What I Learned in 2017

Prior to my work developing cultural self-awareness and intercultural competence, I didn’t realize how disconnected and isolated I felt. For the most part, I didn’t know how to be real with people and still feel safe. I had a connection problem. Now that I’m settled into this work, I see that I have the opportunity to be in authentic relationships like I’ve not encountered before. I get to experience deeper friendships both personally and professionally. Professionally, businesses hire me because they want to foster authentic connection within their employee group; and between their employees and customers. We’ve found this decreases disruption in the corporate environment and accelerates the speed at which people adopt a cross-cultural mindset; increasing collaboration, innovation, and profit. Teaching people the skills and heart for real relationships, they can demonstrate the care they intend to express, creating an environment of safety and belonging for everyone’s sake.

My growth became more evident to me when Pat Hawn, Vice President of Sales for Marketvolt-email marketing platform, said, “I’ve watched you grow this year. You’ve really found your voice.” I hadn’t realized Pat had been reading my blogs. This was particularly meaningful because it was due, in part, to his ready assistance that yours truly learned about online blogging.

2017 Blogs

Looking back through the year, here’s a recap of my growth chronicled in my favorite blogs of 2017:

  1. Smaller: To come out of hiding and experience real relationships, I learned there are three steps. Author and professor, Marlon James was my inspiration for this blog.
  2. When Silence Isn’t Golden: To counteract the disconnection and isolation that were prevalent in my cultural upbringing, entrepreneur Kim St. Clair helped me understand when silence doesn’t help.
  3. Impact of Minimization: Our silence may be a symptom of our cultural tendency to minimize our differences. When I was trained to be a Qualified Administrator of the Intercultural Development Inventory ®, an assessment tool measuring intercultural proficiency, I learned how people of both majority and minority cultures tend to downplay our differences; decreasing corporate collaboration and productivity.
  4. Do Our Monuments Inspire?: We all get caught up in minimizing our differences at one time or another. However, that leaves us unaware of our impact on others. As we accept and acknowledge people’s different feelings and responses, we can determine if our monuments, sacred cows and systems help or hinder business.
  5. Don’t Ditch the Relationship: When a relationship gets hard, it may be tempting to just walk away. However, if a person is a colleague, customer or neighbor, ending a relationship may not be possible. To discover other options and potentially meaningful friendships, civil dialogue becomes necessary. In this blog, I explain the steps we can take to stay engaged.
  6. Outsmarting Unconscious Bias: It is helpful to understand why we all can’t we all just get along. In my most recent blog, I explain how and why our bias can hinder us from noticing what gets in the way of developing meaningful relationships.
  7. Leadership Upended: With awareness of those biases and assumptions, leaders can allow the true needs of current and potential employees and customers come to the surface. Our professional and personal relationships morph when we discover we both have something to learn.

What I Discovered

Adopting this posture of learning rather than knowing has enabled me to affirm the experience of another, even if the experience hasn’t been similar to my own. As a result, my cultural tendency to want to judge and fix other people has given way to curiosity and openness. And my need to be right has given way to a willingness to make mistakes and allow people to teach me. All of which has opened up the opportunity and freedom to develop new connections and unique friendships I’ve never before encountered. -AN

THANK YOU readers, friends, and colleagues for being the inspiration for my blogs this year. Your questions and wisdom are wonderful. I want to wish everyone opportunities to discover awesome new relationships, making it an even Happier New Year!