Mixed Marriages/Partnerships/Relationships – the Reunion of Two Worlds

Mixed Marriages/Partnerships/Relationships – the Reunion of Two Worlds

Mixed marriages or interracial marriages have been the subject of a number of political and social debates. In United States, interracial marriage became legally possible in June 1967 when Richard and Mildred Loving won their legal battle. The Supreme Court ruled that laws prohibiting interracial marriage were unconstitutional. Alabama was the last state to repeal the law prohibiting interracial marriage in 2000.

In real life, mixed marriages have been the subject of much controversy because a lot of attention is focused on the cultural gap to be filled in between the two spouses or partners. The preservation of one’s cultural identity, religious faith becomes at the forefront for the families of each spouse. More practical issues such as what food to cook at home, how to raise the children are some of the challenges facing couples with different cultural and religious background.

As major capital cities such as London, New York becomes more culturally diverse, mixed marriages gradually become less of an exception. At the end of the day, any married couple is made up of two people sharing common interests and similar core values, coming from similar socio economic background and having similar hobbies. Bonding takes place easier when more attention is given to similarities than to differences.

As a cross cultural coach, I believe that mixed marriages have a lot to teach in terms of cultural intelligence, religious tolerance and social harmony. I am fascinated to learn more about what makes the key ingredient of a great interracial marriage. Is it truly the dynamics of two people in love with each other or is it the ability to flex one’s behaviour for the sake of the other or is it the creation of a unified identity rather than a melting pot of diversity?

I have prepared a small survey of 10 questions for those who are or have been in mixed marriages or relationships and who would like to share their feedback on an anonymous basis. The website link – please click here

The survey will be available over next week for those who want to participate. Please share it with your friends, colleagues and family members. The more people responding to the survey the greater the collective wisdom!!   The results of the survey will be shared shortly after in another blog to be posted in the week of 25th July 2016.

The Sharing Economy, Millennials And The Abundance Mindset

Uber, Air Bnb have transformed their respective industries by bringing in new values and mindset. They have promoted values or concepts related to living in community, sharing, “win win” solutions and this has worked wonderfully well in an era where Millennials are now able to dictate the market.

Creating a “win win” solution and sharing what you have with others are part of the Abundance mindset. People adopting this mindset are more open to working in teams, supporting each other and having a longer term vision. They are willing to try out new concepts and create a whole new dimension of experiences. Someone with an abundance mindset considers any challenge as an opportunity worth taking and any failure as valuable lessons for the future.

Millennials have similar values and mindset. They were born in the globalisation era and have lived in places where it is “normal” to listen to a number of different languages being spoken. They value their freedom to go and do as they please without having to worry about “what others will say or think”. For them, their identity is not attached to owning branded products or being seen as living a certain lifestyle. Their identity is more related to what they believe in: fairness, tolerance, flexibility. They would be willing to make a purchase if that purchase supports the cause they believe in.

Making a “quick” profit or buying into a “glamorous” lifestyle is not what they would be supporting. This is similar to having an abundance mindset. Being you and not wanting to compare yourself with others, being appreciative of others and valuing relationships are amongst the various traits of someone having an abundance mindset.

It is difficult to fake an abundance mindset when you don’t believe in it. Your actions will not reflect your speech and thoughts. For businesses to tap into this growing generation of millennials, they would probably need to do more than understanding the psychology behind it. They would need to embrace it fully!!! With social media being their main means of communication, a number of Millennials are all about being in the open and sharing their views about everything to everyone. So faking it would only hurt the long term sustainability of your business.

How do you know whether you have an abundance mindset and how do you know whether your business is geared to tap into this growing generation of potential clients, employees and business associates?  Here are two tests that help find out for yourself. Abundance Mindset and Are You A Millenial?

Networking Can Be Fun For Introverts

Networking, networking and networking – this is the most common advice given to anyone looking to change jobs, to find more clients or to make a career change… When you are an introvert like I am, it seems a formidable challenge when I was first given this advice a few years back. Having recently settled in the UK and looking for business opportunities, networking in an environment as a newcomer seems almost impossible.

I knew that I would be able to network effectively at some point in time in the future. It required me to get out of my comfort zone on a regular basis. That is something that I have had a lot of practice over the years. I focused on my ultimate goal and got on with networking. Today, I network once or twice a week and am able to make relevant connections 75% of the time. I would like to share with you how I got on to achieve those results.

