What can FC Bayern Munich’s soccer team tell us about intercultural differences and how to overcome them?
The other day Bayern Munich’s first league soccer team beat AS Rom 7:1 in a European Champions League game.
Was I happy about the result? You bet! However, FC Bayern Munich (FCBM) is not my favorite soccer team in Germany, not at all.
What is at play here? Of course, part of my identity is being German and if a German team wins against another country’s team, I am happy. At least in my mind, FCBM is a German team. My mind is so completely wrong.
The fact is that FCBM’s team has players from Spain, Holland, France, Morocco, Brazil, Denmark, Switzerland, Poland, USA, Peru and, yes indeed, they have also German players, some of them with a mixed national background. And not to forget, the star trainer, Josep Guardiola, is from Spain. FCBM is heading the German Bundesliga, looks set to get very far in the Champions League and seems to be unbeatable at the moment.
If you look at this with conventional minds of intercultural differences or cross-cultural scientist’s eyes, the success shouldn’t be possible because the intercultural or cross-cultural differences should be too big.
Or are they possibly not relevant? May be completely blown out of proportion or just a mindset?
When I worked in Hong Kong and Singapore for German banks, I had plenty of people from different cultures as staff, reports, peers and bosses to work with. Chinese, Malays, Indians, Indonesians, Philippines, USA, UK, French! Austrian, Germans, etc.
We had bad meetings and excellent meetings, not so pleasant projects and successful projects. I was rejected and respected by people around me and vice versa. We had communication problems and did not explain our expectations. Some people I sometimes understood “blindly” without having to talk. I felt trapped and cheated, supported and helped by all kinds of people, irrespective of their cultural belonging or their religious beliefs. The most brutal and disappointing experiences I had with German colleagues, but also well meaning and open discussions based on mutual trust, and I even got an apology from a Board member of a German HQ.
With one word, I had no experience, good or bad, which I could not have had in Germany as well.
So, are there no intercultural differences?
Definitely there are!
But are they relevant? Relevant to leadership, business and career issues?
The other very serious problems with differences among cultures are the perceived differences. The labels, stereotypes and expectations as to how people of particular cultures behave. These sometimes generation old beliefs create perceptions which in turn create the conflicts which then are proof for the perceptions.
In addition, if you are suddenly living and working in an environment which is dominated by people of a different culture and possibly religion even inside a country, without your family and friends, you get easily out of alignment with yourself.
Doubts are creeping up about yourself, about what you want, whether you’re good enough. Fears about what other people think. Stress and overwhelm are coming up because you don’t understand the language, the customs, the bureaucracy, the strange way of behavior of the people in traffic situations. You start to fail thinking straight under stressful work or family circumstances, and you lose sight about how you want to live and behave with yourself and others.
You start to miss the feeling of connection, the feeling of being plugged in.
However, the problems are created inside you, not through the other culture!
If what you see and experience is contrary to what you firmly believe how it should be, your brain, subconscious and body reacts with negative emotions, stress and sickness. You need to find a way to bridge the gap.
Let’s come back to the players of FCBM or ManU or Real Madrid or Benefia Lisaabon or AC Milan or whichever team you like. These players go through these emotional and social turbulences as well. Nevertheless, they play superb and successful soccer.
How is that possible?
Because they are a big investment and highly valued assets for the Clubs, they are taken care of: mentally, emotionally, physically and socially. Through coaching, training, mentoring and counseling, they are brought up to and kept at the top.
When are you going to treat yourself as the million-dollar asset you are for you?
Use coaching to achieve your goals, apply EFT (tapping on your meridian points) to take care of your emotional balance, stress level, fear and doubts and learn to communicate stress free to enhance your social and communal connection – even and especially when everything around you seems strange, aggressive, chaotic and overwhelming in a foreign country.
To learn and develop your self-coaching and stress free communication skills listen to my new podcast “Episode 1 How to coach yourself – setting goals.”
Stay tuned for more about surviving intercultural hurdles.