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trompenaars

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How do you show respect?

Pic Credit: Ambro

Pic Credit: Ambro

How we accord status and who we respect is largely influenced by our cultural programming. 

Generally speaking, if you're raised in Northern or Western countries, knowledge and experience are important. So you will more naturally respect people for what they do, especially when they are "self-made", "accountable", and "go-getters". Trompenaars called this an Achievement culture. 

If you're raised in Southern or Eastern countries, generally speaking, it's more important who you are. You are probably more likely to respect people for their family name, the position they hold, their age and seniority. Trompenaars called this an Ascription culture. 

What does this mean in global business teams? 

When people from achievement and ascription cultures work together, they will show trust, respect, and leadership in different ways. They will also negotiate and communicate differently.  

Achievement

For example, in Germany, team members may openly disagree with their boss during a meeting. This is seen as an exertion of their expertise; it is their job to speak up when they see something is not right or not working. That's what they were hired to do: take responsibility for their piece of the puzzle. They show respect by asking questions.

Someone who always agrees and says "yes" to everything will not be trusted.

Someone who doesn't keep eye contact will not be trusted.

Someone with various degrees may be respected, but only if they can follow up and apply their knowledge to actual problems.

To lead means to take responsibility and make decisions.

Communication is quite direct, simple yes and no answers are welcomed - they are short and efficient.

Negotiations will not be overly drawn out or going through too many rounds, because everyone is aware of the rules and pricing is set at a fair point from the get-go. 

Ascription

For example, in Korea, team members will not openly disagree with their boss during a meeting; on the contrary. They show respect by taking the blame on them if the boss messes up. 

Excessive eye contact may be rude, and trust is established over years of friendships or shared connections.

Team members take responsibility for one another, and would be uncomfortable if singled out. That's why incentives pay rarely work; when one person is selected to receive a bonus or even go attend a special training, they will feel obliged to buy presents for the rest of the team who can't go to save face and remain a member of the in-group.

To lead means to take responsibility for the people who work for you.

Communication is indirect, and a direct "no" would be considered rude.

Negotiations or business talk will take time, because trust has to be established first and can be a long drawn-out process. Contracts may be seen as a starting point for the relationship, and flexibility to change contracts is expected.  

 

Bridging the gap

If you're from an achievement culture working for an ascription leader,

  • try not to disagree out loud in front of others.
  • Know that they may not see you as equal and might therefore be uncomfortable if you invite them out for happy-hour after work.
  • If you work with ascription team members, ask open-ended questions and watch for body-language cues. They may not tell you "no".

If you're from an ascription culture working for an achievement leader,

  • know that your opinion is valued and that it's ok for you to give it.
  • Of course, Westerners also get embarrassed, but if your feedback is too indirect, they may not hear you.
  • If you work with achievement team members, prepare for constructive feedback and learn to differentiate between the relationship and the task.
  • Criticism is rarely directed at the person, but more on aspects of how the job is done. 

Within those broad cultural differences, I also believe our personality type plays a role. In this case, our Temperament: 

People with a Theorist™ Temperament value expertise, knowledge, competence, and self-control. If they have posters up on their walls or screensavers it's likely smart experts and pioneering visionaries like Einstein or Jobs. 

People with a Catalyst™ Temperament value meaning, significance, and unique identity. They are likely inspired by authentic role models who share their journey to self-realization like Brené Brown or Oprah.  

People with a Stabilizer™ Temperament value membership, belonging, responsibility, and duty. They are likely admiring others who serve society; the every-day heroes we see in soldiers, fire fighters, and nurses.  

People with an Improviser™ Temperament value the freedom to act now, and the ability to make an impact. They may be motivated to get active for causes they believe in, or be fans of entertainers. 

So - who do you respect, and how do you show it?

UPDATE / ADDENDUM:

I love how the answer to most question seems to be "yes, and" and "depends". The article below emphasizes how both approaches have advantages and disadvantages, and I've laid out how the location / nationality makes a difference. In other words: use both as needed, and start with the people in mind.  

from "Connect, then lead" at http://hbr.org/2013/07/connect-then-lead/ar/1 

Most leaders today tend to emphasize their strength, competence, and credentials in the workplace, but that is exactly the wrong approach. Leaders who project strength before establishing trust run the risk of eliciting fear, and along with it a host of dysfunctional behaviors. Fear can undermine cognitive potential, creativity, and problem solving, and cause employees to get stuck and even disengage. (...)
A growing body of research suggests that the way to influence—and to lead—is to begin with warmth. Warmth is the conduit of influence: It facilitates trust and the communication and absorption of ideas. Even a few small nonverbal signals—a nod, a smile, an open gesture—can show people that you’re pleased to be in their company and attentive to their concerns. Prioritizing warmth helps you connect immediately with those around you, demonstrating that you hear them, understand them, and can be trusted by them.

 

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How much can we really control?

