When you opened this website today, I’m sure you noticed something has changed. I hope you did. My ‘branding’ and ‘house style’ got a serious make-over. I did not. The person is the same but will bring a different focus to his work moving forward.
My work over the last 10 years covered cross-cultural effectiveness: giving intercultural trainings and workshops to professionals from different cultures and helping them understand their cultural differences such that they can work more effectively. Over time I came to new insights: not every problem on a cross-cultural team is a culture problem. More often than not, the real problems on a team originate in assumptions we make about others, poor communication or limited trust. Culture easily becomes the scapegoat and a cross-cultural training is quickly booked. Sometimes this yields success. But often – although the insights are appreciated – the way of working in the teams does not change, and problematic behaviors remain.
Information about culture does not change ineffective behavior patterns. Reflection and improved communication do. So when I work very successfully with teams, it is often because we address more than just culture. When we go below the water line and find out what people are not comfortable to talk about, we find the assumptions and beliefs that drive their ineffective behaviors.
Addressing this is wonderful work that I derive a lot of satisfaction from. And all these things can only be addressed effectively when we succeed to communicate in a clear way. When we dare to say what needs to be said. When we dare to discuss the undiscussable. When we bring ‘Clarity into our Conversations.’
Why are clear conversations so vital?
The consequences are severe, as the figure above from the Economist Intelligence Unit shows. They published a study last year on Communication Barriers in the Workplace. The study is based on interviews with 400 senior executives, managers and staff from a number of companies. It yields that the consequences of poor communication at work are twofold. First, there is the direct impact on work (delays in projects, missed performance goals, less innovation, and failure to close sales). The secondary effect is indirect: stress, low morale and slow career progression have a profound impact on employee happiness and well-being, which impacts again – albeit not directly – the hard business objectives.
This is not just data to me. In coaching and trainings at a number of my clients over the last few years, I’ve seen people with great talent who do not contribute at full potential at work. They suffer from reduced morale, are stressed because of the (perceived?) high-pressure work environment and get frustrated by slow decision making and unclear priorities. And they remind me of myself 10 years ago, getting frustrated by the same thing. Helping people make slight changes in their communication style is rewarding work. These small changes often result in big shifts in the impact people have on their environment.
Getting communication right is vital.
I came to the conclusion that I want to make my work more meaningful and more impactful. Hence a focus on ‘Clarity in Conversations’, which is necessary to address the challenges we face at work and in our teams. This new focus does not mean that I stop giving workshops on cross-cultural effectiveness. On the contrary. I will enrich them however with activities to ensure they result in behavior changes back at work, such that the workshops and trainings have a measurable impact. ‘Clarity in Conversations’ is the central theme in my work going forward.
Workshops for teams in companies remains an effective vehicle to address communication and improve this. Next to this, I’ll focus more on giving keynotes at conferences and company events, chairing in-company meetings and facilitating teams in their daily work.
The new focus will be supported by research into well-proven methods – scientifically underpinned – that improve the quality of our conversations. I will read lots of research and translate my findings into practical tips that are useful for professionals of all cultures of the world. Such that they feel empowered to apply these insights at work the next day. The practical tips will come to you through articles, blogs, a new book (in the future) and a podcast.
The podcast is new, and I’m very excited by it. Connecting my present work to a hobby from my student years: making radio programs. The podcast ‘Clarity in Conversations’ will go live within the next 3 weeks and will get to you through this website, and through all conventional podcast distribution channels (Spotify, iTunes etc.).
Get in touch!
I look forward to any reactions you have and would love to get in touch! That’s why my new website has the possibility to enter a 15-min free consult into my calendar: the quickest way to speak to each other soon by Zoom or face-to-face! An option you should use to get to know each other, fire questions about current challenges at work to me and for… well, anything else you’d like to get in touch about. Let’s have a clear conversation!