  1. Define Your Ultimate Goal

What is your motivation to network? How important is this to you? Who else will benefit if you are able to network effectively? These are the things that would help you make progress and enjoy networking. Anything that you enjoy doing will undoubtedly bring good results and you would be able to do it over the long term.

  1. Taking Baby Steps

London gives you endless opportunities for meeting new people. Meetup.com is a place where new groups and events are being created. A diverse range of subjects are covered: photography, culture, therapies, business etc. Some of these events are free and it allows you to go and explore. Pace Yourself. Choose to go to an event with no expectations and see what it feels like, how did it go and whether you have had any positive experience. To make it easier, choose one where the size of the audience is not going to be overwhelming. Other networking groups are BNI, Sterling Business Network, London Chamber of Commerce, etc.

  1. Choose events on subjects that you enjoy

I am not a great sportsperson. So, attending a sports event is not my thing. I enjoy going to a writers’ club or going to listen to an inspirational talk. I am going not only to meet people but also to learn something new. So, in case I don’t make any useful connections – it does not matter. I would leave with a few golden nuggets.

  1. Review And Change Strategy

Every few weeks, review and make a list of the things you like and those that you don’t. One of the good things being an introvert, we are self-sufficient as we tend to look inwards rather than outwards. Strategies are about changing our behaviours and attitudes.  Your behaviour is changed when you modify your beliefs. Whatever you don’t like – decide what you would like instead. Then, list options about how to go about.

  1. Trial and Error

There is no deadline about getting the results you are aiming for. Strategies are meant to evolve over time and with priorities changing, your strategies would need to adapt to the current situation. Flexibility is important when people are involved. You can only control your behaviour, your beliefs. Believing that you can control other people’s attitudes is a myth!. Faking your attitude is also a no go.  It does not help when you are trying to reach out to like minded individuals… you end up with the wrong crowd!

  1. You Are Not Alone

Being an introvert, you don’t shout at the top of the roof, who you are… You tend to make your way discretely. Yet, there are many of you who have overcome similar challenges and found their place. Susan Cain delivered an inspirational TED talk a few years ago about the power of introverts. Following her talk, she recently set up a community for Introverts: Quiet Revolution. There are many testimonials of introverts having achieved their goals such as public speaking, successful business owners..

  1. Networking Is About Listening

Networking is neither about collecting business cards nor about the ones who stands out. It is about creating connections that would be playing a role in your career, business or even in your personal life. Some of the people I met at networking events happen to be my friends, mentor and people I aspire to be. For you to make the relevant connections, use one of the main strengths of an introvert – be an empathetic listener. Making small talk and learn to know more about the people you meet comes quite easy when you are genuinely listening and not listening to reply.

  1. Do One To One Meetings

When you feel good about someone, don’t hesitate to ask to meet for a coffee. You will be surprised at how much you may have in common with the person. Trust your guts. Your guts instincts work when you are true to yourself and be accepting of you are.

  1. Take Time Out

Introverts need their own breathing space and time alone. This is how you recharge your batteries. Schedule quiet time for yourself on a regular basis even if it means that you don’t meet anyone for a day or two. Your “me” time actually helps to access your personal creativity and come up with new ideas, new options and renewed enthusiasm. Being is as important as Doing for Introverts.

Today, when I tell the people that I am an introvert – they are surprised. I have learnt to be at ease talking to strangers, doing public talks and training groups of people.  It has taken me a while to learn to use my introverted personality to my advantage when I am networking.  .  Networking is not only for sales people and are not for extroverts only. It can be fun and fulfilling when you learn to harness your personality to create your tribe and grow your network!

Se Loger à Londres: Quelques Conseils

Londres est une des villes les plus recherchées en matière de logement. Y habiter et s’établir pour quelque temps demandent beaucoup de persévérance et une bonne dose d’attitude positive. Trouver le bon logement à un prix raisonnable ressort de beaucoup d’efforts de recherches et une bonne connaissance du marché.

