As an Executive Coach, I recognize the negative impact of fear on business.
Fear is the strongest and most frequent of human emotions. Despite this, fear is rarely mentioned as a factor in business, leadership, planning, strategy, etc. Many of us are afraid of being perceived as lacking logic and rationality. We feel talking about fear is equal to weakness and lack of courage. The opposite is true: Displaying courage and strength is to face your fears and dare to act in critical situations.
If I take a hard look at myself, I can see fear has been the root cause of anger, lashing out, procrastinating, avoiding risk, casting blame on others. It was not always a fear that was apparent to me, but fear of not performing, losing status or job, fear of "being found out," etc. I have since learned that for numerous other people, fear is what triggers their dark side. An undercurrent of fear is often one of the causes of severe stress and burnout.
Needless to say: Fear creates bad managers, unhappy subordinates and kills initiative and creativity. Fear is the root of terrible behavior and lack of productivity.
We all owe to our companies and surroundings to reflect on our fears and avoid acting on them. We also need to support the people around us to face their fears.
Don’t worry. You are probably not weird. But when you venture abroad with your business, customers, partners, clients, and staff might perceive you as strange. And this will hurt your business now and in the long term.
In my many years livening abroad in different countries, I have seen numerous strategies to understand other countries and markets. I have tried that path and immersed myself in the literature about culture and how different nationalities behave.
The problem is that reality very seldom matches theory—books about, eg. Japanese business culture is just like books about your first baby. They are written about the average person/baby, and the books do not prepare you for the considerable variation among individuals. Nobody is like the average of a large population because we are not only conforming to national culture, we are also affected by our company-, professional-, social group- and other cultures. And on top of that, we have our personality; we are introvert/extrovert, action-oriented/reflective, etc.
What can you do then? My experience has been that instead of looking at other people's cultures, I should start with my own. Where am I truly weird seen with other people's eyes? For example, I am from a hard-core protestant culture (no, I am not thinking about religion as such but the values), and I respect time and punctuality. To me, a nine am meeting starts at nine, which again means everybody arrived before that time. And it irritates me when others don't respect that. I probably don't have to specify where in the world this brings me in trouble with the locals! In short: I have found out why other people might find me weird!
With my cultural profile as a starting point, I am on track to improve my relations with foreign contacts, customers, and partners.
I can help you and your company to start a profitable journey. And as an Executive Coach, I want to grow your international business and facilitate a path towards better understanding and communication with your foreign partners.
For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org