Tag Archives: stupid mistake

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
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http://www.theshelleblog.com

How Visualization Can Create Bad Judgement and Alternatives to Self Delusion

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My coaching client Sophia had explored a business opportunity with a franchising organization and was very excited to tell me about it. It combined many of the activities that she found motivating; it would enable her to work from home, set her own schedule, work in a people job and use her communication skills.  It seemed great. She could see herself doing all those things and being happy.

Sofia contacted them to arrange attending their open house and was dismayed to find that there was no room left in the one next week and she would have to wait a month before  being able to attend the next one. Then two days later they phoned to say a space had opened up and she could go right away.  She also told me about another similar business opportunity but up to this point had yet to explore it in any great detail, because she was very motivated by the first one.

Here’s where I intervened. “Did you have an image of working in this business?” I asked. “How did it feel?”  “It was great!” she replied, “I could see the whole thing.”  “Did you have an image of the second business opportunity and how that might be?” I asked.  “Well no” she said, “but when a space in the open house for the first one opened up, I thought it was a sign this was the opportunity for me.”  “Perhaps it was a sign” I said “that they really want you to buy this business.”

One Image Can Create a Commitment

The purpose of visualization is to make something real, and it is a very effective technique.  When Sophia visualized the first business opportunity, she not only saw it in detail, she lived it.  She jumped into the image and had the experience of what she imagined it would be like.  When she had done this it was very difficult for her to consider any other opportunities.  She began to interpret events as signs that this was the right thing to do.

Having only one image, she became committed to it. I did the same thing a few years ago when I visited a house that I was considering buying. I could see my family living there; saw us hanging out in the living room, was able to walk around the kitchen knowing that I could cook there, the back yard was a great one to be sitting in, etc, etc. The same week I put in an offer on this house, interest rates went up two points, and I lost my contract with the local college. Buying this house was not to be.  But because I had already imagined us living there, I felt a deep depressing sense of disappointment, as if my dream home had just been taken away from me.  At the time I thought that was such a weird reaction to have since I’d never actually lived there.

That’s the problem with having a vivid imagination.  Having conjured up an image of living there made it feel like I actually had or that I was going to live there.  Having imagined what it would be like to work for this franchise made Sofia commit to the idea.
A friend of mine said that many women do essentially the same thing when they first meet a potential partner. They immediately visualize, sometimes in great detail, their whole future unfold with this person. No wonder this puts enormous pressure on the new person in their life!

Your brain, in need of closure will do it’s best to complete the image and then the handy-dandy process of self-justification jumps in to find reasons why this image is the right one*.

Bad Judgment

Once you have a clear image it is as if your brain has shut down and stops being open to other possibilities. For instance, imagine you are sitting in a chair in front of a large window, looking out at a large beautiful pine tree.  Look out the window towards the tree. There may be other trees around, but notice now how prominent the pine tree is in your image and how it takes some voluntary effort to bring the other trees into focus.

In and of itself this is not a problem, but when you have not clearly defined your decision-making criteria or considered alternatives, this ability to become focused on one sole image can lead to bad judgment simply because you took the first available option.
This means that you had no real choice.  Or, there was no opportunity to evaluate the choices against what is important to you and therefore make the best choice.  In this system, where you visualize and then choose the first option, you miss the opportunity to:

  • learn from your experience,
  • analyse risk, as well as
  • analysing potential opportunity

and you may end up making a bad decision.

Real Choice and Great Decision-Making

So what is the alternative?  Different people, of course, have different decision-making strategies.  Good decision-making strategies
however all have a few points in common.

They:

  • Define outcomes,
  • Identify criteria for knowing when an outcome is reached and
  • Present a minimum of three choices.

Three choices are better than two, because two choices tend to be the extremes of an either/or kind of relationship.  “Either I leave or he leaves.”  Not many options there. With three choices you have a real opportunity to see and experience alternatives against what is important to you without only considering the extremes.

Here is a decision-making process that keeps you real choice and will help you make great decisions:

  1. Define the outcome you would like to achieve.
  2. List your criteria for what is important to you about your decision.
  3. How will you know, what evidence will you use for each of the criteria?
  4. Imagine three choices.  One at a time, see each choice in your mind’s eye, holding your most important criteria in your heart. Step in and out of each choice, exploring them one at a time as if you were there.  What happens in each situation?  How do you feel each situation?  What are the future consequences of each choice, as you explore them through time?
  5. Step outside these three options.  Which of them most closely matches your criteria, your outcome and feels the best? Are there any downsides to this particular option that you need to take into account?

Example Outcome: I would like to have my own business.
Criteria: target annual income $100,000, with the take-home income of $50 – $75,000, by the end of three years.  Work in a consulting role with both individuals and teams of people, using proven methodologies for IT solutions in small business enterprise software work and maximum of 40 hours per week, based from home, with visits to local businesses.  Well-defined successful sales model with lead generation to be part of the business.
This is an example for someone who wants to start their own IT consulting business.  He or she could then try out 3 different models or opportunities.

Imagine walking along the road in the country, with beautiful scenery on either side and you come to a place where the road branches in three different directions.  At first, you are not certain which road to take and you realize it is because what you want is not yet clear.  You pause, reflect, and come to understand that the thing you want most is now clear in your mind.  You can see it , hear it, smell it, touch and taste it.  You look at the three paths in front of you and imagine taking each one, exploring where the path leads you, knowing what it is you truly want.  You come back and now you know which of the paths is for you.

One image is no choice; three or more helps you have great judgement.

***Let me know what you think – shelle@wordsthatchangeminds.com

* In Mistakes Were Made (but not by me) by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson (2007) Harcourt Books, the authors detail the exact process by which human beings reduce conflict (dissonance) and then justify whatever they think and do.

Have a look at other Shelle’s Top Tips http://www.ShellesTopTips.com

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

Airline Industry Unprepared for Winter!

It is an outrage that once again the airline industry in Europe and around the world was not ready for a winter storm….. at Christmas time! Why isn’t the world press outraged?

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How to Recover from Bloopers, Blunders and Faux Pas

The dictionary defines a faux pas, as a false step (which is the literal translation from French) or a breach of etiquette. A blunder is a stupid mistake, to move awkwardly or stumble or to utter stupidly or confusedly. Bloopers are defined as a clumsy mistake, especially one made in public.

Have you ever had a day like that? How do you get your foot out of your mouth?

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