Daily Archives: 11/12/2007

Culture

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My travels take me to many places around the world, and these places and people have many customs and beliefs. These customs and beliefs will range from behaviours, dress, food, and politics to religion. The latter two I keep away from.

My problem is that as I visit and give more trainings in these far places (click to see countries I visit), I am introduced to even more culture, and as I forget what country or region I am in, I can make big mistakes.

Simple things like hand movements, simple words, touching, looking, how I eat food, drink, or blow my nose, can cause offense. And, I do not intentionally.

OK, there are times when I intentionally shock my participants with what I do. It is done for a purpose, but that is another matter.

Simple things like blowing my nose. In Turkey it should never be done whilst eating at the dining table. The trouble is I did not know this until recent times. How often have I eaten a spicy meal, hot chillies, that make my nose run, it is not that I have a cold, but my nose really runs, and how often have I blown my nose? I cannot have it dripping can I?

Sorry people who have taken me for a meal and I did wrong.

In China or Malaysia, South East Asia, they eat noodles, which can be called spaghetti in Italy and the rest of the world, as far as I am concerned they are one of the same. In China, they scoop the noodles into the mouth, and the excess is bitten off and is allowed to fall to back onto the plate. In Italy it should all be placed into the mouth whole, none should be dropped back onto the plate.

Sorry Donatella, when I ate like a Chinaman at your friend’s restaurant in upmarket Rome.

In some countries it is rude to show the souls of the feet, that is one reason when people sit on the floor they place their feet beneath them like in a yoga position. My knees do not bend that way or that much. I have tried, but it seems I am not built to do that.

Sorry, I suppose I should have some replacement knees.

The classic sign to indicate to stop is to place the flat of the hand towards the person you wish to stop. Most police forces use it to stop traffic. But then it can be a rude sign to some cultures. Another sign to say stop is to run an outstretched hand across the neck, to cut or finish. In Italy this is a bad sign used by the Mafia.

Sorry people in Italy.

I Muslim counties, cultures or beliefs, it is sometimes not done for a man to touch or shake a womans hand, one of the most natural ways of meeting someone, thus we have the NLP Handshake Interrupt exercise. (click to see).

In some cultures, it is not the done thing to show any form of affection or gratitude, for example the kissing of cheeks we see in Mainland Europe or the Middle East. It is certainly not done by the British, but I have gotten used to it.

Sorry those of you in the Chinese community, especially the family in Malaysia and Bing, my brother-in-law.

Perhaps the answer could be that we all wear a big sign around our necks, which states and says what is acceptable to us and what is not. It would then be easy for me not to cause offense to others by my words and action, and for others not to upset me, like jumping the queue. (click to read).

But then, people who have been on my courses can cope with culture differences, they may not like the differences, but now they can accept them and smile.

To the rest of you. Sorry in advance.

Can you let me know of differences in culture and beliefs you know of, by posting a comment below so I can be prepared?

A day of being in the fog and queuing.

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Continuing from my entry A fog bound Gaziantep, Turkey earlier today, at 19:00 hours I am still traveling.

I arrived at Gaziantep airport this morning at 9:30am and waited for two hours in the airport departures, hearing various announcements, all in Turkish, well it is Turkey what should I expected , and race around trying to get translations, only to find out at 1pm that all flights had been canceled because of the fog or mist.

What do I do now?

Keep calm, put a smile on my face and happiness in my heart, and place my attention at Hara, Fred, Antonio, Mustapha, Siri Parla, be strong, because I knew there would be a scrum, a fight to get to the re ticketing desk, and sure enough, there was.

The British are famous for a number of things, not being able to speak another language other than English, fish and chips, and queuing.

If there are more than two people standing behind each other, the British will join the queue, they may not know what they are waiting for, but they join the queue.

Now, if anyone jumps the queue, gets out of line, pushes in, they will be in trouble. The best place to see this in action is on the “Drain”, London’s Bank underground line. It has only two stations, Waterloo and The Bank. It is very civilised, every one lines up correctly, and there is no pushing or shoving.

But that is London, in other countries there is no queuing system, first come first served, get in there first.

The trouble is I am British. I can be first in the queue and before I know it I am last, somehow, I do not know how, in an airport, the whole flight is in front of me, I can be first off the plane, get to passport control, but still be last threw.

And so it proved to be today, even though I did my best to stay in front, I was one of the last to be sorted out. The only thing for me to do was to get a flight from Adana, and Turkish Airways would not get me there, I would have to make my own way, or catch the next days flight.

The harassed Turkish Airlines check in clerk, did her best, but would not answer my questions as to how I was going to get to Adana, but she said I had a 19:00 hr flight. OK, smile, keep strong, I found a coach going to Adana airport, a three hour journey, and I thought for free. No way, once I was captured on the coach, on its’ journey, I had to pay 15 Turkish Lira. No problem, it will not break the bank.

With nothing to do, I looked at the re routing documents, written in Turkish, Oh Poo Poo, my flight is due to take off at 22:15 hrs, that means a 23:30 hours arrival In Istanbul’s Ataturk airport, then, a trip into the center of Istanbul to my hotel.

What a long day. I could be eating a great meal in Istanbul with friends.

I think I need a holiday. Who say travel is glamorous?

Perhaps Turkish Airlines should compensate me? I doubt it, not even a drink was offered, great customer service, good job I have access to the CIP lounge to write this blog.

A fog bound Gaziantep, Turkey

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I have two hours to wait in a fog bound airport in Gaziantep in the South of Turkey, or that is what they say. All announcements are made in Turkish and I have no idea what they are saying. That is the problem of not speaking any languages other than English.

It has been an enjoyable time here working with many people here in this beautiful city, I have learned much more about the Turkish culture and eating habits, which I will add in later blogs perhaps.

It has been a hard six day training time, working long hours often 12 hours a day, with 3 courses, but the participants have made it worth while. Some have been a challenge to help go through a new learning process, new ideas, and a style which is unique to me in delivery of training.

Last night we finished a business coaching course organised by Gap Consultancy for Superfilm, part of the Sanko Holding group of companies. Working with so many , personalities, beliefs and behaviours kept me on my toes, but with the help of Mehpare who translated for me, I am sure we achieved a great outcome.

Thank you Superfilm and Sanko for allowing me to be with you, I look forward being back in January 2008 for more courses.