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The Intercultural Stories We Tell Ourselves

I recently attended a thought-provoking webinar given by my colleague, Joanna Sell, an expert storyteller, that got me ruminating. What is the narrative we weave in our minds that creates either connection or disconnection with ...

Women Working Globally

Based on my decades of personal experience working in international settings as an employee and later as a consultant, I have learned many do’s and don’ts as a woman. From the common challenges of juggling ...

Freedom, Equality and Fraternity through a Franco-American Prism

Nearly 250 years ago, the French and the Americans forged an unlikely friendship against a common enemy: the English. When the Marquis de Lafayette and the Comte de Rochambeau crossed the Atlantic to fight for ...

Survival Skills in a VUCA World

As we soon enter our seventh month living in a new reality, we continue to struggle with multiple viruses—health, economic, and socio-cultural—that are testing even the strongest and most resilient person’s limits. We are truly ...

Collaborating Consciously in a Global Environment

Participants in our training programs frequently voice their day-to-day frustrations about the challenges of getting things done in a global virtual environment. I often hear the same question over and over “How can I get ...

Creating Inclusiveness with Global Virtual Teams

Years ago, as a graduate student I learned a tough lesson while working on a semester- long project with a Korean and a Japanese classmate. The team dynamics broke down when I made the assumption ...

First Impressions DO Matter

Bill Gates’ recent gaffe when meeting Korea’s new president reinforces the need for our global leaders today to be cultural savvy. The incident that spurred international uproar in the media occurred when Mr. Gates greeted ...

Independence Day and American Values

Those of you based in the U.S. are undoubtedly preparing to celebrate American Independence Day by getting together with family and friends for picnics, parades, flag waving and, of course, fireworks. But have you ever ...

Moving from “my way” to “our way”

I was recently reminded of the Indian parable about the blind men and an elephant. In the story a group of blind men feel different parts of the elephant and is convinced what the object ...

Exploring Intercultural Boundaries—Lessons Learned

This past week for the first time I co-chaired an annual conference for SIETAR-USA (Society for Intercultural Education Training and Research). Interculturalists from around the country and the world congregated in Arlington, Virginia to share ...

Cultural Advice for the Pilgrims

As we prepare to celebrate one of the most famous American holidays this week, I was reflecting on cultural advice that I would have given to the pilgrims nearly 400 years ago. When the Puritans ...

Who Controls Nature?

With the recent polar vortex and sub-zero temperatures that have affected much of the U.S., I have been reflecting upon the ways in which different cultures deal with control when encountering unforeseen circumstances in life. ...

Cultivating Empathy to Build Cultural Bridges

I still remember my first professional job as a 22-year old having recently arrived in Paris. As it turned out my on-the-job training consisted more about learning about my new culture—in this case working with ...

Can You Ever Truly Return “Home”?

I just returned from Paris where I lived for many years. As is typically the case when I go back, everything is still very familiar and it is easy to slip back into French patterns ...

Holiday Traditions Around the World

Like many religious holidays, Easter is celebrated with local customs around the world. While here in the U.S. children might awaken to find baskets loaded with chocolate bunnies and other treats, many other cultures have ...

Constructive Feedback Across Cultures

I recently received some negative feedback from someone that shook me by the aggressive and public nature in which it was delivered. When I later, privately, pointed out to the person that providing constructive feedback ...

How Well Do You Listen?

With recent world events such as the uprisings in Ferguson, Missouri, the wars in Gaza, the Ukraine, and Syria, or tensions between Washington and Moscow, I’m reminded of the important need to have intercultural skills. ...

Diplomacy and Cultural Faux Pas

President Obama was chided this week for removing chewing gum from his mouth during a state visit with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi. While the president’s frequent gum chewing habit may be his antidote to ...

Thawing Cross-Cultural Tensions

Like many of you at least in the eastern part of the U.S., I’m waiting with much anticipation for spring to show her first blossoms. The unpredictable weather this winter reminds me of similar volatilities ...

Cultural Misfit or Chameleon?

Each time I take a transatlantic flight I find myself in that zone, somewhere high in the clouds over the Atlantic, where my American and European selves converge and I feel the most at home. ...

Synchronizing Work Schedules Across Cultures

Happy summer to those of you living in the northern hemisphere! Here in Washington DC, we’ve enjoyed unseasonably cooler temperatures this year punctuated with torrential rainfalls. While my garden loves it, it definitely makes it ...

Seeking Collective Balance in a Precarious World

During a recent business trip to Vancouver, I spent some time walking around Stanley Park where I came upon an artist creating a series of zen rock towers. I stood and watched as he carefully ...

Biases, Boundaries and Bridges

Recent events and rhetoric on the national stage have brought to light the damage that stereotyping and marginalizing groups of people can have in creating unity and building bridges across cultural, gender, ethnic/racial, religious and ...

Why is Cross-Cultural Training Important?

A few months ago, a participant in one of my workshops told me that he wanted me to convince him why cultural competency is important. Throughout the workshop he regularly refuted what I said as ...

Listening to Enhance Cultural Understanding

Two weeks ago, I was invited to speak on the important topic of listening to enhance cultural competency. Given the unprecedented divisiveness along racial/ethnic, gender, religious, political and other lines in the U.S. and globally ...

What constitutes good global leadership?

As our world leaders congregate for the G-20 Summit this week, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to what it takes to be a successful global leader—or not. In the many years that I ...

Cross-Cultural Lessons Learned from Climbing Kilimanjaro

This summer I had the opportunity to fulfill a dream I’ve had for many years—to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. At Africa’s highest peak at 19341 ft (5895 m) it was a physically and mentally ...

Navigating Cultural Misunderstandings in Franco-American Alliances

With my home city of Washington DC abuzz last week with the first state visit of French President, Emmanuel Macron, I was reminded of the infatuation many Americans hold towards all things French. Despite the ...

Intercultural vs. International

As I was preparing to deliver a recent workshop on unconscious bias for an international school, my client mentioned that there may be some pushback from staff who felt that there were no issues with ...
Intercultural Alliances, LLC

Navigating Cultural Complexities in Fragile Environments

The past few weeks I have been designing a workshop targeted for staff who will be working in what are classified to be fragile, conflictual and violent countries. While every cultural workshop I design is ...
Intercultural Alliances, LLC

Learning to Surrender Across Cultures

Several years ago, in a workshop I was delivering in Bangalore, a participant who had recently returned to India after living in the U.S. for more than a decade, remarked that Americans are so goal-driven ...
Intercultural Alliances, LLC

Coping with Culture Shock

A few years ago, after delivering a mini-conference on culture shock, I was approached by a Frenchwoman who had attended a workshop I had conducted a couple of years earlier. She shared her gratitude and ...