In this series, I’m sharing about engaging with colleagues. In Part 2, I spoke about a fantastic colleague named Viktor whom I worked with in Ukraine. In Part 3, I spoke about a colleague that was determined to be miserable and to make life miserable for everyone.
This time, I’ll tell you about Amir from the Middle East.
Amir is not his real name – I will keep it confidential for the sake of anonymity. Many of us reading this letter aren’t allowed to travel to his home country. It’s in the Middle East and westerners aren’t welcome…..
Unfortunately, I had a stereotype in my head. I’d only met one person from this country, and that person had not been honest. Also – the US has had plenty of ‘tension’ and ‘conflicts’ with Amir’s home country through the years.
I shouldn’t have….but I let my past experience and the political situation between our countries negatively influence me.
Our governments don’t get along. Somehow, I let it come into the back of my mind that he and I probably wouldn’t get along either.
I couldn’t have been more wrong…
Positive, Friendly, and Engaging -
From the moment I met him in person, I realized how great Amir was.
He was kind. He was positive. He was engaging. He was so warm and friendly.
He was like this with everyone – me as the American and with all the others on the team (including people from Brazil, Germany, Turkey, Lithuania, and Spain).
He was also very encouraging and supportive of all of us. If there was anyone on the team we could count on for help, it was Amir.
-Don’t Let Stereotypes Cloud Your Judgement….
Don’t make the mistake that I did.
If you have a colleague from one of those countries that are so ‘different’ from your home country….give them a chance.
Don’t expect them to be like the political leaders of their country
Don’t expect them to dislike you because of where you are from
Don’t pre-judge them before you meet them
I actually do learn from my mistakes. I’ve learned to be more open and friendly to people that are different from me. That’s helped me in the international roles that I’ve had through the years.
That also helps us to understand and get along with Exchange students who live with us regularly (our next one is from the Czech Republic and arriving soon!).
You can learn from my mistakes too. Be open to someone new and different….someone who doesn’t fit our own stereotypes.
-Engaging Across Cultures-
Engaging with people from different countries can be a challenge.
But – it can also be fun and rewarding. Learn from my mistakes and my successes. Book your ‘Engaging Across Cultures’ workshop and watch your cross-cultural teams get better and better at understanding and engaging with each other.