Tag Archives: blunder

Whining and Intercultural Connection Theory

Here’s an article that may help you with intercultural communication, or maybe not. You be the judge.

And I’d just like to thank the hundreds of people who signed up for my LAB Profile® Online Program. Thanks so much!!

Here’s the article:

Whining and Intercultural Connection Theory

By Shelle Rose Charvet

The weather has been unusually bad lately. Too much snow. Too much rain. Not enough rain. Too dry. And the price of gas keeps going up on weekends. And don’t get me started on the Canadian dollar! When it goes above the US dollar, I lose a bundle in the exchange.

Doesn’t this sound Canadian, eh? To the outside ear, this may sound like whining, but what do they know? This is how Canadians connect! And connecting is important, right?

In Berlin, I greeted the general manager of the hotel where I was working. “Guten Morgen Herr Ronald. Wie geht es Ihnen?” He smiled, looked uncomfortable, mumbled something and left.

My local meeting planner Annemarie said, “Shelle, did you really want to know how he is?” “Of course not,” I replied, “it’s just that in Canada we need to exchange at least two sentences.” “Well in Germany we only need one,” she explained.

Okay then! One sentence. I can do that. No problem. But what was I going to do about the traditional German need to be perfect? “I must be perfect at all times and so must the speaker.” How do I get rid of the Perfect Directive and connect to my audience? Through an interpreter? Without losing my credibility? In only one sentence?

I gathered up my courage. Briefed my interpreters. Walked to the front of the room, smiled warmly and proceeded to screw up my attempt to use a traditional German greeting. My interpreter, standing beside me, fumbled her translation back into English, right on cue. We paused, looked at each other, both shrugged a “so who cares” kind of Gallic Shrug[1] and continued.

With one sentence, we had lowered the expectations from perfect to human, made people laugh, and didn’t entirely destroy my credibility. Yeah, but something was missing. I still hadn’t quite connected to my group yet.

“Isn’t it amazing how bad the weather has been this summer, even for northern Europe, especially when the summer doesn’t last very long?” I commented to my group. Now everyone was nodding their heads in agreement.

That’s it I thought! And I gave birth to The Connection Theory on the spot:[2]

1. Each culture has a topic of conversation, to be discussed in a particular number of sentences or duration in time for the precise purpose of connecting rather that communicating specific information. To connect one needs to match the topic and required duration of conversation.

2. Each culture has a precise “order of business” in their places of work wherein a specific number of minutes is taken for greeting, working, informal chit chat, breaks), etc., in a particular order. This order of business ensures that a personal connection will take place.

But you know the problem with theories. They don’t always work in practice. So what do you do when in doubt? Whine about the weather of course. The Canadian Connection Strategy may just be the Universal Connector. There is only one way to find out, n’est-ce pas?

Bon voyage. Gute Reise. Safe travels.

Shelle

 

 



[1] I first learned the Gallic Shrug while living and working in France. It is a one-shoulder shrug which is meant to communicate: “What the heck. Who cares?” It is not to be confused with the two-shoulder Jewish Shrug which generally signals “So who knows and why are you asking me anyway?” I now teach various shrugs as high stakes negotiation techniques.

[2] I gave birth to the Connection Theory metaphorically only. If you were thinking that I actually gave birth, on the spot, in front of the audience, then perhaps you are reading this article a bit too literally.

Moments Matter

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In an instant, you can change your mind. You change the impression you had of someone, or you decide something is not a good idea after all. Politics is full of these moments.

General David Petraeus had to resign after being caught in an extra-marital affair. In a moment, questions arose about his military judgment. If he were so unwise as to have an affair, and leave an easily detected electronic trail, what other mistakes could he have made? In a moment, beliefs about his worthiness shifted.

Supporters of Barack Obama watched helplessly during the first debate of the 2012 election as he showed a decidedly un-presidential demeanor and lost credibility for the undecided voters. Romney also had his moment that evening, as he appeared “presidential” (whatever that means) for the first time during the campaign. In a moment, the performance of both changed the direction of movement of the campaign. Suddenly it appeared possible that Romney might actually win.

In France, in the first six months of François Hollande’s presidency saw his popularity dramatically drop to a 36% approval rating. As I watched his grueling official press conference at the end of the first six months, lasting over two and a half hours, François Hollande had his moment. “I can understand the doubts that have been expressed. The only valid question in my eyes is not the state of public opinion today but the state of France in five years’ time.” He successfully reframed the issues of the day: Today is not what counts. Popularity doesn’t matter — results over the long term are what matters.

Moments matter in communication.

Everything you say and do affects the emotional state of other people.

Everything you say and do determines what they believe about you and your whole organization.

The above examples illustrate these “Power Principles”.

But let’s think about everyday communication — what moments have you had that created a positive or negative impression? Was that your intention? How can you avoid the missteps that leave a trail of damaged or broken relationships?

How to Succeed Your Key Moments

Here are some tips on mastering the “moment”:

  1. Take a look at what you are doing. If your actions were known, how would they affect your credibility? Would people still trust you? Would they still respect you? Would they still like you?
  2. Assess risks: Sometimes you have to do or say things that risk upsetting others or making you unpopular. Ask yourself, who will benefit from this? How can I say or do this in a respectful way? I recently emailed some colleagues about what I felt was a lack of content in their presentation — I risked hurting their feelings, but I felt the opportunity to improve would be lost if I didn’t say what I felt. And I thought they could do a better job on their upcoming book if they got some input. I will see how they respond.
  3. Take feedback seriously. The worst mistakes are often made by people who believe they are better, more important or more knowledgeable than others. If we dismiss what others tell us, then we lose the opportunity to continuously improve. People who are highly Internal or Macho (Please see my article the Macho Test) often refuse to consider any opinion different from their own. I hate being criticized, but I know that once I lick my wounds and get over my hurt feelings, there is usually something really useful that I need to incorporate.
  4. Be what you aspire to be. Social scientist Amy Cuddy revealed the link between body language and your own beliefs about yourself. Want to be more confident? Sit or walk confidently for 2 minutes. That’s all it takes.
  5. Adopt helpful beliefs. I like to believe that even if they don’t look like it, most people want to have fun. Is it true? I don’t care.

 Moments matter. 

Just a reminder about our LAB Profile Consultant/Trainer Certification Program coming up August 12 – 23, 2013 in Belgium. We are offering a $600 discount for the first 11 registrants! Hope you will be there.

Cheers,

Shelle

If you are interested in booking me (Shelle Rose Charvet) for a presentation, keynote or workshop contact me at shelle@wordsthatchangeminds.com. Please visit my speaking page too.

http://www.labprofilecertification.com
http://www.shellestoptips.com
http://www.shellerosecharvet.com
http://www.theshelleblog.com

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