Oops, Within the first week with my new car I received 2 traffic tickets for driving too fast. Yep, it’s a small and fast car, -the first time not a family car-. It accelerates easy and is very silent so I don’t hear on the motor how fast I drive, which I could tell with my previous cars.
Traffic rules and all rules in general, are pragmatic agreements in behaviour to keep everybody save and comfortable. When everybody knows and follows the rules, situations become very predictable and you can’t make stupid or strange mistakes.
I’m a bit rebellious and it took me almost 50 years to acknowledge that there’s some good in rules.
I even bought a book about the ‘etiquette’, social rules, how to behave in social situations. And believe it or not, even I think it makes sense when you read about the history and the logic behind some of those stupid ‘rules’.
For example; ‘combatting’ the stairs in man/woman situation, a man should be ahead of the lady going up and behind going down so he can’t peek under the skirt. With the steep stairs in the Netherlands and the short skirts girls are wearing, I understand. In countries where women are covered, you won’t find those rules and the rule will rather be that the man goes behind the woman up the stairs and in front going down to help her in case she stumbles over the long clothing. Or When kissing is part of the greeting ritual, you start with the right cheek. (that would avoid painful collisions).
In traffic situations I do believe some rules are good and do make sense; don’t drink and drive or speed limits within urbanborders. I even think sometimes 50km/h is too fast, when you consider how many un-overseen situations with children, animals and bikes can happen. I really think there should be more control in these situations.
But no, there are automatic speed camera’s, who don’t consider the situation but only the procedure; when I drive during the holiday season at night 116km instead of 100km.
This has nothing to do anymore with the benefit of rules, to keep people save. It’s only about follow rules and procedures and making money.
I will get used to that just like I got used to the unpredictable driving with the multicultural driving styles in Qatar, but I’m afraid I will find it hard to accept that I have to follow procedures in case the rules don’t make sense.
There are a few features which we use to compare- and analyse multiple cultures. One of them is the difference between a collective- or individualistic cultures. It’s about preceding needs; the collective needs (the needs of the family, clan or group) or the individual needs (personal needs).
When you are aware of these distinctions, it’s great to see how these show in daily live and how they can cause some awkward situations.
Let’s go for diner.
Untill recently, in restaurants, I always made my own choice and ordered my own food. That’s how it works in most western restaurants but in restaurants with a collective culture you order multiple dishes to share and there’s one person who orders all, after decided what everybody would like to eat.
Knowing this, it makes sense why the chinese restaurants always have such big portions; A portion is to share and not for one person alone.
I always thought it was cheap to give more rice than anything else at the chinese, but now I understand that the rice is in portions to share with everybody, just like all the several other dishes.
There is less distinction between appetizers and main coarse but a choice between meats, vegetables, rice and different sorts of food.
In the individual orientated restaurants, the different coarses give a diversity in the food you order, in collective orientated restaurants it’s the selection of the dishes that gives the diversity.
Collective eaters will take more time to eat from the different dishes, as they don’t have more coarses with time between to wait and digest for the next dish.
I thought that my ‘bonus’ son was picky and didn’t like my food, he on the other hand was nervous because we eat so fast. We acknowledged that we had different customs and talked about it.
It’s so much easier to accept different behaviour when you understand.
And we found ways to mix and match our diner cultures. Buffet style diners works for everybody.
It’s so nice to be able to combine those cultures. It makes my live so much more divers and interesting, just because I can appreciate and choose between the advantages of diversity
Why my blog is not diversity based
A friend of mine adviced me to tag diversity in my blogs that would score a lot of hits. But I’m so tired of the whole diversity topic; “Diversity at work”, “managing diversity”. It’s what I’ve studied, how to train people in dealing with diversity.
Learning people to deal with diversity is like training a dog to sit and give a paw. They only do the trick but not by conviction.
Of course you can train people how to react in certain situations. But that doesn’t change people. Besides situations do change very fast, so the trick will be outdated in no time.
