Why it is not wise to share your views on what happened in the U.S. Capitol with your American colleagues?

7 January 2021 by Marjoleine van Sinderen, 4c Unity

You might have an opinion about what happened in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C, yesterday and right now, but please don’t share it with your American colleagues, partners, suppliers, clients, etc. for the sake of your relationship with them. Why? Some suggestions on what to say and what not to say.

Many of us like an intensive debate

In many European countries (not all!), having a clear opinion and sharing it, is very normal. Many of us like a good discussion and even an intensive debate and show how well informed, well-read, intelligent and well-spoken we are. We love to come up with smart arguments, like to challenge each other, like to be intellectual challenged with the assurance we don’t offend each other. It is seen as a verbal brawl. It strengthens and sharpens the intellect. In some European countries (not all!), many subjects can be discussed without being insulting. Please, one moment. Hold your horses. Cherish your working relationship or look forward to a good relationship with Americans.

Politics is a controversial topic for Americans

Subjects such as politics, religion and sex could be very sensitive in the U.S, so steer clear of those. Americans don’t like to talk about controversial topics and like to avoid any statement that can damage a relationship. They like to avoid clear differences in opinions. Showing that you think independently and critically will be uncomfortable for them. They don’t like you to point out weak points. In discussions you may prefer to compare, contrast and to learn from each other, but Americans will feel this as provoking and will be insulted.

Don’t touch their sense of pride

Many Americans are proud of themselves, their family, their company, their country and their democracy. Many of them truly believe that ‘they are the best’. They are proud and positive. Do not touch their sense of pride. Why would you? To teach them a lesson? O, come on! Don’t go there. Don’t fall into that trap.

What can you do when they discuss the current situation?

Just listen. Listen with respect. Show you are interested with sounds like ‘mm’, ‘aha’, ‘yeah’, ‘I see’, ‘I hear you’ and ‘I am sorry’. You might consider to ask a question, but a non-suggestive question! Don’t let your opinion show through.

What if they share their strong opinion about the current situation?
Then you can give yours, right?

I would like to ask you to reconsider this. They can give their opinion, but when an outsider gives an opinion (even the same opinion), it is much more painful. People can be critical of themselves or their political situation, but in the meantime they don’t like it when you agree with them. It is too painful. Too risky. Don’t go into that any further. Keep it general. (As an example: you wouldn’t like your mother or neighbor to agree with you on your bad taste or bad smell. You can say that and share it in confidence, but you don’t want them to agree on that. This is not about a bad smell, it is about politics and the current state and democracy, but it is just as insulting).

What if they ask your opinion or how Europeans think of what happened? What the media writes and says?

Stay neutral and be cautious. You could consider: “Our hearts go out to you guys. We wish you all the best.” Don’t mention: “I agree with George W. Bush. He says: “This is the way in which an election result in a banana republic is disputed, not the way in our democracy.” Dont mention something like: “Incredible what happened, your democracy is at risk.” or “Well, we expected this.” Instead, you might shift the attention from you to them, by asking a neutral question “How are you doing right now?”

How can you help them?

Don’t push them to share their thoughts, give room to ‘escape’ and continue the meeting. Some of them might need time to process what happened. Just be kind, patient and understanding.

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4c Unity provides the online training Inspire & Convince Americans.

Is there room for improvement in your cooperation with Americans?

3 December 2020 by Marjoleine van Sinderen, 4c Unity

Here is a number of situations in which you might find yourself during your cooperation with some of your American colleagues, partners, suppliers, customers, managers and employees. Do you recognize these?

  1. The circle starts with: You want to be meaningful. You want to deliver quality work that meets the guidelines of your company and its customers. The work you do, your ideas, your suggestions, the proposal you have made, contributes to this.
  2. Perhaps Americans (hardly) respond to your emails or are very difficult to reach by telephone.
  3. During video conferencing it is difficult to really tune in with them. They always seem to be in a hurry and may appear chaotic.
  4. Due to the lack of real contact you cannot do your work properly or you’re not able to meet your deadlines. You keep running behind.
  5. Due to the lack of regular contact, you receive assignments last minute. This means you have to cancel your own meetings or activities to be able to finish on time.
  6. When there is contact, it is difficult to get the time to get your message across and to win the Americans for your proposal, ideas and suggestions.
  7. They interrupt and make a decision without giving you time to fully make your point. This decision is then based on incomplete information which causes lots of complications.
  8. As a result, you may experience anger, fear of the future, an unsatisfied feeling, frustration and perhaps a powerless feeling ‘like nothing I do matters anymore’. This must be very frustrating since you want to be meaningful and you are convinced there is a better way to do it.

