Category Archives: behaviour

A look on multi cultural diner customs

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


Diversity versus cultural intelligence

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.


Privileged a new scold?

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.”


Necessarity of routines

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.


What’s society so afraid of?


Have you ever been afraid? really feared for your existance; your life, your way off living? Well, I have. And it makes you shrink, your body, your brain, everything stops and you want to crawl back into a save place, and shut the door and window for everything. All creative thinking of how to solve a situation and a problem seem to have vanished into thin air.
Fear stinks, literally. Animals with a good sense of smell can be agressive when they smell fear, to protect themself and their flock/family.

Basically, fear is a healthy emotion when people feel threatened or endangered. The energy, emotions tend to produce, make it possible to react; freeze, run or attack.

When I look to western societies, nowadays, I see and smell fear.
I’m wondering what people fear so much?
There’s not a realistic life threatening fear, a fear the only solution is to run from it.
But what causes the fear that people want to close borders and shut themselves of from groups which made them stronger?
Is it fear for the continuity of their way of life?
Why people close their minds, their hearts, their houses, their borders.
A step further will be agression, as some people believe that attack is the best defence (very much a basic animal instinct, which people should be outgrown after 10.000.000 years).

I think it must have something to do with an invasion of influences that are threatening a away of live materialistic and inmatelerialistic (as; thoughts/ believes/ convictions/values of good and bad.)
The recession in a big part of the world
of the past 10 years have made many people uncertain and fearsome for their income, financial safety and the possibilties to maintain their way of live. 
In social democratic societies as in western europe, people saw how their social security (retirement, health care, education, right of income) was decreasing or getting very expensive. They saw how their values, as liberty and equality, meant that they had to share with even less fortunate. (It’s easier to blame those poor soles then reconsider your values).

“The more you’ve got the more you’ve got to lose”
That counts specially for the aging population of western europe, plus the older people get the more fearsome they are.

Because of globalisation you see that different thoughts/believes/convictions/values traditions and behaviour invade everyday live, and threaten peoples own original thoughts/believes/convictions/values/traditions/behaviour and cultural heritage.

A healthy and wise response to the emotion fear (very short) is to acknowledge the emotion fear, then you can research what it is exactly that makes you so afraid and think of a way how to handle it.
Societies are in someways just big bodies and should react the same -grown up- reaction as a normal human body.


Time or clock?

From a cultural perspective, time is a very interesting phenomenon. Because it depends in which culture and where you’ve been raised how you live with time.

“You’ve got the clock, we’ve got time”

Is an african saying. And like most sayings there’s some truth in that.

In most cities in Europe you’ve got clock- or bell towers (mostly in church towers) with a clock to show the time and a bell to ring every hour. 
For ages -since the clock was invented- people who lived in cities have a routine based on the clock.

In my family that was; wake up at 7, work starts at 9, coffee break at 11, lunch 12.30, tea break 15.00, 17.00 home, 18.00 diner, 20.00 coffee, 22.00 nightcap, 23.00 bedtime.

Mealtimes and sleep were more regulated by the clock then by hunger or fatigue. 
Even without a clock this routine is in my system.
I’ve got most energy to work in the morning, by 18.00 I’m starving and at 23.00hr. my personal light goes off.

With a clock divided in 12 hours and everywhere available people can be very effective using time in every hour. You can plan a task, how long does a task take and what can you do with the rest of the time. Or how long does it take to get somewhere and be in time for an appointment. Sometimes it is literally a race against the clock, to make all those plans and routines work.
In some cultural groups there might be -a not official- rule to be a fashionable late with 15-30 minutes, but that is still based on time.

The battery of my watch stopped. (and at the moment I haven’t got the time and energy to find out, if, where and how to replace watch-batteries here in Qatar, Middle East) 
As an independent/freelancer I’m not dictated by the regulated times of an office or school. working home here I find that I’m more depending on the call for prayer. I’ve got my lunch around midday prayer and start diner around 17.00. In the meantime I eat and drink when I’m hungry or thirsty.

Looking around me, I can tell people have a different routine, more regulated by the call for prayer, because you don’t insult someone by leaving for the reason of prayer. People here plan their days more between those prayer times.
I can also see that in these regions -close to the equator- the daily routine is based on the sun. the day starts at dawn before the sunrise, when it’s not so hot because of the sun, Have food and a rest during the hottest hours of the day and live starts up again when the sun sets.

There is definitely a logic in planning the days duties and daily routine everywhere in the world, it might depend on the possibilities of money and/or resources what and how much you can plan.
In cultures where they live by the clock/hour the routines are planned very effectively.
Still, I’m still considered ‘lazy’ as I stop at 17.00hr when I think my tasks are done. Me on my turn had to get used to people sleeping and shops and services closed during daytime and have to get out after diner to do my shopping or …. to get my watch fixed.IFGAblogperson