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?
- 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.
- Perhaps Americans (hardly) respond to your emails or are very difficult to reach by telephone.
- During video conferencing it is difficult to really tune in with them. They always seem to be in a hurry and may appear chaotic.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.