if they saw us/me that way… To draw the picture, being a city near the beach and being quite relaxed compared to European cities, you see men in suits wearing flip-flops or like they say here ´thongs´, and business women in a smart dress wearing sneakers!!! Let me tell you that now I don´t care anymore what people think as I discovered the comfort of wearing these shoes to go to work instead of those beautiful but now painful heels that get caught in the holes in the street or on escalators when going to take the train or in a shopping centre!

Some French friends of mine can´t believe I´m actually doing that! How could I? As I tell them… power of adaptation 😉

Friendships in Australia

So I arrived in Australia and apart from the little shocks you cannot find in books, I decided to follow the lifestyle and move into a flatshare. It was an amazing experience as I met great people and managed to have a circle of friends, which since have evolved but this is life.

As such, I found the Australian culture in terms of friendship quite similar to the Americans. It is quite easy to speak to some of them but it takes a while until it actually becomes a friendship. Not knowing this, you could easily be deceived thinking you’ve established a great friendship but then at the end, you realise it took you actually two years to find out more about the individual who then starts to introduce you to their closer circle of friends and family. I must admit that the people I have encountered are in general very independent and live their life as they feel and keep it simple, which is a good balance and a cultural shock when you are not used to that but more to closer friendships.

To summarise, in order to adapt, I simply absorbed what I read, observed the human interaction in different settings to get my own understanding, analysed and replicated what felt aligned with my own self. It worked perfectly well and this is a process my family and I have gone through for as long as I have lived, which makes it pretty integrated and unconscious by now.

Other Culture shock  – at a funeral

A member of my Australian partner family unfortunately died unexpectedly. It was quite a tough experience for him in these particular circumstances.

The funeral was quickly organised and arranged by his aunts through a funeral service (all funerals are organised through here). The ceremony and cremation were done on that particular funeral home premises.

After the service, the shocking part of the story was that it was suggested by a member to go with who desired to an RSL Club (Returned and Services League); which is a place where you have a pub, a sitting area, some TVs to watch sports and a gaming room (casino and bingo room).

Coming from Europe where you usually go to church, then to a state or church cemetery and then go to a family members house or a restaurant for lunch, it was a shock to me! We did talk after the lunch with my partner and I told him about my perspective and what had shocked me. He seemed not to be that shocked as it was usual to do it the way it was done. He appreciated my concerns and did realise that indeed, different cultures and different families here in Australia did it differently but he realised that the family values and expression of emotions was quite different for him and most Australians.

For more information on any of the stories or any comments you would like to make about a similar or different experience, please feel free to leave a message J

Enjoy!

Yours,  Ozchameleon

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How to communicate effectively Online !

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Have you ever felt like you were spending time writing up an email, and when you received an answer from your counterpart a few days (if not weeks) later, you realized that what you asked for or expected was not understood ?

Well hopefully this article will help you understand online etiquette and how to communicate more effectively online. Please also feel free to share and comment if you have other tips to share with the community or if you have examples !

You can communicate online with different tools such as email, voice over IP, web conferencing and online platforms. In today´s world everything or almost everything is done via the web, we shop, we chat, we meet people, we train and we connect. There are however certain things that we need to keep in mind when we communicate online that are just as important as when we would communicate face-to-face.

Netiquette:

  • The netiquette states that when receiving an email, the response time should be no longer than 24 hours (especially if it is business related).
  • Be polite, clear, precise, straight to the point in your communication
  • Avoid using upper case writing as this would come across to the receiver of your email as SCREAMING !

Now this is the netiquette, we all know that some of these rules are followed and others are not, we cannot control when our counterpart will answer and if he answers late he surely has his/her reasons (lots of work, working on different projects, very busy). My advice would be that if you see that within a week you have not been answered your query send a gentle reminder email.