Cette grande ville est divisée en plusieurs zones (zones 1 à 6). Des quartiers au centre de Londres, comme le Piccadilly Circus et Victoria, sont des endroits très recherchés et donc plus chers. Brockley, Crystal Palace, Harrow et autres endroits en (zone 3 à 6) sont moins chers. Vous aurez des appartements beaucoup plus grands mais il vous faudra dépenser plus de temps dans les transports en communs.

Plusieurs solutions s’offrent à vous :

A votre arrivée, il sera plus aisé de réserver dans un premier temps une chambre dans un “Bed & Breakfast” ou dans des auberges de jeunesse. Cela vous donnera ainsi le temps d’explorer certains endroits avant de vous décider ou chercher votre logement.

Une solution peu onéreuse est le “Houseshare” où vous logeriez chez l’habitant. Certaines ONG recherchent des personnes qui pourront loger avec des personnes âgées pour un loyer modeste. Vous aurez la charge d’aider le propriétaire dans les tâches quotidiennes et leur tenir compagnie. Certains propriétaires louent aussi des chambres chez eux. Vous serez donc un “lodger”.  Dans ce cas, il y aurait certaines règles à respecter tel que les heures ou vous auriez accès à la cuisine et si vous avez le droit d’inviter des amis.

Vivre en colocation dans des appartements ou dans des maisons avec d’autres personnes est une autre option à considérer (House of Multiple Occupancy – HMO). Vous aurez probablement votre propre chambre avec votre propre salle de bain et aux autres parties communes telle que la cuisine, la salle à manger et probablement la buanderie.  Il est important de rencontrer vos colocataires pour avoir une idée si vous allez vous y plaire et de connaître les règles de communauté telles que le droit d’inviter vos amis et le nettoyage des parties communes.  Certaines colocations proposent un loyer intégrant les charges (factures d’électricité, d’eau et de gaz communément appelé « bills »). Dans ce cas, vous n’aurez en général pas à payer le “Council Tax”, les impôts locaux.

Si vous louez un appartement ou une maison seu(e), vous aurez à payer les impôts locaux «  Council Tax » et probablement votre loyer exclura les charges. Pour vérifier le montant à payer pour « le Council Tax », vous pourriez appeler le Council (municipalité) concerné. Ils vous poseront quelques questions telles que le code postal et le nombre de personnes habitant dans l’appartement afin de calculer le montant annuel à payer. Vous aurez le choix de payer ce montant en 12 mensualités si vous le souhaiteriez.

Le jargon immobilier est différent de celui en France. Ainsi, un « one-bedroom flat » est une deux pièces (salon et 1 chambre), un « two-bedroom » flat est un trois pièces et ainsi de suite. Un « split level apartment » est un appartement sur deux niveaux avec les chambres à coucher au niveau supérieur.

Quelque soit la solution que vous auriez trouvée, il convient d’avoir en tête quelques connaissances sur le marché immobilier londonien et les règles à respecter.

Vous aurez à prévoir de payer une caution (« deposit ») dont le montant est de 6 semaines de loyer et aussi les frais d’administration si le logement que vous avez choisi est géré par un agent immobilier. Certains documents vous seront demandés par le propriétaire ou l’agent immobilier: contrat de travail, feuilles de salaire, visa.

C’est important de lire votre bail au cas où certains aspects tel que la maintenance ne sont pas inclue. Toute caution doit etre enregistree dans un tenancy deposit scheme qui garantit votre caution. Tout bail doit être une durée minimum de 9 mois. Vous avez le droit de demander un “break clause”, soit une rupture de bail, après six mois. Cela vous donnera plus de flexibilité si vous auriez trouvé un meilleur logement plus tard. Un garant sera nécessaire si vous venez d’arriver à Londres et vous n’avez donc pas de feuilles de salaire pour les 3 dernier mois. Vous pourriez aussi négocier pour payer votre loyer six mois à l’avance dans le cas que vous ne trouvez pas de garant. Certaines agences acceptent cette option.

Le “EPC” (Energy Performance Certificate) de chaque logement est noté. La loi exige qu’un logement à louer doit avoir un EPC minimum de E. L’indicateur EPC vous donnera une idée de la facture de gaz ou d’électricité à prévoir pour le chauffage. A titre de comparaison, un indicateur B indique que vos charges en matière de consommation d’énergie seront moindres comparés à celles d’un indicateur E. Exemple :  un appartement deux pièces avec l’indicateur B aura £50 de charges mensuelles pour le chauffage et l’électricité en hiver. Ceci est considéré comme très économique.