Ways to increase the attention for you

The most important way to get out of this downward spiral is to start creating a foundation for your short and positive proposal or message. To increase the attention and empathy of Americans for you. You do this with a three-minute small talk, the American way. Do Americans do small talk?! Yes, they do. It’s different from yours, because it’s culturally dependent.

Small talk is about putting someone at ease and breaking the ice in a way the other person recognizes and likes. How can you really connect with Americans and how to apply American small talk? How to get them in the ‘yes mode’ and to make them receptive to you, so that they will open up to you and like you and be interested in your opinion?

Ways to get a ‘yes’

As you probably experienced yourself, it is easier to say ‘no’ to a person you don’t like or you don’t know. Think about the offers you get by phone or email. It is easier to reject this offer than the offer of somebody you like. How do you get someone to like you, while remaining sincere? One of the aspects is, make sure you talk about commonalities. For instance “I used to live in Los Angeles” or “I love watching American football” when you’ve find out he is a fan. Or “our common goal is to sell a million chips next year” or “our common goal is to satisfy our demanding German customer”.

What really connects you?

In addition, it is essential to see the human being behind the person you are dealing with, not just the fact that he or she is different or American. If you only see things that bother you and things that are different, you will keep annoying each other. If you are in that groove, cooperation won’t really improve that much. Step out of the groove and look at what connects you with your American colleague/partner/…. What is human? What is universal? You will start making real contact from there on out.

Ways to win their trust

Research show that our empathy does not seem to extend to those outside the group, to those who are different from us. So become part of their group. How? By gaining their trust. How do you win their trust? Feel and show that you sincerely care about them and their search for the solution. Show that you sincerely want to help them. By helping them you will reach your goals and you will have a long-lasting satisfied feeling.

Free talk to think along with you

If you are interested, I can share more ways to increase their attention for you, ways to get their ‘yes’ and ways to win their trust. Ways to improve your relationship with Americans so that you can both turn your well thought out ideas into realities. In order to help you well during your whole work life, I have developed the online training Inspire & Convince Americans for people working in tech companies.

If you like to receive new articles directly in your inbox, please send me an e-mail: contact@4cunity.com.
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“I just want my American colleague to send me the information so I can move on”

3 November 2020 by Marjoleine van Sinderen, 4c Unity

“My American colleague won’t give me the information I need. We are working in the same company”, says Stefan. “I am asked to support hardware, because a certain feature doesn’t work anymore. In order to do so, I asked for specifications. I kept on asking, but somehow my American colleague didn’t send the specifications. He just wants me to support quickly, because his client has a problem. I kept on asking and then he reacted irritated. Why?! If he would send me the specifications, I could help him faster”.

Why doesn’t he send me the specifications?! We are at a standstill.”

Marjoleine: “Are you sure that there are specifications?”

Stefan: “……”. “No specifications? That would be impossible! If that is the case, why didn’t he say so in the first place?!”

Marjoleine: “I see your point. Good question. Why didn’t he say so before? It would have saved you a lot of time. What could be the reason? Could it be that when his company was still an American company, before it became part of yours, speed in meeting customer demand was more important than following procedures? Is it possible that now it’s part of your company, this situation could be painful? Maybe he just wants to help his customer as quickly as possible because he is very service-minded? Perhaps he is not used to sharing, because he runs the risk of losing business or getting fired? Whatever it is, it is important to look at it from his side as well and try to understand it”.

Ask questions carefully

“If we look through our own cultural glasses, there is a risk that we don’t understand and disapprove. How can you find out if there are specifications or not without the other person losing face? Without asking too many (for them) direct and risky questions? Because this person is a person of flesh and blood, with a family and perhaps with loans. Let’s help him and his customer. Let’s help yourself”.

A week later. Stefan: “I’ve just found out this is unofficial hardware ….. Can you imagine?! In Germany this is inconceivable. I am shocked. Anyway, the hardware used to be compatible, but never formalized. And now it has to be supported with ad hoc software developments as a result…”

Marjoleine: “It is up to you (and your organization) to act flexible and maybe ad hoc or to convince your colleague of writing the requirements retroactively in order to have a solid long-term solution for his customer. Whatever you both think is the best thing to do. I will teach you to ask for information next time without losing so much time and energy. Thanks for sharing your case. You will help others with this.”