Emails

  • When we send emails we tend especially in the UK and the US to address them by using the first name of our counterpart. We have to be very careful as in certain cultures this could be perceived as very informal (for example France, Germany, Spain). Write your first email by using the last name of the person you are contacting. If you see that when the person writes you back using your first name, you can continue communicating on that basis.
  • Also good to know is that in certain cultures as for example Germany, titles are very important and are a sign of status so if the person you are writing to is a Professor or a Doctor, write Dear Pr. XXX or Dear Dr. XXX this will be highly valued.
  • Make sure that when you write your first email to a client you stay very formal, write short, precise and clear sentences, be clear in your message and what you offer, doing this will enable your client to better understand what it is you are selling or what it is you offer him/her.
  • Be patient with regards to answers, the netiquette says 24 hours however you may receive an answer days or weeks later, do not take it personally, just like you your client may be busy and have his reasons for not answering straight away.
  • When you receive an email, make sure you read it entirely and that you get the point of it, the person on the other side may get frustrated if you ask questions about what is already mentioned in his/her email, so dedicate all your attention to what is written in the mail.
  • If you then have further questions or need clarifications then write them clearly.
  • When you work in a big organisation, hierarchy may be very important, especially if you are on a big project so make sure to put your manager on CC (copy) so that if there is any problem he/she can step in.
  • If you are dealing with colleagues or clients from another culture make sure you use current vocabulary, so that they can understand what you are writing, avoid difficult words or phrases, keep it smart and simple, that is the best way to communicate effectively !

Building relationships:

Many cultures function with relationships, for example Latin America, the Middle East and Asia, so remember that it is not easy to build relationships via the web. Face-to-face connection in these cultures is important because your business partner will want to know you, what you do, and how you look like. A good tip would be to phone them or video conference with them to start building up a relationship. This is of course if your company has restricted travel budgets and you cannot meet your partner. Make sure that you keep in touch with them on a regular basis so that you can nurture the relationship.

Voice over IP and video conferencing:

Remember that English is spoken widely across the globe, however it is not necessarily the mother tongue or first language of your partner, so make sure you speak clearly, use simple words, make short sentences and get your point across as efficiently as possible. Also if you have any accents take them into account, speak slowly, articulate and avoid mumbling.

These are a few tips that could make a difference in the way you communicate, remember to be clear and precise, be patient, if you feel angry at something that has been written or said, bite your tongue or your fingers before answering as the rule number 1 is to stay polite and respectful to the person you are communicating with.

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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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OAR Model: 3 simple steps to a better adaptation

Let´s  take a small break from our Myanmar travel and focus more on how to adapt better to a new culture; whether it is when we travel, when we do business or when we relocate to a new country.

During our “Appreciating Culture” training (http://be-a-chameleon.com/culture.html) we focus on the individual/ participant´s own culture and personality. Indeed it is important for us to know who we are, where we come from and what is important to us in terms of values, beliefs and preferences. Thus the first part of the training is about understanding one´s self and one´s biases.

Understanding one´s bias can be a trigger to understanding how we tick in certain situations we are confronted to, and through the training we support participants to see beyond these biases and open their minds and views of others more. Having a bias can have a negative impact on business as it could compromise the relationship we are trying to build with our counterpart because we will focus on our assumptions about this person and his/her culture using probably stereotypes or past experiences.

What we have to remember is that we are all unique, we all see the world differently, we have different ways of doing business and we most probably have different ways of living our lives according to our value system that has been transmitted to us by our family, education, our personal preferences (personality) and to a certain extent our workplace (company culture).

We have come up with a simple three-step model that can really help individuals, companies and even teams to better adapt to one another and other cultures. This model is used in our training in the second half of the session, as it enables and empowers participants to see beyond their biases and see that working across cultures can be less stressful.

The three easy steps are:

Observe, Analyze and Replicate.

Observe is all about identifying what is happening around you. How do people interact with each other, how do the greet each other, how do they do business, what is important to them? How do they dress? do they use body language? do they stand close to one another or do they have a certain distance between them ? All these questions and observations lead to the analyze step.

Analyze is all about understanding what your observations represent for you. How comfortable would you feel according to what you have observed, what would you have to do to fit in let´s say if you are not comfortable with close proximity. How much effort will you need to make. Now the important aspect here is to not perceive the “extra step” as an effort. I said effort because this is how we think about it because it pushes our boundaries, however remember that people feel it when we do too much effort, with experience and being aware of what you do will give you more ease and you will be less stressed and anxious to meet new counterparts. The third step is replicate.

Now the third step is Replicate. The point here is not to mimic your counterpart but to take in his culture and ways of doing things to find a common ground. For example you could speak with a low voice if you are dealing with an Asian counterpart, or you could stay close to your counterpart if you are in a Latin country. We do not want you to exceed yourself – replicate to the degree you feel comfortable with and without overdoing it, as your counterpart may feel that something in your behaviour is wrong.
These three easy steps have been used by some of our trainees and have helped them reduce their stress and anxiety levels when dealing with other cultures, and with experience they have gotten better and do not feel that they stretch themselves too much.

We truly hope that these three steps will help you,

Enjoy

 

 

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