Les moyens de transports, les commerces avoisinants sont des critères à ne pas négliger lorsque vous choisissez les endroits où vous aimeriez habiter. Sur Rightmove, Zoopla, Spareroom, vous aurez une idée du montant du loyer pour les différentes zones londoniennes. Un appartement de deux pieces se loue à £1,000 dans la zone 5 et le même appartement se louera à £2,000 dans la zone 3.

Certains endroits tel que Surbiton, Milton Keynes sont desservis par des trains directs à destination de Londres sans s’arrêter aux gares intermédiaires. Les loyers y sont moins chers et vous aurez l’occasion de découvrir “Greater London” – des endroits à la périphérie de Londres.

Le mieux est votre réseau à Londres. Si vous avez des amis ou des collègues à Londres, alors profitez-en, demandez-leur conseils. Si vous y plaisez dans votre logement, entretenez une bonne relation de confiance avec votre propriétaire qui pourra se montrer plus coopératif pour la maintenance et autres petits soucis que vous auriez avec l’appartement.

Finding Your Home in Mauritius

Renting a property is usually the most preferred option when you first land into a foreign country. You would want to experience living on the island and ensure that you have made the right choice of career and destination. The island is relatively small so that you can travel from one end to the other end in a single day. In terms of location, there is, therefore, a wide variety of choices. With heavy traffic at peak hours in the morning and late afternoon, you would prefer to live closer to work. Some companies are now based outside Port Louis, the capital city. There is a number of business hubs located in Grand Bay (north), Tamarin (west) and Moka (center).  If you are able to set up your office in those business hubs, life on the island would be more enjoyable!.

Most expats would live in the coastal regions.  Not only would they have direct access to the sea, they would also be able to enjoy the night life that prevails in those areas. Mauritius has the wonderful advantage that most of its coastline is good for swimming and snorkelling. Only the south part is not great for swimming but a great place for surfing. The centre of the island such as Quatre Bornes, Moka also attract a number of expats as these places are cooler and less humid compared to the rest of the island.

Schools with international baccalaureate curriculum or with the French curriculum are available. They are all private schools and are found in the North or in the centre of the island. There are school buses available in case you don’t have time to do the school runs. They are run mainly by individuals who would then charge a monthly fee.

Foreign ownership of properties in Mauritius is also allowed in some specific locations designated as Real Estate Scheme (RES) or Integrated Resort Scheme (IRS). There are certain requirements for foreigners to buy properties and the Board of Investment of Mauritius latest guideline can be found here.

As is the case in the UK, a deposit is required when you move in. It is usually one month to three months rental. There is no guaranteed deposit scheme.  So, the refund of the deposit when you leave would rely mainly on the goodwill of the landlord. In terms of maintenance issues, it is advisable that these are spelt out in the rental agreement at the start. Building great rapport with your landlord ensures that your tenancy takes place smoothly.

A number of landlords prefer to manage their own buy to lets. They will advertise online or through their local network (word of mouth). There are several online portals. L’express property is the most well-known. Templates for the lease agreement are available on the website as well as other useful tips such as having pets with you when you rent a property. Most well established estate agents have their own websites: Park Lane Properties, Pam Golding, Seeff Properties etc.

Local estate agents do not require to undergo any professional training.  A number of them are SME’s with teams of 1-3 people or are self employed. They tend to specialise by region. Estate agent fees are not regulated and tend to vary depending on the location. It is recommended that you ask to meet the landlord so as to ensure that you are both on the same wavelength before you make your final choice. Also, asking for an ID on your first meeting with the estate agent is important. Mauritian IDs are now biometric and are standardised. So, this would help you to know whether you are dealing with the right person.

I have been surprised to note that there are a number of Mauritian properties advertised on Zoopla and Rightmove.  Most of them would be considered as high end as you would have your own swimming pool and provides access to a restaurant and spa facilities. They are mainly located on the coastal areas with sea view fronts for some of them. One bed property is not as popular as it is in the UK. Most locals live in an extended family: parents, children and grand children in two units, side by side or a large house converted into two maisonettes with the grandparents living in the ground floor maisonette. A number of young single professionals are now starting to leave their parents’ home to live on their own. As this trend continues on in the future, one bed property would become more readily available.

