Smiiiile! (or….maybe don’t?)

Some days ago I went to my manicurist for a manicure, a latte macchiato and a nice chat (yes, it’s a hard life, I know). When I entered, two women sitting at the other manicure table looked at me and gave me beaming smiles. I stopped and through my mind raced a worried thought: “Do I know these ladies? I’ve never seen the one lady and the other just started working here, I think I saw her once for two minutes. So, if I don’t know them, why are they smiling at me like I’m their long-lost sister? What’s wrong with them?” Your reaction to my reaction will probably depend on your own culture – are you from a culture where there is a lot of smiling or one where, like in Germany, smiles are used more sparingly?

Don’t worry, we do smile in Germany. Even at strangers – my favourite cashier at Rewe always greets people with a nice smile. But we don’t smile as often as people from some other countries do and a smile (outside of customer service) connotates some familiarity. If you smile too much (also meaning the degree of the smile) at people you don’t or hardly know, they might be bewildered. The explanations of why some cultures smile more than others are varied and sometimes even contradictory, but there are some interesting reasons of why people (don’t) smile. Continue reading “Smiiiile! (or….maybe don’t?)”

When you are your own pressure cooker

One of the many perks of my job is that I meet a lot of remarkable people. I work with company expats mainly and usually a company sends only those abroad who have a good track record or promising potential. What I find even more interesting is the mindset of these expats and their families – most of them come into the training with an honest curiosity about other cultures, an openness to shift their perspective, and a growing number of them already have international experience. It is, quite simply, fun to talk to them, to listen to their opinions, experiences and expectations. While I’m there as the trainer, I do learn a lot from my training participants as well, which is not only interesting for myself but helps me to become a better trainer continuously.

I could go on praising my training participants, but that is not the focus of this article, though they do deserve praise and thanks for enriching my job and life. Still, it’s now time to get to the point here, after all I’m German and that’s what we do. Continue reading “When you are your own pressure cooker”