Posts Tagged With: understanding

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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Culture Shock after Brexit Decision

This week-end, after the results of Brexit, must have been a very difficult week-end for a lot of People, and I would like to share not only what I went through but what some of my fellow European and pro Remain British friends may have gone through too.

I am Intercutural Consultant and I help expatriate and global managers adapt to their new environment. By helping them adapt we always mention the Culture Shock curve that has five stages: Excitement, Denial & Depression, Culture Shock, Acceptance and Acculturation. The last time I went through the Culture Shock curve was when I moved to Singapore 10 years ago !

Over the course of this week-end I went through the first two phases and am heading towards culture shock.

The excitement Phase was before the Referendum results, I think most of us were positive that the UK would vote remain and thus demonstrate that we are a strong Europe and that Europeans are part of the British folk. When the results came down on friday morning, and I woke up at 5:30am to see the results, I couldn´t believe that Brexit had passed, I was in complete denial, I just couldn´t wrap my head around it although I had a feeling that it might happen but again my excitement at the time was stronger. I accepted in a  way the decision of the British public as I live in their Country and I need to accept their wishes but trust me I still felt a bit out-of-place especially going out for dinner in the evening. The atmosphere felt colder than usual, but then I just put that on the account of my own projections.

The rest of the week-end was the depression phase, waking up in tears not knowing what the future will bring, especially working as a freelance Consultant and delivering Trainings to mostly European expats as to how to integrate in the UK, so that was a big shock ! What will I do ? I thought I would spend the rest of my life here, I have friends which are now my Family, I have a home that I bought, i have a car, what will that mean? What does the future hold?

I also had a few talks over the week-end with a few Young British People and asked them what they thought of Brexit and a lot were shocked and angry. They said they were “Europeans” and not British citizens, what will happen for their future and their kid´s future? They won´t have the opportunity to have work experience abroad, travel, learn languages and go abroad to train themselves, so Overall a big shock.

When I spoke to European friends and colleagues most felt betrayed, stabbed in the back, not welcomed and are also fearing for their future.

We all know that nothing major will happen over the next two years and that as Europeans we will be able to stay, what will be the conditions after though? I think the acceptance phase after the shock is that one way or another if there are no Jobs, I/ we will have to move back to Europe, and I think this is what our culture shock is about, leaving a beautiful country, our friends, our lives.

For now however we need to wait and see and try to get out of the shock phase to get on with our lives.

I would love for fellow colleagues, Europeans or British citizens to share their view and how they coped with the Brexit decision.

Best

Nadege Welsch

Be-a-chameleon

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Mentoring a young professional

About a year ago I was made aware by a friend of mine that a charity was looking for Mentors.

I had never been a Mentor before and was interested in learning more about what the charity was doing and how I could be of help. 2nd Chance (2ndchanceuk.org) is a charity that offers young people who haven´t had had the chance to study or succeed in life, and between the ages of 18 and 24 to get back up and start their career. The aim of the Mentoring was to help a young person succeed in the workplace but also keep their job. I was sold and couldn´t wait to start my journey.

I met with my mentee, a very interetsing young lady who was very different from me, at first I thought that it was a funny match as I am more of a reserved person, quiet, observing and my mentee was louder, extraverted and active. But I thought, ok if they have matched us it´s that there is a reason. So we met the first time within the premises of 2nd Chance and were provided; as Mentor; with a program, support sheet, to help us create a bond with our mentee.

After the offcial meet i scheduled another meet with my mentee, we went a bit back and forth with it, lack of time on her side, or maybe was it lack of interest? I didn´t know at the time 🙂 After a few back and forth we finally met and i decided to listen to what she had to say and just be there for her, what was she expecting from me, what did she need and what did she want to take out of the mentorship.

What came out was that she didn´t want a mentor, she didn´t want someone who would kind of control or make sure she does the right thing, actually she said she felt pushed to have a mentor. So I accepted her perspective and we started talking about her life, her and what her aspirations were and how she could achieve her goals.

After that session we met again and again and again, the moral of the story though is that she needed to be heard, she needed to get her private life sorted, have someone to hear her, give her advice, someone with positive outlooks, there for her when she needed and today I can say that I am extremely proud of what she has achieved. She has her life sorted, or at least what can be sorted out, she has a job since 6 months which she has kept and she is very inspiring !

She is very strong, and she has shown me resilience, shown me that if you want you can do it, she was flexible, she listened and most of all, she made it ! I hope she keeps being so positive and so good at what she does, she opened my eyes and taught me that when there is a will there is a way, and that even if you had a bad start in life, you can still make it when surrounded and supported by the right people !