Finding Your Home In Dar Es Salaam

  1. Word Of Mouth And Referral Works Best.

Ownership of properties in Tanzania is restricted to holders of the Tanzanian passport or to companies locally registered in the country. All foreigners are expected to rent their accommodation. The private rental market relies mainly on word of mouth and referrals. Properties are advertised online or in the newspapers. However, there is no dedicated portal such as Rightmove, Zoopla as is the case in the UK. There are a number of estate agents operating but there are no standard rules such as the Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) in the UK.  In the UK, an estate agent needs to ensure that its employees have undergone a number of certified training. This is not the case in Dar.

  1. Location: accessibility to office – to be considered

Most landlords in Dar Es Salaam have a portfolio of properties scattered in various locations: Oyster Bay, City Centre, Masaki, Mikocheni etc. Choosing your location is mainly about accessibility to your office. As in many big cities, traffic jam is problematic and it can take 1-2 hours to drive a distance that usually takes 15-30 minutes when the roads are clear. This is even more challenging during the rainy season as the shortcuts that you could take to reach your destination can no longer be used.

Most expats love to stay in Masaki or in Oyster Bay because of the various restaurants, supermarkets and other facilities available in this area. However, rents are quite high as most people once they move in in a place, they tend to stay until it is time to go home. So, supply outstrips demand. Upanga which is the city centre is great if you want to avoid traffic jams. However, in terms of social life, it is quite limited.

Most roads in Dar Es Salaam are tarred. However, access to certain new developments is mainly through dirt roads. In the rainy season, access to those developments may be tricky if you do not have an SUV or a 4 by 4. It is recommended that you check as to how the landscape can change with local weather conditions. Even in areas where roads are tarred and because the drainage was not properly done, the level of water on the roads can rise rapidly making it difficult to drive.

  1. Rent Paid In Advance Before Move In.

Renting a property requires you to pay 6 months – 12 months rent in advance. Tenant referencing and credit check is not mandatory. This is a deal breaker for most landlords. Some major corporations can negotiate more favourable terms especially if they are looking for a number of properties for their overseas staff. Cash transactions are quite common and bank transfers are the next best means of payment favoured by landlords.

  1. Utilities Bill Can Skyrocket.

Electricity and water is rarely included in the rent. Electricity (LUKU) is pre paid and you can buy your monthly credit in advance at any gas station or in some shops. As power generation has still not yet caught up with the local demand, generators are regularly used to provide electricity for the whole building. The splitting of the bill amongst the residents is not scientific as there is no way of measuring how much power each household has consumed. It is recommended to discuss this with the landlord before you make up your mind.

  1. Maintenance and Other Facilities

Most apartments are in a gated community with security guards at the entrance. This is mainly to discourage local people to go in to sell their products or ask for work without being invited. Most landlords have a team who can help with small maintenance issues such as tap leaks, broken door handles etc. They can also provide other services such as replacement of LPG containers used for cooking, maid cleaning etc for an extra fee.

  1. Landlord Obligations

Tanzanian legislation is less strict than that of the UK. Requirements such as gas certificates, PAT Testing, building insurance are not compulsory. Fire exits and fire drills are also not well implemented in most buildings. New apartments have the advantage that all lifts are running properly. Over time, when the lifts are broken, they are not repaired immediately. It is suggested that you choose apartments that are easily accessible by stairs in case the lifts get broken.

The Concept Of Time

Time is considered to be a limited resource due to the speed at which information is disseminated online. There is now an easy access to emails due to smart phones.

There is a general belief that “there is not enough time” and any delays we encounter becomes a source of anxiety, frustration. According to Deepak Chopra, time is the movement of thoughts. So, allowing technology to dictate our use of time and our pace of life can lead to time management being a continuous source of stress.

In the “Western” world, to meet deadlines, to be punctual and good timekeeping skills are highly valued. More attention is paid to the tasks at hand, to stick to the agreed agenda and not much is done to build the right kind of rapport with the counterparty. It is assumed that if we do what is expected of us, then we have demonstrated our commitment and professionalism.