Eight free proposals

The case of Stefan resulted in a proposal worked out by 4c Unity, which is one of the eight free proposals that people get when they buy the online training Inspire & Convince Americans in addition to the resumes, checklists, workbooks, video’s with demonstration, and access to the online community. With this proposal, people who are in a similar situation know how to request information using the right proposal elements, the right order, the right arguments, expressing the value of sharing and creating a secure environment in which sharing with them is possible. They know how to respond to resistance. They know what to do when their American colleague says it is not his or her responsibility to share information, it’s their manager’s responsibility.

If you like to receive new articles directly in your inbox, please send me an e-mail: contact@4cunity.com.
If you like to read the other articles right now, please be my guest.
If you like to discuss your personal use case or have a demo of this online training, then please feel free to contact me.

“America’s market is ‘down the drain’. Why should I invest in this training right now?”

17 November 2020 by Marjoleine van Sinderen, 4c Unity

Is it really in your field or are they still going strong? If the market is down now, for how long? Do you believe their situation will last forever? Don’t you think they want to be a world leader? They might need you to do the research and development. They might need a selling market quickly.

Take the stage now!

I think the world, the markets, and the people are interconnected. So be ready and be prepared. They might knock on your door very soon. This is your chance to prepare well for how to take the stage, how to become top of mind, how to be listened to, and how to get your ideas and proposals accepted. Ultimately, it comes down to one thing: they want to make money. You are part of the solution. They need you to reach their goals, because you have this specific expertise of yours. This uniqueness. How do you convince them of that? This online training Convince Americans Quickly is for people working in a technical environment. Your questions will be answered in the online community.

What is unique about your solution?

What really makes your proposal and your solution unique? Don’t be too modest and don’t be too general. You will see them losing their interest. So, what is it? Many people find it difficult to put this into words. It might be related to your culture. “Just act normal, don’t exaggerate.” Maybe you never gave it a second thought. Perhaps you did …. and let it slide. (I know. You are busy). Possibly you needed many words to explain. It isn’t easy to describe your uniqueness. It requires time, attention, and background information. I will help you. This is one of the aspects in the checklist. You will learn to put the uniqueness of your proposal into words. With the workbook assignments you will make it a Wow with something the Americans are sensitive to. That is not the same you are sensitive to. You will find these aspects in the resume. I will help you to put this into practice. Actually doing it.

Lifelong access to the training

Ah, you are careful spending your money right now? It is a one-time investment and you will have lifelong access to this online training. If you decide not to buy it, and they are knocking on your door, or you are knocking on theirs and you are not prepared well, what will you say? The same thing as you used to? Then you will get what you got or what you have right now. What will it cost you and your company if you continue the way you are doing now? What business opportunities are you missing or will you miss? How many thousands, ten thousands, millions of euros?
I’am happy to help. We can’t force the approval of your (technical) ideas, but we can prepare you well, so they can hardly resist it.

If you like to receive new articles directly in your inbox, please send me an e-mail: contact@4cunity.com or read the other articles right now, if you like. If you like to discuss your personal use case or have a demo of this online training, then please contact me.

How to deal with a ‘rosy picture’ of the results?

12 November 2020 by Marjoleine van Sinderen, 4c Unity

Americans like to look at the possibilities and have a positive mindset, and that is great! Working with somebody who is very negative and often sees the downsides can be such a drain. So far, so good. But Americans might be so optimistic, that they (not all!) give a somewhat rosy picture of their results. First of all, why is that? What do you think of that? Are you ok with it or is it sometimes annoying to you? How to deal with it?

Safety reasons

When their results are great, they can proudly highlight their achievements. They can even do so if their results are not so great. It might be a save choice to ‘sugar-coat’ the results and promises when your business is based on quarterly annual results. In the U.S. it is relative easy to stop an activity or even dismiss a complete team. Bear in mind that there is no social safety net like in Western Europe.

Others who work with Americans can be annoyed by what they perceive as showing off and even arrogant behavior. They find it unfair if managers or customers accept the unrealistic promises.

