SIETAR Germany: “Kultur – Konflikt – Kooperation: Interkulturelle Herausforderungen”

SIETAR Germany invites you to their Forum 2016:


“Kultur – Konflikt – Kooperation: Interkulturelle Herausforderungen”

(Culture – Conflict – Cooperation – Intercultural Challenges)

18 to 20 February 2016 in Bonn, Germany

The conflicts around us are increasing, be it on the social, international or professional level. Which professional answers do we have? As representatives of different fields of work and cultures, we invite you to an exchange of perspectives and approaches.

The SIETAR Germany FORUM 2016 is dedicated to events, conflicts and challenges of our time, that generate cultural diversity.

How do we face conflicts and cooperation approaches from the perspective of different disciplines and cultures?

Which models and methods of conflict resolution and cooperation have proven to be successful?

In this forum you will have the possibility to get to learn about different ideas and approaches, to discuss and try them out. In innovative large and small group formats you will have inspiring impulses and the opportunity to interact with other experts and to network.

Keynote speakers will be Professor Dr. Gesine Schwan and Professor Dr. Friedrich Glasl. This event, held in German, will take place at the Gustav Stresemann Institut, Bonn, 18 -20 February, 2016. Pre- and post-conference workshops on the 17th and 21st February respectively. For more details on forum attendance, please visit our online site:


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Cracks in the Glass Ceiling:  A closer look at Women, Islam and Middle East (via SIETAR Austria)

SIETAR AUSTRIA invites us to this event:


Wednesday, July 1st 2015

Door open at 6.00 pm

Begin 6.30 pm

App. 8 pm Networking


Cracks in the Glass Ceiling:  A closer look at Women, Islam and Middle East

Although the Middle East is resource rich and has a young and growing population, it suffers mis-management, high unemployment and gender/ skill imbalance. There are limited opportunities for women, even though many are, as, if not better, educated than their male counterparts. In light of continued and on-going challenges in the Islamic world, this presentation examines the role of Islam and women in the Middle East, explores misperceptions and realities and questions glass ceiling effects in the MENA region and Europe.

Spoken language: English


Pari Namazie, PhD

Atieh International Group

Pari Namazie , PhD, is an experienced HR/OD consultant/ facilitator. Her work focuses on the Middle East and North Africa region, working with organisations, teams and individuals to improve communication, foster understanding and raise awareness towards a much misunderstood region.


Expat Center Vienna

Schmerlingplatz 1

1010 Vienna




 Registration via
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Special Webinar “The inside scoop of the SIETAR EUROPA conference in Valencia”

Didn’t get a chance to go to the Sietar Europa Conference in Valencia but would love some insider information and tips?
Register for our special webinar on June 22nd from 6pm to 7pm:

“The inside scoop of the SIETAR EUROPA conference in Valencia 2015”

Hear from three conference goers who assiduously took notes with a view to share with our members:
Sabine Baerlocher
Sabine Baerlocher
Eugenia Converso
Eugenia Converso
Veronica de la Fuente
Veronica de la Fuente

Only a limited number of places are available so hurry!

These webinars are free for Sietar Switzerland Members

Non members can join provided there is still space, cost is CHF 25.- payable on registration.

Each webinar is limited to 25 participants

Places will be reserved on a first-come first-served basis and members will be served first.

To register email to Anne-Claude Lambelet no later than June 17.

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Second-Class Commuter – The Concept of Status in egalitarian Switzerland

by Angela Weinberger

In Switzerland, the trains have a first and a second class. Second class is usually for the “normal” people, while first class is often full of business executives and professionals on their daily commute. We love our public transportation system here in Switzerland. It’s very efficient, the trains run on schedule and are exceptionally safe and clean. So really, there is no reason to travel first class other than status.

I have only traveled first class on a few business trips. Now, I am a second-class commuter. By choice. I don’t care about status (or at least I think so…).

Often, expats and local foreign hires come from a high social status and an elaborate lifestyle in their home countries. Many of my clients tell me that they had at least two maids and a cook, sometimes a driver. They are not used to doing housework or handling their children the whole day. They come to Switzerland thinking they will thrive in the land of milk and honey (or cheese & chocolate).

But the Swiss reality is different.