“No” I’m much more interested in reasons
Why is it neccesary to learn people to deal with diversity? For most of us already live and work in a divers society, especially the young people. Not only cultural diversity but also gender- and age diversity.
Why the groups and people I train are not so divers? Dealing with diversity is mutual not a one way.
Why do I see a growing cultural intolerance a growing fatigue of diversity and globalisation
I want to find out
How people can build bridges between all kind of different people,
How people can live together and enjoy our differences.
Not only you and me but everybody, dealing with diversity is not a one way thing.
Diversity is a fact,if you like it or not, even if you’re not living with cultural diversity, you live with gender- and age diversity.
Not accepting diversity in a society is scarry and leads in extrems to genocide.
I’m interested to see if Cultural Intelligence is an answer. Just like brain intelligence and emotional intelligence have helped us grow as persons, cultural intelligence might help us grow as humans.
In my blogs I try to approach daily and worldwide situations in a cultural intelligent way so we learn to enjoy our differences.
I’m a white person (no worries I’m not offended, as I am white and I like my cheese too, so no offence if you call me cheesehead) who are a minority in Qatar.
The new scold word seems to be ‘being privileged’, I’m not offended as I think I’m lucky indeed. But the negative tone in which it has been said hurts, as if I’m a bad person being priviliged?!
My children are few of the privileged people who pay a lot of money to join a service trip in Africa, helping to build a school. Take my word, you can have a luxury family holiday instead. Service wise I don’t think the children are much of a help, but they learn something out of the experience. Most of all that it’s all about money and not so much about interaction or coming together.
My daughter came home very confused. During the trip, there was one moment the children were allowed to play with the kindergarten children and speak english with them.
All the little girls wanted to sit on my daughter’s lap and touch her hair, she’s got long blond hair, you must know.
She asked the girls why they wanted to sit with her all the time.
A: “Because you look like an angel”
“I’m not and I think YOU look like an angel”
A:“No I’m black” My daughter was only 15 years at that time and the girl 5 or so, she was flabbergasted and very frustrated
“Mam, what on the …….. can you do when people have such a low self-image?”
In the psychology there’s a theory that says that what you say/believe/think/convinced of, tells a lot about yourself.
When people point at me that I’m priviliged, they put themselves, in a roll of accuser or victim at the same time.
Like the theory of mr. Karpman says, it will become a drama when I want to save them. Because, I can not change a situation, at most I can help out in certain situations, using my talents and skills (i.e. sending in money via my daughter) but I can’t save anybody from their own believes/thoughts or convictions and I can’t help somebody who keeps accusing others or pitying themselves.
“What can you do…..?”
“Believe you’re an angel and if you want I would love to try flying together” That might have been an answer.”
Let me picture a situation;
Me, a white Dutch woman and my dog in a islamic desert country.
In Holland most people don’t have big gardens or yards where we can keep our dogs. So most dogs are inside the house and part of the family.
For the usuall toilet needs, we take the dog outside, into public area’s. Again, there is no space for gardens and yards. Besides Dutch people grow up with the idea that you don’t befoul ‘your nest’. Most ‘good’ dog owners will not allow the dog to do his needs on places where people tend to walk/play or sit and pick up the poo and throw it away in special bags, so it won’t bother not-dog-owners. The rain will flush away the rest.
Now in Qatar. I learned most people consider dogs as dirty and scary, maybe some consider the dog as a friend, but certainly not as a family member.
The stares Dibbles and I get, when I walk him outside on an empty plot of land where he can run free, are very uncomfortable.
It took me a while before I figured out that it’s absolute uncommon for a woman to walk outside alone and then there was the dog! They could not picture him worth to take risks of, yes of what?? I avoid crowded and public spaces anyway, as dogs are nowhere allowed.
And then I saw a guy how he put out his shoes and wriggled his feet in pure enjoyment in that little piece of free grass where Dibbles just…….. well you get the picture. It opened up something in my mind, why do I let my dog do his toilet in public places? I could see the good part of why people keep their dogs in gardens or yards and not train them to do their needs outside.