Be careful when your American colleagues are discussing their ‘rosy-pictured’ results

Transparency, sharing information, openly asking critical questions, a negative project status can cause problems for them on a personal level, and even more so when this is discussed in a group. In some cultures, being transparent and portraying things as they are, even when the results are negative, makes you trustworthy and reliable. However, if you openly say to a group that Americans are too optimistic about their schedule, promises or status, you might become a threat to them. You are openly putting their performance up for discussion and they will find you very unreliable.

Compliment and add..

If you want to work with them, are dependent on them and want to respect them, then take this in to account. You could possibly indicate that what they are doing and presenting is interesting or great and then add how you think it can be done even better. “Great and we can …” That way you don’t mention the sensitive issue and you won’t create resistance. How to do so while remaining yourself? And how to picture your own results? You will learn and practice this (and so much more) in the online training Inspire & Convince Americans. It is for people working in a technical environment in the EU.

Learn to make a short and positive proposal with impact. Improve your working relationship with Americans!

If you like to receive new blogs directly in your inbox, please send me an e-mail: contact@4cunity.com.
If you like to read the other articles right now, please be my guest.
If you like to discuss your personal use case or have a demo of this online training, then please feel free to contact me.

How to move past your political preferences and connect again?

2 November 2020 by Marjoleine van Sinderen, 4c Unity

My heart goes out to the people of the United States of America. To all of them. It doesn’t matter whether they are Republican or Democrat. Everyone (!) needs to be heard, because there is pain beneath the surface. And when thoughts, believes and pain are not expressed by people, or are not taken seriously, a feeling of powerlessness comes in. “How should I pay for my studies?” “How am I going to get a job in my area with so much unemployment?” “What should I do if I can’t pay for my house because my neighborhood is changing and becoming too expensive?” “What should I do when my loved one is ill? Go to the hospital or wait because of the high costs?” “How should I feed my children?” How to live in an increasingly divided world where, moreover, a virus is gaining ground?

Powerless feeling will lead to frustrations

This powerless feeling of people, when it takes far, far too long, without a real helping hand, will lead to frustrations and corresponding actions. You don’t have to agree with the violence, nor with the response of the police, but wouldn’t you think that people would rather stay at home if they had the chance, if they had solutions to the problems they face? Their solution is crying out for help. They want their voices to be heard. The same applies to police officers who probably also prefer to stay at home or have a good conversation with their community (and many will!). Frustration, and no sympathetic ear and helping hand is devastating for everyone.

Hearing ≠ really listening

You can hear someone, but that is not the same as really listening to someone. And really feel their pain. Don’t let it overwhelm you, but feel and show compassion. To put yourself in their shoes and look around. What do I see? How does it feel to be here? And then ask the person: “What do you really need? How can I help you? Let’s meet halfway, because it doesn’t feel right to go on with my life if you are in pain”. I wish the American people, whatever their political affiliation, job, color, background is, to get the support, the tools, the education to help themselves. To get out of the situation they are in. In a way that they can hold their heads high and be proud. Wouldn’t it be great if all people would have good opportunities, prospects and starting position? So much potential would be used.

Helping someone will give you a long-lasting satisfied feeling

Not only achieving your own goals or making a lot of money, not just being engaged in self-development. But to dedicate oneself to the well-being of other people. That gives people a long-lasting feeling of satisfaction. (Yes, you both benefit from it). Think of times when you have had a deep sense of happiness. I mean, the real thing. What were you doing or thinking? Who were you talking to? Maybe you find out that you were listening to someone or helping someone. Think about the times when you felt sad… What were you doing? Were you busy with your thoughts and worries?

Meet again and find unity in your diversity

I wish the American people to meet again, no matter who wins the elections. That they can bridge their differences. That they can see the human being behind the person who lives next to them or who they work with or who they meet in the shops (and of course so many Americans see that humanity!) I wish them to be able to reach out and (figuratively) hold hands for a while and say: “I see you, how can I help? It may not be much, but I can really listen. I will try to do this without judging, but by asking questions, not suggestive questions, but open questions. And you know, maybe sometimes I have to walk away to take a deep breath and digest what you just said, because we’ll differ, but we’ll also have a lot in common, so I’ll come back”.

Choose to really reconnect. Find unity in your diversity. You will find so much beauty in it. You can do it! For yourself, for each other, and for the rest of the world.

If you like to receive new articles directly in your inbox, please send me an e-mail: contact@4cunity.com or if you like to read the other articles right now, please be my guest. If you like to discuss your personal use case or have a demo of this online training, then please feel free to contact me.