Life is beautiful in Switzerland – for professional men. Women carry the full burden of running the home, educating the children and if they are professionals, they often take a step back in their careers once the first child is born. Even if you might be able to afford a cleaning person, you will not always be happy with the quality you get for the price you pay. Childcare is expensive in Switzerland and we do not have enough qualified educators around.

Modesty is a value.

Another culture clash comes from the differences in the definition of  “status.” In Switzerland, it is not uncommon for CEOs to take the bus. They do not necessarily drive big cars or wear expensive watches. Their houses seem small. The Swiss tend to be modest. They do not like to show off.

They rather define status with the luxuries they can afford such as traveling the world, a large number of children and a cottage in the mountains. Luxury is also a longer period of time taken off work to follow a dream, being able to volunteer, support an NGO or support the “commune” by being in the fire brigade or in a “Verein.” Luxury in some families is that one person (usually the woman) can stay at home raising the kids.


What can happen is that once you arrive in Switzerland, unpack your boxes and get used to your new life here, you might feel like a “second-class” commuter. You might feel like you are struggling, working too hard and not going to the mountains as much as you would like to.

You might also notice that you had underestimated the need for learning German / French. Often in this phase expats and foreign hires doubt if Switzerland is the right place for them. Some of them move to the next place.

This is normal when you build up a new life in a new country. It takes time.  Real integration in my view only starts after about two to three years. That is when you build a social circle outside of the expat community and when you really feel “at home”.

Tell us about an experience where you felt like a second-class commuter in Switzerland in the comments.


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When cultures clash with your other half – a quick guide to making intercultural relationships work

by Christina Kwok

Being in an intercultural union requires a lot of ‘give and take’, a fair bit more than your usual mono-cultural relationship. Sometimes more give than take, because after all, we’re living on Western soil, subject to the norms and expectations of the general culture around us, something he’s quick to remind me of lest I forget.


He’s Belgian from the French-speaking part and I’m Malaysian Chinese. Preserving intercultural harmony in our cross-cultural adventure means:

  • Saying “thank you” and “please” more often than I otherwise would. We don’t feel the need to be overly polite to someone in our intimate circle because he/she should know I appreciate them without having it spelt out explicitly. High context versus low context communication, some might call it.
  • Gently coaxing his nostrils to appreciate the aroma of lightly-browned, garlic, onions or roasted chilis wafting through the air when cooking Chinese or Malaysia, a sensory adventure in itself before the actual tasting ………..!
  • Going for an obligatory walk in the meadows to show off the beauty of nature around his home when friends visit instead of relaxing in the living with an aperitif and snacks
  • Watching his family and friends open gifts immediately after an exchange of presents at Christmas or on birthdays
  • Patiently training him to understand that the best food in Asia comes from renowned roadside stalls; the best restaurants to eat at on holiday back home are not in the hotel where we’re staying; no need to tie ourselves down by signing up for ‘Halbpension’
  • Gently reassuring him that it’s okay to ask the waitress to modify what I ordered from the menu in a Chinese restaurant we frequent often; also okay to order something not on the menu if you’ve befriended the chef
  • Patiently telling him that it’s okay to ask for a doggie bag to take leftovers home, without pretending it’s for the dog!

To all Asian readers contemplating such a foolhardy, intercultural odyssey, don’t say you haven’t been warned.

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SIETAR EUROPA Webinar “Negotiating Across Cultures – The 7 most costly mistakes companies make” with Matthew Hill

We are happy to announce the next SIETAR Europa webinar of 2015 on12th May at 7.00 PM CET:

Negotiating Across Cultures – The 7 most costly mistakes companies make

Where do your corporate customers need to improve? Their Negotiation skills or their Cultural awareness? Are they accomplished technical negotiators who would benefit from increasing their intercultural awareness and sensitivity to the values of other people? Or are they multi-culturally competent executives wishing to brush up on negotiation skills?

In this short webinar, we will highlight the 7 most expensive mistakes that many companies are currently making and that are costing them millions.

We will cover:
1. The cost of cultural stereotypes – the false assumptions people make about their power and the power of the other party.
2. Risk – each culture experiences risk differently and behaves in a unique way which must be understood to achieve long-lasting and ethical outcomes.
3. Dirty tricks – either party makes the assumption that the other won’t notice, mind or remember! Wrong Wrong Wrong!
4. Legitimacy and justification – few of us realise how culture impacts this critical area of negotiation.
5. Trading – we will look at haggling in the bazaar at one end of the scale and lawyers talking across a desk at the other.
6. Communication in negotiation – the intention to send a message is sadly undermined by the ability of the receiver to interpret the message as sent.
7. Trust and difference – various cultures have a different expectation of what constitutes trust.