In other cultures such as Japan, punctuality is interpreted as a gesture of respect and courtesy. On the other hand, in India and in many other parts of the world, it is expected that meetings will start behind schedule as being late is considered as “normal”. Building rapport and creating trust amongst the parties are more important than punctuality. They will spend the time needed to ensure that the meeting ends at the “right” place. Relationships are the determining factor in growing your business and time keeping may be considered a trivial matter.

However, there may be different rules applied depending on whether you are local or you are a foreign visitor. In Madagascar, for example, the locals will not be expected to arrive in time if they are meeting their countrymen. On the other hand, if the counterparty is a foreign visitor, punctuality becomes a must as a sign of respect.

Time is also measured differently. In East Africa, you have the KiSwahili time. In our part of the world, time is usually counted as from midnight to midday. In East Africa, time is from dawn to dusk. Seven o’clock in the morning, in the Western World, is actually one o’clock in the morning in KiSwahili. It is assumed that the sun rises at around 6 am and sets around at 6 pm. If you want to know more about KiSwahili time, please click here. In most East African countries, people are used to the Western approach of measuring time when it comes to business meetings. However, when it comes to dealing with the local tradesmen, it is useful to ensure that you all have the same concept of timekeeping.

Time is in continuous flow with no limits and boundaries. The social norms of each culture have given it different interpretations. When meetings run late, trains are delayed or deadlines are not met, it is probably useful to take a deep breath and step back. What matters most to the person you are meeting and what compromise are you willing to make?

Create Your Tribe

We all live in circles of friends, family, co workers and acquaintances. No matter how shy we are, we have to interact with people on a daily basis. Your network of relationships is part of your assets. Assets are things that we have and that contribute positively to our lives, be it professional or personal.

Relationships are complex, most of the time. There is no standard recipe for successful and healthy relationships. We learn by trial and error and by being self aware. Like any asset you have, it needs energy, time and personal commitment. These relationships are even more crucial when you work in an environment unfamiliar to you such as being an expat or self employed or running your own business. It is not enough to have a number of business cards lying on your desk or having a number of “friends” on Facebook. Personal engagement with your network is important on a regular basis. Engagement is about getting to know each one of them, making a connection. This takes time and a genuine effort to invest in your network.

Creating a strong rapport takes place over time and it requires a commitment to add value to the lives of the people you engage with. Walking the extra mile to show appreciation is the personal touch that you can add. Whatever value you can add is about your personality, your talents and your life experiences. Your personal brand will determine how strong your interpersonal skillset is and how confident you are in being able to bring something that your network will value.

Adding value is not a one off thing that you can do at the start of any relationship. It is a continuous process of exchange between two persons. The universal law of giving and receiving ensures that there is a balance and allows for the relationship to be of value to both parties. It is quite unhealthy to be always at the receiving or giving end. It creates frustration, resentment when things go wrong.

Achieving that balance allows you to leverage your network. SME’s are usually run by small teams of 1-3 people at most. Taping into your relationships allows you to have access to a broader range of skills and experiences. You may even create a mastermind group of your peers whose skills set and experience is complementary to yours. For expats, having a wider network allows you to broaden your scope, possibly add value to your new job and be the support that you need during the early days of your new life and new career phase.

Your network is definitely your net worth when you regularly engage, add value and leverage your relationships.

Cultural Etiquette – An Important Ingredient In A Multi-Cultural Environment.

In today’s world, there are more and more people looking to relocate for a better future. London is a good example of a diverse cultural workforce. You have people with Jamaican, Nigerian, Spanish, French cultural background working and living in London. Their kids will be of a hybrid cultural background. Over time, more and more of the younger generations will all be of mixed cultures. London is not the only place where there is a melting pot of cultures. Some countries such as Singapore, Mauritius were populated by migrants from various parts of the world. People born and raised there, had to create a new cultural identity over time as they found themselves different from their culture of origin.

Social cohesion is sometimes not only a result of economic prosperity or the fact that most of us are all law abiding citizens. Cultural etiquette is also important when we live in a multi-cultural environment. There are boundaries to be respected and an awareness that our behaviour can offend without us knowing why. Learning about other cultures can sometimes be difficult because of the tendency to stereotype. Sometimes, people are not so willing to share their cultural heritage because of a lack of trust. So, here are a few tips to bear in mind

1. Time and Space
People’s relationship with time varies. Punctuality is not always upheld as some people are more focused on leaving the meeting on a good note. As long as they feel that they have not yet built the rapport they need, they may prolong the meeting. In their views, relationships are what matters most.

