In one of the People and Business Management workshops that I facilitate we ask participants to outline how they would approach their first meeting as the manager of a multicultural team. I’m always pleasantly surprised by the imagination and inclusiveness of the responses.
Henry Mintzberg and Karl Moore suggest that “managers should be urged to become more worldly, not more global.” I think it’s a relevant suggestion for all.
The Oxford Dictionary defines worldly as “experienced in life, sophisticated, practical.” The worldly person seeks out diversity as a way to enhance his understanding of other cultures while adding nuance and appreciation to his inherited background.
The global person, on the other hand, conforms to an emerging singular culture.
Study suggests that if your language’s syntax blurs the difference between today and tomorrow as do, say, Chinese and German then you are more likely to save money, quit smoking, exercise and otherwise prepare for times to come.
On the other hand, if you have three dollars in your IRA and a big credit-card balance, it’s a safer bet you speak English or Hausa or Greek or some other language that forces speakers to distinguish present from future.
The point is not that some peoples are futureless—all human beings understand the difference between today and next year just fine, no matter what tongue they speak. But languages, as the linguist Roman Jakobson observed, differ in what they require speakers to think about.
11 Canadians living in the United States share what they miss most about home in Our True North.
I miss people minding their own business. I miss the politeness and courtesy. I miss the lack of drama and not taking oneself seriously. I miss the shades-of-grey world that is downtown Montreal. I miss Montreal’s food and its summer.
A trans-Atlantic culture clash at Alcatel-Lucent, the French-American telecommunications equipment maker created in a $10.7 billion merger two years ago, hit home when the company’s top two executives said they would step down.
Patricia F. Russo, the American chief executive, and Serge Tchuruk, the French chairman, said they would leave this year. The departures of the two executives, who engineered the original deal, follow months of pressure from shareholders upset over billions of dollars in losses since the companies combined.
Analysts were skeptical from the start about the acquisition of Lucent Technologies, based in Murray Hill, N.J., by Alcatel, based in Paris. Initial talks broke down in 2001, four years before a deal was announced, because executives at the two companies could not agree on how to share control. (…) “[I]f you take two guys with broken legs and tie a rope around them, they aren’t going to walk better,” Mr. Kerravala said.
The appointment of Ms. Russo, the former Lucent chief, as the leader of the combined company struck many as a recipe for misunderstandings. Ms. Russo does not speak French comfortably, and the language barrier is one of several cultural challenges that have troubled the company.
Roger Entner, a senior vice president and telecommunications analyst for Nielsen IAG, a market research firm, said that Lucent executives had also struggled to understand the close interplay between French bureaucrats and private-sector executives.
“You must sleep sometime between lunch and dinner,” Churchill said, explaining that this includes taking off one’s clothes and climbing into bed.
“Don’t think you will be doing less work because you sleep during the day. That’s a foolish notion held by people who have no imaginations. You will be able to accomplish more. You get two days in one.” (New York Times)
A professor of Nordic literature at the University of Helsinki, tells a joke. How do you know if the Finn on the elevator with you is outgoing? When he’s looking at your shoes instead of at his own.
The key to the Finnish character is quietude. Finns rarely enter into conversation with strangers; words are chosen carefully; small talk is considered suspect. Instead Finns revere “sacred silence” and hold that keeping quiet is healthy and promotes thoughtfulness.
(…) Some researchers view the trademark Finnish reticence as more pathological, linking it to depression and emotional repression and citing Finns’ high rates of suicide, alcoholism, and high blood pressure. In 2004, a theater director named Turo Herala made big news in Helsinki when he began offering anger-venting classes–a true novelty. “Anger in Finland is a bigger taboo than sex,” Herala explained to a reporter.
Laughing out loud isn’t common either. Children are taught early on to resist their impulses. Bragging about personal accomplishments is the worst thing a Finn can do. “If you can’t control yourself, you are regarded as immature,” explains Keltikangas-Järvinen.
Given the right situation, though, Finns can become excited and voluble. In the familiar environment of the sauna–there’s one for every two Finns–they sometimes become embarrassingly open and candid.
And things are changing; the technical revolution has kicked the shy Finn out of the closet. They are among the most wired–and wireless–people in the world; 95 percent own a cell phone. In the remote summer cottage, the modem Finn still finds his sacred silence, but nowadays he mixes the Internet with this primitive escape.