Following on from yesterday, I'd like to explore the whole purpose and passion thing a bit further. Thanks for working through this with me, and please leave your comments. :-)

I'm a rather pragmatic one. I like facts and tangible outcomes, despite my processing information preference of Intuiting. That's probably part of my German heritage. So, when I try to learn about higher planes and spirituality in general, there's resistance. Transcending all the physical planes is tough, especially if you only start learning about it as an adult.

Well, you gotta start somewhere. One of Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner's cross-cultural dimensions looks at where we think the locus of control is - External (Being) or Internal (Doing). Can we control our environment (Internal) or are things generally out of our hands (External)?

Here's how I've come to see it: when we're born into this world, we're all given a boat. This isn't your usual "we're all in the same boat" metaphor, oh no. Quite the contrary: we all have an individual boat.

It carries us up or down the stream; we can steer it wherever we want. The boat is only big enough for one person though. If we burden ourselves with other people's drama and problems, we run the risk of overloading. If we make ourselves responsible for someone else, we'll go under - even and especially a mother has to let her child go to steer their own boat. If we hang on to too many possessions and try to take everything with us, we'll capsize.  

Conclusion: each of us has our own wee boat, to take care of and maintain, to steer where we will. But no matter how nice and nimble the boat, we can't influence the flow of the river.

I still haven't landed on what to call it. The word God has so many Christian connotations for me that I probably wouldn't call it that. Dogma is scary, and this nice, good, transcendent big thing doesn't care who anyone sleeps with. Is it Love? The Universe? Life? Cosmic Consciousness? Bob? Daisy? What do you call it?

If you haven't seen it already, I thoroughly recommend this stunning TED talk by Jill Bolte-Taylor. She experienced the one-ness with everything while her left brain hemisphere shut down as she was suffering a stroke.  

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Step 1 - Get to know myself (again)

Pic Credit teachernz I first wrote about Getting to know myself back in 2008. Here's what I'd like to add: Personality Type and cultural preferences provide a nice framework to begin thinking about where some of my behaviors might come from. My cultural background explains some of what's important to me, and Type is a unique personal and professional development tool, helping me appreciate my own strengths and opportunities for growth, as well as appreciate those points in others.

I best identify with ENFJ preferences. I may not look like an ENFJ all the time, because in my job I'm often dealing with groups and paying attention to details, seeming like an ESFP. When I work from home, I'm quite comfortable spending hours alone, reading and writing online. But the pattern is there:

"mentoring, leading people to achieve their potential and become more of who they are." (Berens, Nardi, 2004)

The first thing I want to do when meeting old and new friends is connect. Holding a space for others is important to me, although I might get too excited and just start blabbering. Staying with myself without getting absorbed into other people's drama or take on their feelings as my own is a continuous conscious exercise. Dipping into a sea of knowing what's going to happen and how someone will react to a certain situation happens unconsciously. Yet when I try to pay attention to the vibe it may disappear. I love going for walks and doing Yoga or Zumba relaxes me; my body may be tired but my mind is usually alert after exercise.

I'm not sure how my extraverted Feeling and introverted Intuiting preferences were nurtured growing up. I remember lots of feeling bad for others and wanting to please everyone and fit in, often without success. At any given time I had maybe one or two "best" friends. Lots of acquaintances, but not many friends, at least by my definition. Still, I remember lending an ear and giving advice on many matters to many people. I remember making mistakes and seeking approval in many wrong places. I know I read a lot; my parents are still sorting out boxes upon boxes of books I left behind.

Growing up in my parents' house, realistic pragmatism (is there any other kind?) definitely dominated the everyday environment. On Hofstede's cultural dimensions, Germany scores high in the Uncertainty Avoidance Index. That means Germans like to know what happens and be prepared, avoiding uncertainty wherever we can. A big part of me wants to know what the future holds, but there are also examples in my past where I jumped in without knowing what was going to happen. None of my international moves were thoroughly planned in any way - that's why I like to share what I learned to save other expats the time and tears.

Flaggen_Still, I'm very German in my approach to communication - direct and straightforward, little to no beating around the bush. Swearwords? Not a problem. I appreciate a good rational argument, but may not be able to follow your logic. On Trompenaars' dimensions, I fall on the Universalist (the same rules apply to everyone) and Achievement (respect for what you've done, not who you are) sides. Competence and expertise are important to me. I couldn't stand it if anyone thought I was an impostor. Over time, my opinion of punctuality has been taken over by a slight mediterranean influence - but I'll still let you know when I'm running late. Keeping people waiting without even the courtesy of a call or text message would be disrespectful.

Unfortunately, self-examination is not always a helpful tool when you really want to get to know yourself. I've recently asked former and current colleagues and friends to choose some adjectives (based on Linda Berens' Interaction Styles) to describe me, and it's interesting and challenging to recognize I may not appear to others as I do to myself. I still think it's a great exercise to engage in from time to time - getting to know yourself all over again.

 

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