I enjoyed the Mentoring so much that I signed up for another year and another mentee !

I would recommend this journey, if you are based in London, do check 2nd Chance out, you could make a difference and learn a lot about yourself but also learn from these young people.

I am very grateful to them.

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The concept of multiculturation

 

When you first move to another country as an expatriate or an immigrant, you start your international journey by being “ethnocentric”. What we mean by that is that until now, you only have had experience with people from your own culture and with colleagues or friends from other cultures, so you tend to perceive things according to your own cultural values and beliefs.

Once you reach your new destination, you start discovering that the culture in which you are now is different, and you go through many different stages, there are 7 stages.

The first stage is ethnocentricity, so we see things according to our own values and beliefs, but we are in a new country and we start recognizing that there are differences. This is the second stage we go through, awareness that things are different in our new destination and that the culture we now live in has different values.

The third stage leads us to understanding, we have now spent a few months in our new country and have surrounded ourselves with locals and have discovered many things about how to communicate with them and about the local culture, so we are in the understanding phase.

Sometimes you may experience that some of the cultural values of your host country do not meet yours, this is perfectly normal, it is a period of adaptation and understanding and this phase is called acceptance that there are differences between both cultures.

Once you accept the differences between your culture and your host culture you enter the appreciation phase. This phase is about recognizing that certain aspects of the new culture are appealing to you. For example, I have had clients that told me that after 6 months in the UK, they really appreciated the order and the fact that people were not very loud and that when they got back to their home Country it annoyed them. So there are many things that one can appreciate from another culture.

The next stage is the selective adoptation, so after a while you will take some of the new cultural values into your own values, it could be little things such as more order or Organisation in your life, a collectivistic approach to your colleagues and the people around (caring about each other and watching out for each other). I like to think that everywhere we go we take something away with us, we always keep a little piece of the country we have lived in with us.

And the last stage of course is multiculturation, where you feel that your values are a mix of your own culture and the cultures you have lived in and you feel like you belong to the world, and would be confortable anywhere in the world.

 

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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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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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Where is respect today ?

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Have you ever taken the bus, tube, train or plane and asked yourself why people were pushing you around and talking loudly on the telephone ? Unfortunately, these situations do not only take place in these circumstances but take place in every aspect of our lives ! The tradition or value of respecting others is unfortunately fading away, the trend today is to think of one´s self and not others, whether it s when you travel or when you are at work, you have colleagues, or bosses that will do anything in their power to keep you from moving forward. This is not only based on respect, it is based on the search for achieving a higher purpose, however at which cost ?

We live in a world that grows very fast, we learn to live as a community, respect elderly people, the hierarchy and learn how to live and communicate with people from different cultures and backgrounds. I have chosen to give an example of the workplace as i have spoken to many young professionals in the past months to understand how the marketplace was and understand how these young individuals succeed in the workplace.

I have thus spoken to many graduates and post graduates that have started working and their fear is that they do not see how they can succeed in their job as their bosses keep them on a tight rope and do not wish for them to take on projects on their own. Of course, when you start a new job, there is a learning phase, where you need to be tutored and taught the ropes, however it is 6 months to a year later that these young people do not know how to talk to their bosses and show that they want to succeed and climb the hierarchical ladder. Some say that because their bosses are afraid that they may take their place they are mobbed or kept to the strict minimum of independence and others say that they feel the need to look for another job because they do not see potential for growth in the company they work for.

Of course these are examples which are negative, however these negative examples also show that unfortunately the impact this treatment has is the word of mouth that the companies these young individuals work for are not good, and we know that if there is no satisfaction, the impact is much stronger and people speak more about it. This doesn´t only happen in the workplace, it happens also in the recruiting process where young professionals feel rejected or not taken seriously when they do not get any response from the companies they have applied for. Of course we know that there are lots of applicants for jobs, these young professionals are aware of this and also have a good feedback or memory of companies that have taken the time to write to them saying that they were not considered or that they were being kept in the database should any other jobs come up.

These little things make a big difference, young professionals feel like they mean something, and they will speak highly of companies that have given them feedback, which on the long run will have a very good impact on the company image.

I clustered these examples, travel and workplace as respect because it seems like the concept of living in a community is being lost, we only care about ourselves and do not see the impact we have on others and what this may cause on the long run. These are easy steps to take, show people that you are interested in them, that you value their opinion, their professionalism; show when you take the train or the bus or the plane that you are concerned about the welfare of others and keep your communication to a minimum or if you have to talk then use a lower tone, people will appreciate it. Last but not all, respecting others in every aspect of your life will bring positive things to you, recognition, people may look up to you and keeping your word will become a part of who you are.

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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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