Tag Archives: communication

Farewells and goodbyes

Live is very controversial, I think everything-, every situation-, everybody- got a good and a bad site. Even when it’s hard to see sometimes.

Last week was hard, very hard and many tears have flown when I had to say my farewells and goodbyes to all the lovely people I’ve met and got to know in Qatar.  

I’ve been through this already a couple of times and I know there are a lot of people which I will never see again and people I might meet again. Inshallah. The funny thing is though you never know exactly who. People you considered as good friends, you might never hear from and people who where, kind of random, might keep in contact. Some people are good in keeping contact by writing and social media, some people don’t. However the connection will change when there’s no live contact. 

Keeping contact is harder when you don’t share the same live or know the same people and have similar experiences you can compare and share. Actually it is a simple communication thing; In a normal communication, partner 1 tells something and partner 2 listens and can react. In case you don’t share experiences it’s a tell and listen and there’s not much possibilities of a reaction so you can’t say it’s a conversation. Most people are not interested in having a conversation about things they can’t relate to and cannot respond. 

Another thing is that not many people have the curiousity or fantasy to imagine what the other partner is talking about. And even if partners do have situations, people and topics they’re both familiar with, these people, situations and topics have changed in time aswell but the memory didn’t change. 

It’s easier to keep in contact with the people you are used to chat with then the people you had serious conversations with. My children are already much more used to the chatter way of communication. As soon as they wrote they where going to the Netherlands all kind of old friends popped up and got in contact again. 

I’ve cried a lot this week and for sure it was sad but I’m also very happy that I’ve got reasons to shed those tears. That there are so many people in my live worth to shed those tears for. 

Farewells and goodbyes are a very intens part of the transition fase in culture shock. It’s also a very important step in the transition you should take, how painfull that might be. Those goodbyes and farewells make you become aware of all the people and big and little situations you value and care for. Knowing what you value for, makes it easier to find new people and create new situations you feel comfortable with.

This time it was me saying my goodbyes. In the expat life though it happens more often that the people leave whom I valued as a part of my life and I’m the one who’s left behind. That’s much harder as you have to make a familiar situation comfortable again without the person who has left.


Cultural Intelligence

My Children are real global citizens, “where ever they lay their head that’s their home”. They’re raised multi-cultural, even more then I sometimes realise.
They are growing up fast now. They start to be young adults with all the ups and downs. I find it sometimes hard to let go and to admit that they’re intelligent personalities and do have good thoughts and ideas. I can learn a lot from them nowadays!

It were my children who -politely- tried to tell me that my goals for the International Feelgood Academy, (by sharing knowledge and experiences, learning to enjoy our differences) are not going to work . “ it was ‘soooooo Dutch’ to think that people from other cultures were going to share their thoughts about cultural sensitive topics with me; a white woman, even not a friend or family member.”
My children are absolutely right, I know -although I tend to forget it sometimes-. The knowledge that they were right discouraged me, I had a couple of experiences by hand myself that I’m ‘too Dutch’ as-well; My interest and curiosity in what/how and why other people moves is not being much appriciated. I’m too direct and open and expect that from others too.

A couple of years ago I had a chat with my Australian neighbour about something political -I can’t even remember what- but after that chat she obviously avoided me. Then I realised she must have been very uncomfortable about that specific chat. So I rang her doorbell (so she could not avoid me) and I told her how much I had enjoyed our chat and how much I appreciated her sharing her thoughts and ideas with me, I really learned something from that chat, it made my world a little bit bigger. It took her a while; she had to think about my approach to a discussion, in which we not naturally agreed about. She agreed with me hesitatingly, but we never had the same talks again. I was to afraid to loose also the small talks.

