All posts in “peace”

Culture of Communication

Culture Matters. Did you ever wonder what you could have said or done differently when a business meeting fails to produce the desired results or sale of your product? Why did they chose “XYZ” company over you?  You may be surprised to know that what sets them apart is their ability to communicate in an atmosphere that builds trust and compatibility; elements that are integral to connecting in a multi-cultural world. For international companies, cross border success is tied to our ability to adapt our communication styles and plan for those differences within our business model. One way to achieve this is building Cultural Intelligence. The CQ model explains cultural intelligence  as  your companies’ ability to work effectively across cultures and is just one method to develop this essential skill. Understanding the cultural norms of a market or within your own organization may be the only thing stagnating growth, or killing the deal. Look at the advertisement below.  It was used by a foreign bank doing business in the Middle East to promote a new savings scheme.  See anything wrong with this picture? Building your CQ knowledge could give you the answer.

What steps can I take to build Cultural Intelligence and increase my chances of success on the international stage?

Once you understand the power of cultural intelligence, you can begin to take the necessary steps to adapt your strategy during negotiations, collaborate more effectively and efficiently with multi-cultural teams or avoid costly mistakes in marketing a product in a foreign market.  Here are some tips.

  • Have the Proper Motivation, (drive and interest in truly getting to know other cultures)
  • Build Your Knowledge about your team first and of course your client’s culture.
  • Plan for cross-cultural communication encounters by setting out a strategy.
  • Stay in the moment, look for non-verbal cues, and be ready to adapt your communication style to address cross-cultural communication “confusion”.

Here’s an example of how cultural differences are creating conflict within a team.

At your team meetings, Abdulla and Aruto,  junior team members are always quiet but have plenty to share via email and seem to have great ideas.  They are attentive and listen carefully but don’t contribute during the brain storming sessions. Other team members view their silence as a strategy to “keep their ideas” a secret, only sharing them directly with decision makers to out shine the others on the team. Abdulla and Arturo are new to the company, and haven’t yet figured out the “corporate culture”.  Other team members view their silence as awkward and an obstacle to collaborative spirit of the organization.  What’s going on here? Are these team members ultra-competitive or does culture affect their silence? How do they view power distance and the chain of authority among their team and leadership?

Understanding the answers will lead to improving your Cultural Intelligence.  Leading a multi-cultural team and motivating them to success can be difficult if communication styles affected by culture are not considered.  Building your cultural intelligence skills as a leader and as a team can help tackle these questions and create a cohesive collaborative, environment that leads to innovation and achieving the goals set by the organization. These skills can be used to have a better understanding of your company’s reach in the global market and can be the difference between an advertising campaign boom or bust.

Visit our CQ page  www.thearabculturalist.com/index.php/cq-cultural-intelligence to learn more about how to build your cultural intelligence.

Walls

Borders, Flags, National anthems, passports, visas, WALLS, boundaries and territories. It’s not just simple geography, it’s the mindset that creates our national consciousness or is it a means to divide and conquer?

Categorizing things is a skill that we develop starting from the day we’re born and reinforced throughout our education and environment. It is ingrained in our very being, and used to process the way we understand everything from math to the arts. We categorize people by gender, color, nationalities, culture, faith, political system or status, and the list goes on.

Is this just the way we are programmed to operate? If not, then how should it be?

Let’s simply look at the facts.

Yes, we are different, we do things differently and conceptualize things in ways we comprehend and are content with. So, what’s not acceptable about that?

We live in a time when somehow being different is not ok but rather the source of the wave of polarization that is effecting all aspects of society.  The old saying my way or hit the highway has become the prevailing winds of change. The loudest voices are screaming out that our differences are not interesting or unique, rather that they are to be looked at with precaution or even fear. Beware they are not like us, we are right, they are not!

When children meet, they are innocent, curious and intrigued by the world around them, particularity the differences; they don’t see white and black, blue eyes or brown, skinny or fat, rich or poor. But soon they learn perspective from parents, teachers, and their environment.  If the perspective is “us and them” then, the way they see differences  are no longer intriguing; rather they are met with fear, bias, misconception and prejudice.

If left unchecked, we grow up in an environment that is continuously injecting negative and stereotypes, into our mindsets (we let it), until our view of others is distorted by all kinds of misconceptions and negative perceptions.

What to do then? Through modifying our perspective, we can learn to take those misconceptions and create an opportunity to learn the facts about a certain culture or faith, nationality or ethnicity with the same curiosity and openness we had as children.

I also learned that it starts with me. Every one of us needs to first learn about ourselves before we can begin to understand others.  Call it our Cultural Values. Once I understand my underlying values, cultural norms, habits, traditions, the political identity and faith I proclaim, my comfort zone in going about life, I can begin to understand what drives my behavior and my perspective.