Yet I’m convinced it’s better for dog and boss to have a walk for at least half an hour everyday. A dog needs physical exercise even more then us humans as they don’t have to work at all anymore to get their food. But I also know not everybody has got the space to keep the dog in the yard.
So there’s the dilemma;
Cultural sensitive as I am, I see and understand why people, who don’t own a dog, don’t like dogs in public/open areas, even if they clean up. On the other hand I also know how beautiful it is to share the friendship and love with a dog. I treasure my walks outside everyday and taking him everywhere I go (In Holland that is and my dog is well trained) He makes me feel save and is my ambassador to other people.
If I would act cultural sensitive I would stop my walks and train Dibbles to do his toilet in a catbin(??), or something like that.
Someway that would be stupid as Dibbles and I would both suffer from not enough exercise and outdoor experience and won’t become a happier and open minded person, as I would hate the whingers who made me imprisson my dog.
So we must think of a cultural smart/intelligent way in which we consider other people as my -wigly toe grass man- but also my needs.
That’s what Cultural Intelligence is about; not just about management, team work and politics, but also about all the small things in life, about living together.
3 Months ago we had to move house, to a different part of the city. Even it was a move in the a city I already knew, it’s only now that I can say that I’m getting used to my new surroundings. After 3 months I can drive home without thinking about how and when the easiest route to come home. I can look around again, check- and enjoy my surroundings. (Although it’s in the city this area must have been an agricultural area as there’re sheep and camels around the corner!) My drive home has become a routine!
Routine is doing tasks without -much- thinking/ without taking much energy (i.e. brain energy). People need a routine to forfill their duties comfortably. It gives time and energy for more fun things or for tasks that require more energy. Our morningrush is under control and that means we can have a quiet breakfast, we can even have a chat about instead of ticking of the list of duties for everyone and running to get to school/work in time.
The routine makes the start of the day a lot less complicated and us function better the rest of the day.
In a couple of weeks though the comfortable routine will become TOO much of a routine and turns to become a habit or custom; A regular tendency of practice or procedures, especially ones that are hard to give up (wikipedia).
Everything in live which is “TOO” is not good. A habit can turn into an addiction, which we can’t do without. TOO much of the routine means we lose the flexibility to react on changes without being knocked out of our comfortzone, it’s killing our problem solving skills.
Can you imagine the stress it will cause when there are roadworks on the familiar route!?!?
Last week I wrote about fear. But writing about fear made me realise that fear also has got everything to do with trust.
Fear is a lack of trust; a trust that ‘it will be alright’.
In many ways I’m very privileged; I come from a society where I can trust the health system, police and government; that they will try to; keep- and make me healthy and act according the law and if not I can go to court. That doesn’t mean I agree with everything but at least I know I have got rights.
I’m also confident with myself that I’ve got enough knowledge and strength to solve the problems I met.
Here in the Middle East I haven’t got that trust. As a white, confident and independent woman you never can be sure; If, how and when you will be judged when/if you do something wrong (even if other men do the same). Let alone the consequences.
I think this very uncomfortable feeling, comes close to fear.
I can feel it in my throat; like a bone stuck deep in my throat.
I’ve got that feeling too when I’m watching the news or reading papers? I don’t trust journalism anymore;
-knowing how journalist get their information,
-knowing how news depends on the point of view,
-knowing what kind of news ‘sales’ and
-knowing that certain news will reach me and other news won’t because I’m not in the ‘liking’ list.
It makes me afraid because I don’t have the control anymore over my trust in the things I hear/ read which are the base of my ideas of good and bad, my values and I have no idea how to solve this problem.
It makes me frustrated and angry. I hear and see a lot of signs that other people feel the same. And that’s scary, because I know by experience that for me ‘it will be allright’ I’ve been in more similar situations of loss of control and feeling out of my comfort zone but I know most people haven’t and I don’t trust most people to act in a smart way as I know that fear will interfere with the ability of people to think logically and ahead.