It depressed me for a while. Then again it were my children who convinced to keep on going 
“Mom, you see things, and with your experience and knowledge of human nature and different cultures you put cultural topics in a different perspective and give it a twist. Maybe people don’t join in the way you want to but you give people something to think about and raise some understanding.”
And that is actually where cultural intelligence is all about.IFGAblogperson

Culture differences and greetings

There are visible and non visible culture differences; The visible culture differences are how people live (apartments, high-rise, huts, villas, terraced houses? in cities or villages), how they dress (warm, cold, covering, showing); What/who they love and celebrate (the heroes, the festivals, the food, the music, the books) and how they behave (greetings, managing time and the people around). 
Most of this differences you can get used to, in time, because it’s mostly behaviour; it’s about the way people show their culture and use their environment. 
You might prefer another behaviour but you will get used to it.

At the moment I live in Qatar, a small desert nation. The boys learn to ride a car in the desert. They can drive a car alright, but driving in traffic is something completely different. I would prefer if they would stick to traffic rules it would make my life much less dangerous but I got used to it and on the other side….. Not all the rules are very convenient at times and I must say I like those wild desert rides too.

A very important aspect of the visible culture differences is behaviour; the way people react on certain situations. 
A reaction is often based on believes, it’s about expectations, it’s about assumptions, it’s about values, it’s about thoughts, it’s about feelings and emotions. And those are not visible but very important for behaviour, certainly in relation to cultures and it’s differences and how people deal with them.
People want to know (conscious and unconscious) what the right way is to react according to the judgement of the social group they (want to) belong to, so they don’t become an ‘outlaw’ or be alone. 
It can be quite scary and uncomfortable when you don’t know how to react in certain situations.

I do live a very international live and I’ve got friends from all over the world and every time I meet some of them I have to think. “Just shaking hands? hug? 1,2 or 3 kisses? on the cheek? (one cheek or two, where do you start your first kiss???) bow? or just a shoulder pat?

Knowing about these different ways of greetings helps to understand and accept how people say hello.

When my old Japanese neighbour bows deep, it’s for her to show her respect, she doesn’t want to be cold or distant while I rather want to hug her after 3 years but that would be very uncomfortable for her. 

It helps a lot to know that I felt obstructed while her attentions would be that I feel respected. I can accept her ways and adapt mine, so we both feel good.

And in the end when I leave she will still got that hug, just because I know she can handle our differences too.IFGAblogperson


When we talk we share knowledge
when we listen we learn

For me, going out for diner is a cultural event. I love to see the connection between people on other tables; the different conversations in groups, the focussed conversations between business men, the non conversations between couples, or -like last night the twittering conversation between a group of women. (Twitter is a real good name for that medium) the ladies just talked, almost all at the same time and didn’t seem to expect an answer. To me it looked like nobody was listening to what the other said.
It triggered me and I realised that there’s a difference between hearing and listening; Hearing is the physical part of listening, listening is the psychological part or the part where the brain comes in.

I looked up some facts for you;

– Only a quarter from what you hear will be heard.
– By listening you show interest in a person; you show interest/respect in the words someone says and the thoughts (s)he has.
– Listening is part of communication; only when there is a speaker AND a listener you can have a conversation and a connection between two people.
– You can listen to -4X  more- words then speak, which means that there is space in your head for other thoughts, like how to react.  As soon as you’re thinking about how to react you get busy; remembering how to react and waiting for the time you can put in your reacting. You’ll be so busy, you forget to listen to the rest of what’s being said.
– In some languages listening is another word of obeying, like when parents say to the children “you’re not listening to me” they actual mean you’re not obeying me.
– Most people seem to like talking specially about themselves much more than listening.

It’s hard for me to believe that those ladies last night had a conversation, yet there must be a form of communication and sharing some information. Sometimes it has to do with the language, in some languages the most import information of a sentence is given in the beginning of the sentence, so you can start thinking without really missing any information. I think I would like that too. On the other hand, people will never get heard or have the feeling of being listened to and – valued.

Now, knowing how hard it is to listen, even in your own language and in your own culture. I realise how much miscommunication must occur when having a conversation with someone in another language and culture.

I like to challenge you to really listen to somebody else; repeat after your partner has finished speaking what (s)he said. and then focus on the answer you like to give.
I would love to hear your experiences.