Whether you are a coach, trainer, teacher or researcher helping executives and students to understand negotiation and culture, this high-energy broadcast will give you plenty to think about and a couple of invaluable tools to take away and use for the benefit of your organisation, yourself and the outcome ofyour next negotiation.


Matthew Hill is a senior facilitator, author and broadcaster working in the field of culture, negotiation, conflict and leadership. He has published a 5 CD box set on Negotiation and has authored a book on Leadership. Matthew has been a president of SIETAR UK in the past.

Webinar Negotiating Across Cultures – The 7 most costly mistakes companies make conducted by Matthew Hill on Tuesday, 12th of May 2015, at 7.00-8:00 PM CET.

To participate, please register from your computer, tablet or smartphone.

Please note that in registering for the SIETAR Europa webinar you accept to be included on our mailing list

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There is no such thing as “common sense” in the intercultural context

by Christina Kwok
I remember being back home with family in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia a year back. My older sister suggested that I get some new house keys made downtown at Mr. Minute, inside a large shopping mall called The MegaMall. I said, “Sure, no problem.”
When I got home and handed the new keys to my sister, she asked me casually
how much I’d paid for them. I told her and she literally freaked out. It seemed that I’d paid way too much to mint a new set of house keys (4 in all). When I reminded her that she hadn’t said how much they normally cost, she retorted with: “It’s common sense! You should know how much they cost!”
Lively discussions
I was ready to explode at this comment but I managed to restrain myself. My dear sister who has lived a safe and sheltered life all these years, never venturing beyond the city and family home where she was born, couldn’t possibly begin to conceive of anybody else’s notion of common sense but her own.
Would it even make sense to explain that having lived abroad all these years, I had lost touch and was partly using the Swiss index of living costs to guide my purchases? Should I proceed to lecture her on the uniqueness of common sense, how it’s closely tied to one’s life experience and the cultural frameworks one has been immersed in, how common sense effectively varies across cultures just as ways of reacting to events and situations are guided by instinct bred in one’s dominant environment of immersion?
Read this blog post from Cultural Detective for further insights into “common sense”.
No doubt you’ll find lots of contexts familiar to you in daily life, that resonate with your experience. What is your take on common sense in the intercultural context? Let us know in the comments.
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And so it began – SIETAR Switzerland AGM on 24 March 2015 in Bern, Switzerland

by Marianna Pogosyan

Board SIETAR CH 2015 - AGMOn one of the warmest inaugural days of the spring, a roomful of eager faces gathered in Bern from all over Switzerland to witness an important first in the life of SIETAR Switzerland – the first ever AGM (Annual General Meeting).


As with all firsts, the evening was full of poignancy and excitement. The legal protocol took center stage. There was the president’s speech, the passing of motions, the approval of financial statements and annual reports, and the election of the president, the board and the auditors. But perhaps the real momentousness of the evening was reserved to the rewarding culmination of the behind-the-scenes efforts of the past seven months.






To be present along with the other members for the first AGM, to witness the deepening of existing networks and the birth of new connections on this new platform of SIETAR Switzerland, ushered a palpable anticipation for the countless nexts that will follow this first.

PanelPANELDuring the panel discussion that proceeded the AGM, four experts weighed in on the topic of why we need intercultural competence in a multicultural Switzerland from different perspectives. 20150324_sietar-19Lamia Lively discussionsBen Hamida explained the importance of the cultural dimension in knowledge transfer in multinational organizations. Michael Büchi described the migration patterns that have made Switzerland multicultural. Alain Max Guénette spoke about intercultural management, while Petra Bourkia informed the audience about the multicultural challenges of nursing and healthcare in Switzerland.20150324_sietar-2320150324_sietar-22

The evening of the first AGM of SIETAR Switzerland was in itself an invitation for collaboration and to continue the dialogue on culture and its encompassing role in the Swiss society. As Dr. Christa Uehlinger, the president mentioned, there is plenty to look forward to as we work alongside our members to grow SIETAR Switzerland together, not only for the good of society and professional merits, but also for our own personal enrichment.



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