February 17, 2010

New site, new blog!

Well, here it is....


my newest blog entry is now hosted over there (clic on "blog").
Still working out the kinks, so bear with me, but this is sneak preview for my favorite readers.

I will let you know when I get "The Expat Gym" enrollment set up.

feedback WELCOME!!

a domani,

February 16, 2010

Ways of thinking

I found this story on a forum and it is a wonderful example of differences in approaches to thinking things through and decision making processes.

I sat on a European subcommittee for several years and was able to observe the different thinking styles being played out. These differences would considerable misunderstanding and conflict and quite often produce a total impasse. Much of the ways of thinking owe a large part to the legacy of British Empiricism (as per David Hume). This will often manifest itself such that if someone suggests an idea the boss' will ask for proof that a viable and effect project plan can be produced: only then will the idea be given adequate consideration. On the other hand, French thinking owes much to the legacy of Cartesianism (as per Rene Descartes). This would be manifested in the French industrialists and academics paining the 'big idea' and asking for agreement first and then later working on the project plan. Attempts by the Dutch, British and German members to seek the viable project plan first so that they could take it back to their respective institutions for approval were clearly seen as obstructive behaviours. Agree the big idea first and then work out the plan versus prove it is viable then we can sigh off on the big ideas are 180 degree opposite ways of thinking. The net result was that the British and Dutch contingent never got sign off and so lost out on the funding!

a presto,

February 1, 2010

Deadlines come and go

Deadlines are what drive S. crazy. "They don't keep to deadlines!!" she exclaimed, "and it drives me crazy".

"So, what do you do?" I asked.

"Well, for example this morning I set a meeting time, then I sent an email to everyone, then I followed up with individual phone calls about 30 minutes before, then I arrived on time, and waited."


"A few people started wandering in about 15 minutes later, chatting on their phones with a coffee, others arrived and finally about 30% of the group was there."

"Well, is it ALWAYS this way, I mean, I've seen Italians come through with everything well organized and on time, haven't you?"

"oh, yes, of course, on time, everything prepared, perfectly, sometimes."

"Well, what is going on when it works? What is different? What works, when it works?

Her pumpkin ravioli froze in mid-air as she stopped to think, and down it went to rest on her plate as she continued to reflect. And I patiently waited. In silence.

Slowly she looked up, "that would be when they own the question. Then deadlines are not an issue, it all gets down, wonderfully and on time."

"So, what will you do next time you need to have everyone at a meeting?"

a domani,

January 30, 2010

Lunch alone

I have been doing a few 1-2 day cross-cultural training programs for incoming managers and (accompanying spouses) to Italy....and I have run into a reverse cross-cultural moment.

It has to do with lunch -- how Italian.

I spent a day with a couple in Milan, starting VERY promptly at 8:30am and finishing at 5:00pm. Part of the day was dedicated to general cultural awareness, culture shock, managing expectations etc, and another part on cultural differences in the workplace with the working spouse alone. The morning clicked along with a short coffee break.

Then 12:30 rolled around and they accompanied me downstairs to release me, saying, " let's meet back at 1:20" and off they went.

I was meant to eat lunch, ALONE.

Their assumption was that this was my break and that being with them was work, because what else could we possibly talk about over lunch, but work. This was a very short-term professional (work only) relationship and we all needed a break. Maybe I needed to sit over my computer and send email messages while dropping pizzette crumbs on the keyboard.

But I have been in Italy way tooooo long, and I felt as though I had been punched in my empty stomach. I instead had assumed that we would grab a bite together -- actually it had crossed my mind that we might even have a plate of something hot at their home....I thought we might chat about anything and everything BUT the work we had been doing all morning -- about the best places to ski, what I thought of Berlusconi, if they should think about buying a FIAT, what the winters are like in Milan -- ANYTHING. We could have had a nice break together. You know....the "pranzo" thing.

I felt like I must be a terrible person and that they hated me.

Ah yes, cultural differences. They thought they were being very respectful by allowing me time to myself, a work-break. I read it as disrespectful at being thrown out on the streets to fend for myself at a time like lunch!

It is the old personal / professional divide that Americans must work through when they hop over the pond and into Italy (France and Spain too).

While I didn't embarrass them by mentioning the "incident" (although I should have in retrospect..). I did emphasize that M. should never say "no" to a coffee or to lunch with his Italian colleagues and that these small rituals were key to the essential relationship building process that would make or break his successful assignment.

Now I have another 2 day training coming up and the global training company has put in my notes something about "lunch on my own"! The client is British though, so there is hope I will have company for my meal.

a presto,

January 15, 2010

Happy Birthday to all expat women

Birthdays are not just about getting older,

they are also about getting wiser,
listening more carefully,
responding to others,
fully engaging in the world,
having fun, and
finding a greater sense of purpose.

Happy Birthday to the Expat Women website and Auguri for their future!


a domani,