|Language creating connections|
Recently I travelled in Morocco where I became acutely aware of cultural differences, some significant. The culture of bargaining for items was foreign and discomforting to me yet occurs in most purchasing interactions there. For the seller there is a game of wanting to make a sale and getting a good price. For me as the buyer I have little idea of the value of somethings I am buying and I didn't want to be rude by offering a low price. What I noticed is that both buyer and seller are free to walk away. Thankfully, many of the merchants there would say, 'just smile. It's ok not to buy'.
Another significant difference was the language. Despite listening carefully, memorizing and practicing, I could not recall people's names. The combination of letters and the sounds were 'foreign'. Many names I hadn't heard before; Karim, Khalid, Ahmet, Khadija. For the first time, I really 'got' how important it is to use a number of methods in learning something new. I would listen, write down the name, then practice. Yet I was stillI unsure of remembering the name, and how to pronounce it well, and this was happening with people I was interacting with over several days. Embarrassing. I decided to take a lesson in Moroccan Arabic - two hour language lesson taught by Mustapha the waiter at a local cafe (and an honour grad in English language.) He was a great teacher. He put aside the script and asked each of us what we wanted to learn and why. I wanted to know what people were saying to me, be able to ask for tea and coffee, and especially buy goats cheese without salt as well as recall names. My travel companion wanted to learn and understand both the formal and everyday greetings, and the third in the group, wanted to learn Moroccan Arabic which was different from Egyptian Arabic where she had lived for a year. Mustapha had us practice by role playing with each other:
How are you going?
I'm good, And you?
My name is Diana, what is your name?
Two coffees please, no sugar.
It's been nice to meet you.
Thank you for the delicious food.
With four days practice I had mastered the basics. To my great delight, this small effort gained great results. By listening, writing the words down, reading and practicing some more, we were able to initiate conversations and respond to people greeting us. We discovered the formal greeting and enquiry was an entry into conversations and to great generosity. As we spoke, people warmed to us. An extra connection was made.
What have you found to be effective in making connections when you enter groups with cultures different from ones you are familiar with?
|The Executive Presence Triangle*|
A tool for discovering your Executive Presence
Have you ever felt completely swept up by what is going on in your organisation, and can't think straight, let alone lead? Have you ever felt so vested in an outcome, you want to control how things happen? Or have you found yourself isolated and removed, and relating to those around you is entirely secondary. Executive Presence is the capacity to relate to those around you and lead in the current situation.
This Executive Presence triangle is an effective tool in taking several perspectives with what is going on and finding your position of executive presence. The three points of the triangle represent:
- the Executive Presence point where there is no outcome. In this position, you let go of your attachment to outcomes or what 'should' happen. Here, you are engaged, aware of your own needs and biases yet free of them. This involved trust, acceptance and respect of those you are with
- The involved point is where you are swirling in the emotions of the situation. You may be passionate and driven and are likely to be holding onto a desired outcome, or the ways of getting there. In this position your ownership of the issue/concern is likely to be 'over developed'
- The detached point is where you are a distant observer. You may see the patterns and dynamics of the situation, and you can make observations of yourself, the situation and what is happening around you, however your ownership of the issue/concern is likely to be 'under-developed'
By moving from one point to another on this triangle, and by reflecting on your experience of being in each position, leaders discover their way forward from the point of Executive Presence
If you want to increase your effectiveness in a situations where you become immobilized, by being overly involved or overly detached in central areas of your work, contact Diana.
* Based on and adapted from colleague Donna Little's work with Nonie Lyon and the Psychosynethesis Triangle and the Karpman triangle
On story Telling
Taking care of you emotional self