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Building Cultural Intelligence with Trisha Carter

Friday
Apr082016

Families Matter

Families matter.  Yours, mine – the families that make up our society – they all matter.

In the world of corporate global mobility families are often seen from a problem perspective.  

The 2015 Brookfield Global Mobility Survey reported, “‘Family concerns’ was the single most noted reason
 for assignment refusal. In addition, respondents
 cited it as the top reason for early assignment return and the third most commonly noted reason for assignment failure.”

This isn’t news; their latest report echoes similar results from previous years.

None of this comes as a surprise to the presenters and attendees at the recent Families in Global Transition Conference in the Netherlands.  

Yet at this vibrant, thought provoking event, while problems were acknowledged and discussed and best practices for support were shared, there was also an appreciation for the benefits gained from a globally mobile life.  Benefits of cultural understanding and global mindsets, of languages and empathy gained, of experiences and challenges mastered, of stories owned and shared.

There were inspiring examples of partners who have built careers that transcend visa restrictions and non-transferable qualifications, instead leveraging the power of both digital connections and real life supportive communities to build new employment paths.  There were stories of entrepreneurs creating a number of those communities, and those helping others to think beyond the limitations of traditional careers they might have considered back home. 

The real-world challenges facing globally mobile families were also highlighted.

Rachel Yates of Expat LifeLine challenged expat partners not to fall into 50s style gender inequality mindsets, relying on a partner for income, future savings, and fulfillment. Instead she encouraged expat women to build independent resources, strength and security, and take ownership of the messages that they see, hear and send.

It echoed the timely advice offered by Lucy Greenwood, Partner at The International Family Law Group, who dispelled many of the legal myths about divorce overseas. (The most common one? Believing you’re protected by the law of the country you got married in. You’re not.)

It’s a topic close to the heart of Katia Vlachos, who led a workshop titled “When Love Runs Out” and has recently published on this sorely needed topic. 

Conference attendees were challenged to lift our thinking beyond our current sectors (corporate, educational, diplomatic etc.), see the broader picture of those impacted by transitions and consider how our skills, experience and empathy can assist the growing refugee communities in the world.

Families matter. They aren’t a problem – they are an opportunity for support and belonging on global journeys.

PS I've just seen this great article published by another of the wonderful people I met at FIGT Veronica Lysaght.  Read it to learn more about the issues of expat partners.


 

Friday
Feb192016

Benefits of Diversity

Surprisingly there are still many people in the business world who are not really open to welcoming a diverse group to the business table.

There’s no doubt that diversity can bring some challenges and that’s often where the conversation starts. But I’ve always hated the problem-oriented approach.  In this blog I want to focus on the benefits of a diverse group.

What can we gain if our organisations do what needs to be done to support and develop diversity?

Click to read more ...

Monday
Jan112016

Communication – Aussie Slang

Language is central to communication and also to cultural identity.  

So it’s no surprise that we adapt our language with our culture.  In Australia the English spoken may be difficult for new arrivals to understand.  Accent, indistinct pronunciation, slang and diminutives can take some getting used to.

If you are expecting colourful metaphors and similes (“mad as a cut snake”, “flat out like a lizard drinking” “a face like a robber’s dog”) you may be disappointed if you are working in the business environment in Sydney or Melbourne. 

But listen out for Aussie abbreviations, which will be heard often.  This video covers many of them.

 

And if you are interested in improving your global communications skills take a look at our upcoming webinar.

Wednesday
Dec302015

Effective leaders in a global world

In a year that began with a major terrorist attack in January and ended with increasing numbers of horrific events in many cities around the world it could be tempting for us to pull back from the wider world.  To gather with those like us, to enjoy the comfort and perceived safety of familiarity.

The reality is, now more than ever; we need the benefits of a team drawn from different areas of the world.  We need people comfortable with languages, cultures and religious beliefs other than their own. 

We need leaders who can think broadly and creatively to take advantage of the opportunities and develop the solutions the global world needs.

We need leaders who can lead with wisdom, with compassion, with courage. 

We need leaders who value and appreciate diversity, instead of just tolerating it.

Even worse than just tolerating diverstiy there are still leaders who are uncomfortable with or afraid of diversity.

I’m not saying it’s easy. 

Our most natural responses, those ingrained within us, often lead us away from diversity towards uniformity.  The bias is unconscious.  But the evidence shows that we tend to feel greater trust and empathy toward people who are similar to ourselves, part of the same social circles.  We feel greater distrust and reduced empathy toward those who are perceived as dissimilar and members of other social groups.

Sadly the evidence also shows that knowing that research doesn’t lead to us changing our behaviours.  Awareness is practically useless.

Instead we need concrete strategies and steps to follow.  We need strategies that will be successful within the national, organisational and group cultures where we work.

We need leaders with cultural intelligence who can build culturally intelligent teams and develop effective strategies. 

The good news is we can do it.

This article was first published as part of Gihan Perera's e-book "Expect More from 2016" which you can download here

Friday
Dec182015

December Celebrations

Here in Australia as we race through the last days of work before winding down for a Christmas and summer break it can feel like all the world is shopping, decorating, baking and looking towards the Christmas holiday that begins on the 25th of December. Of course we know the reality is different.

Around the world different religious and secular celebrations are being held or looked forward to and even for those who celebrate the Christian festival there are many different dates and ways of celebrating. 

Click to read more ...