The perils of being a (stereo)typical Westerner

This gentleman is passionate, experienced, and – most of all – in my opinion he’s often right when he says:
“We western people are imperialists, colonialists, and missionaries. And there are only two ways we deal with people: We either patronize them or we are paternalistic.”

Ernesto Sirolli suggests that when we enter a community we should never arrive with any ideas on how to improve the existing status quo. Instead, we should do what’s extremely difficult: “Shut up and listen!”

This also applies to expatriates when they arrive at their new home abroad. I think this ties in well with Maria Foley’s 12 tips on how to become an ugly expat.

A TED Talk – When most well-intentioned aid workers hear of a problem they think they can fix, they go to work. This, Ernesto Sirolli suggests, is naïve. In this funny and impassioned talk, he proposes that the first step is to listen to the people you’re trying to help, and tap into their own entrepreneurial spirit. His advice on what works will help any entrepreneur.

Hat-tip to Leonardo Bellatti, who posted this clip on LinkedIn.


ch (April'14).2Christian is a cultural trainer, coach, and consultant with extensive experience in working with multinational companies and especially in developing global leaders. He is the founder and owner of Höferle Consulting, where he leads a team of dedicated training, destination services, and expat support specialists. Christian works with global organizations (or those who are going global) to help their employees oversome cultural differences. Typically he only uses the word “normal” in quotation marks and he is an advocate for helping people understand the why of behaviors – not just the dos & don’ts. Find out more about Christian and follow him on Twitter. You can also see him, listen to him, and experience his work – just invite him! Or sign up for the Höferle Consulting newsletter.

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