This perspective to accept who I am before others do, and that who I am may or may not have to do with where I was born, my traditions or faith, is critical to self-development and harmony in society. I call this Nationality vs Personality, and knowing the difference is the first step in building your Cultural Intelligence. What tribe or people I belong to or nationality I hold certainly does not represent a whole society, and conversely individuals that share with me faith, culture, or a political identity do not represent me. We each have our own, one of a kind, finger print, eye scan and DNA.

The perspective to be comfortable with myself in my own skin, strive to make others feel comfortable in their own skin, make sincere attempts at understanding others, empathize, sympathize, tolerate, creates an environment where we can live in peace and harmony.

For us to connect with each other, tear the WALLS down between us, we need to start with the basics. Greet each other with a smile at first glance, share a meal with a stranger, sit-down and have a chat, ask and answer questions, clear a misconception and clarify a perception with enthusiasm, passion, sincerity and laughter; cherish the moment and seize an opportunity that may never present itself again.

The Value of One Humanity

As we celebrate the International Day of Tolerance referred to as Al Tasamuh in Arabic, I’d like to shed some light on why this human value has become extremely important now more than ever.

As the world stands today, we are not only divided by nationalities, borders, flags, national anthems, faith, color, gender, status and level of education, we have drawn yet another divide, the division of personal opinion.

The fundamental basics to unity should be that we all agree on a foundation from which we extract the answers to our well-being and to peaceful coexistence.  This does not mean that we are not unique individuals; but our individuality should not be a source of division, separatism, war and strife.

In my endeavor to connect people and bridge the divide, alleviate misconceptions, and establish a different outlook on life, I would humbly like to share what I have learned:

  • That for this world and all that is in it, to exist and function, is not by chance; and its functioning must have a driver, a leader, a starter.
  • The fact of the matter is that we all have the same hardware (eyes, ears, arms, legs …etc.) the same motherboard, (we laugh, we cry, we are happy, we are sad and so on) and one operating system.
  • We have the basic instinct to survive, but how we survive is our choice. We choose to download, develop, create the software of us, the principles by which we protect our survival.
  • There are two “control panels” within us, logic – our Brain and emotional  – our Hearts. How we use them is the essence our humanity.

Logic: Simply think about the functioning of the universe that runs with pin point precision. Look at its vastness, look at the earth and all it encompasses, reflect, contemplate, question and genuinely seek the logic in it. Could it be by chance, or is this all planned and pre-designed?

Emotion: When we are in trouble, when we are in danger, when we are in a desperate situation, our instincts kick in. Its fight or flight, beg or plead, but in the end our heart motivates us into action.

Those who rely on the premise that there is a Master Planner, a Controller, He is the one we turn to when we are in despair, when the situation is desperate, when the calamity is about to befall us.

If we accept this premise of a higher power, the Creator of all that is created, Sustainer, Provider and Protector the one and only Lord of the Universe for all of mankind and all that is around us, then we also accept that there is a system, that allows us to exercise our most valuable asset that distinguishes the human race from  all that exists – FREE WILL,  and with that the knowledge that there are certain things that are unchangeable and therefore beyond our free will to choose.

What’s most interesting, is that no matter what you believe, pre-design or by chance, Master Planner or you as Master of the Plan, the things that we use so quickly to divide us are simply beyond our control. Ask yourself. Did you choose the color, gender, race, or the country you were born in? Did you choose your parents, your status in this world, or the resources you have around you? Do you choose when, where and how you will leave this life?  The answer is NO.

Therefore, to unite as one human race, we must accept the universal truth that a basic principle of life is the principle that every life is valued. There is no country or border with more right or humanness, no race or ethnicity that in and of itself is elevated. We can distinguish ourselves only by our treatment towards one another. We should rise to leadership by our devotion and justice to the people, and as I mentioned if you believe in a higher power, that God, Eloah, Elohim, Yahweh, Jehovah or Lord, is above all and therefore the Supreme Leader, with an operating system that is right for every living thing on this earth, inclusive of the social, economic and political guidelines that define wrong and right, good and bad.  If this is true, then we must adhere to the guidelines and rules that govern the human coexistence; we have no choice in how to treat one another, as the system requires that we must not discriminate and differentiate between one another based on the superficial.

We must not accept what is being propagated by those who would like to see some rise and others fall, to see a world divided by sectarianism, elitism, and religion. It is only when we recognize the words of great leaders past and present, who championed the philosophies of tolerance and peaceful coexistence that we will also become a great human race, ready to achieve a better life for the collective good. This is the only truth we must adhere to and preserve.

As I always say, renowned people in history are not those who collected the most wealth nor those who were the most beautiful or lived the healthiest lifestyle,  rather they are the simple people who did good; people like Mother Teresa, Ghandi, and for us here in the UAE we regard HH Sheikh Zayed, and HH Sheikh Rashid, for their humanity and acceptance of all.

Therefore, leave a legacy of good, and believe that the good starts with you. Reflect on the bad you do to others and apologies and fix it, also reflect and remember the good others do to you and be grateful and kind. Be a part of the solution, not a bystander to the problem. Tolerate, Accept.