Personal space is not always easy to respect especially at peak times in public transport. When it comes to making friends or reaching out to people, it is useful to know that some people do not like any friendly pats on the back or being physically close. Hugging is also very uncomfortable unless you have known each other for a while. People may see that more as a violation of their personal space. Though they may not say anything, it is starting the relationship on the wrong note.

2. Clothing
We all have different tastes in clothes, some more obvious than others. Respecting people’s choices is important though their choices may seem alien to us. I was agreeably surprised when I went to New York for the first time. It was amazing to see such a freedom of clothing style. This would not be case in some other parts of the world where people tend to conform to certain implicit norms. No matter how people look different from each other, they all seek the same thing: happiness. They are all trying their very best to achieve their goals. This is what is most important to bear in mind when it comes to meeting people with a dress code different from ours.

3. Language
We all speak English and yet we don’t always understand each other. Speaking English with an accent or using slang or professional jargon can make communication more difficult. Using simple language and speaking slower build better rapport with others. Getting used to different accents are also useful as what matters is the strength of the rapport that you build with the other person. That same person may become a great friend over time or it may be one of your best clients ever.

20 years ago, it was a novelty to find so many different languages spoken in one location. Today, we have a number of cities, across the world, where you can listen to French, German, Japanese, and many other languages being spoken all in the same place. Learning to be “politically correct” is essential if you want to raise your profile in a culturally diverse environment.

Finetuning Your Mindset To Be Successful In The Global Arena

The world has shrunk thanks to social media (Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest) and to the emergence of cloud computing. Today, your team members, located in various countries, can work on the same documents online and you can all converse via Skype, Webex. The work place can now be a virtual office. Your website is a showcase to the whole world as e commerce is becoming a way of life for busy people or for people looking to buy goods and services not available in their home country.

Your next client is not necessarily living in the same country as you. Speaking the same language does not imply that things will go according to your expectations. Misunderstandings can get in the way and therefore, affect your personal performance at work.

To reap the rewards of working in a multinational team or to capitalise on your online commercial presence is about adopting a mindset that improves your cultural intelligence. Your cultural sensitivity starts with a genuine respect for other cultures, no matter what their outward appearances, their accents or way of life are. Withholding judgement and having great active listening skills are necessary for the right connections to be made.  Many cultures favour an indirect style of communication where body language gives you important cues about what is truly being said.

The quality of relationships is also considered as an asset by many business communities across the world. It is not about how many people you know but how truly you know your business acquaintances. The strength of the rapport determines whether they will do business with you or not. Because English is spoken widely, people tend to assume that there is no need to know about the customs and traditions of their counterpart.  This is totally wrong. Getting to know their social values and customs helps to understand their viewpoints and helps you to create win win outcomes for all parties involved. It actually reduces the complexity of doing business outside your local borders.

Working in a multinational environment requires a high tolerance for ambiguity and an ability to maintain performance during periods of uncertainty. There will be times when you will be spending a huge amount of time in meeting and discussing and yet no outcome is being reached. Your ability to influence will be tested in these situations and losing your cool can be seen as disrespectful and immature. Diversifying your range of negotiation skills will allow you to be more versatile and makes it easier to achieve your goals.

Building your psychological fortitude helps to manage the unexpected. Going into uncharted territories rarely goes as planned. Being humble allows you to accept that mistakes are inevitable and are opportunities to acquire new knowledge and skills.

Finetuning your mindset is all about acquiring soft skills, reviewing your beliefs and making regular self assessment of where you are in your journey to position yourself in the global arena.  Using personal development tools such as The International Profiler helps as it is an objective benchmark and comes with the professional support of a cross cultural coach to whom you can be accountable.

In today’s world, the past is no longer a prediction of the present or the future. Your approach to building your business or career will need to evolve at the same pace as society is evolving and that includes the whole world.

 

Self Promotion: Valerie is licensed to train using The International Profiler and she is a professionally qualified cross cultural coach and trainer