Tonight is the night of the much-anticipated Brit awards where we will be dazzled by performances by Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift and Kanye West. Yes, you heard us, King Douche Kanye West will be gracing our humble British shores with his presence and will be reigning at the Brit awards this year.
It’s been quite a year already for Kanye and we’re only into our second month. So far, he has launched his fashion collection at New York Fashion Week inspired by the London riots of 2011 (were they all wearing one shoe after looting Foot Locker?) he has engaged in an increasingly bitter Twitter fight started between his ex girlfriend, Amber Rose and his sister-in-law Khloe Kardashian where he essentially calls Rose out for being a ‘hoe’. Oh dear, Kanye, so much drama already. When coming to the much more reserved UK, perhaps you should be aware of the cultural differences before you go on stage tonight. Here are some helpful tips:
Do not announce to the Brit audience that your daughter is the same as Prince George. Yes, we think she is very stylish and incredibly cute but future queen of England? It’s not impossible but incredibly unlikely.
In fact, please leave your daughter at home. We would suggest leaving her somewhere you can find her, perhaps in a north westerly direction. Her tantrums at New York Fashion Week may have seemed empathetically endearing to you but in Britain, we do not encourage spoilt ungrateful young children to ruin an otherwise pleasant afternoon for grown ups. Harper Beckham proved that it is possible to be a toddler and well-behaved at fashion shows, perhaps North can take some valuable lessons from her. Alternatively, she may enjoy a visit to Hamley’s on Regent Street or the Natural History Museum but not the Brits.
Please keep your opinions to yourself. It is widely regarded that Taylor Swift is the queen of music and happiness. If she wins tonight, please do not storm the stage in protest. We are aware that you need to be noticed every five minutes or so but please leave the winners alone. If you do not agree with the results of the evening, perhaps write a letter of complaint (how very British) and we will deal with it in a timely manner in the next six to twelve months.
Understand that the world does not revolve around you. Who can forget the time that humble Kanye compared his struggles to those of Solomon Northup in 12 years a slave? We in Britain are much less fond of boasting about our achievements and prefer the art of self deprecation rather than going on and on about how good we are. We understand that you really like your friends, Beyoncé and Jay-Z (as we do too), but they don’t have to win everything. Give others a chance. Take a back seat.
Finally, there’s nothing we hate more in Britain than self-aggrandising idiots and you seem to be a master of the art of idiocy. Our best advice for you would be to get hold of a copy of The Diversity Dashboard, it’s full of easy to follow advice on communication techniques to guarantee you’ll be well received in any situation.
If rumours are to be believed, this is the final week that The Sun are featuring topless models on page three. This can be seen as a huge victory for the No More Page 3 campaign, whose message is that ‘boobs aren’t news’. Being a media company, we cannot quite understand the need for so many boobs every day. To be honest, we’re really quite glad that they’re going. It turns out that you really can have too much of a good thing.
The more arguments we have read in the past few days in favour of page 3, the more ridiculous it all seems. One topless model, who shall remain nameless to protect her dignity, tweeted:
It would seem that the emphasis on how page 3 promotes beauty and healthy women is key to its remaining a key part of British culture. Beauty is subjective, and there are many people who think that the ‘ugly feminists’ that you refer to are incredibly beautiful.
Another baffling argument is that page 3 is inherent to the British culture. Just like cups of tea, the monarchy and awkward silences, Britain just wouldn’t be the same without a pair of knockers to look at while eating our cornflakes. Of course, one could say that if you don’t want to look at it, don’t buy it, but the point is that it is there, it is demeaning, we should be celebrating women’s achievements and reading about real news rather than listening to the latest DDD telling us about her concerns regarding the situation in Syria. I am yet to see a topless man in speedos on page 3 greet me on my way to work, but perhaps that is a very good thing indeed!
Whether or not this is just ‘harmless fun’, perhaps it would be better places in a magazine better suited than a morning newspaper. It becomes difficult to take the ‘hard-hitting’ journalism with a spoonful of boobs. On the subject of culture crashes, Eilidh Milnes and Deborah Swallow, authors of The diversity dashboard have some helpful advice with regards to nude pictures of women, particularly when crossing borders:
A successful UK construction company had delivered several building contracts in Dubai. There were many lucrative deals in the pipeline and Greg Martin was confident that he had established a good working relationship with his Arab counterparts. He then employed a marketing director who had little or no experience of working in UAE. It was Christmas time and the new director decided to send gifts of calendars to Dubai. His UK clients loved them, so he did not think to check with the CEO. The response to the prestigious Pirelli calendars was not what he expected…
The Pirelli calendar is famous for its limited availability as it is only given as a corporate gift to a restricted number of important Pirelli customers and celebrity VIPs. The calendar pictures are generally considered ‘glamour photography’ – naked women. It is a totally inappropriate gift for the region and the reaction from Dubai was immediate shock, horror and dismay. The whole enterprise was jeopardized and Greg Martin had to fly out immediately to placate his client. There was a ceremonial burning of the calendars and a tremendous loss of face. To date Greg has done no further work in the Emirates.
We’re all familiar with the British MPs’ expenses scandal, which shocked tax payers, revealing that duck houses were more important uses of our money than improvements to the NHS. Two of Japan’s ministers have stepped down today after it was revealed that they had taken advantage of the claims system. However, this is not merely a blow for the government, but for feminism and women’s rights in Japan.
One minister to resign was hotly tipped to be the country’s first female leader, which would have bolstered the feminist movement in Asia and promoted gender equality in a country slightly late to that party.
Elidh Milnes and Dr Deborah Swallow’s book, The diversity dashboard, offers advice to women wishing to do business in Japan and how to avoid the pitfalls of working in an unfamiliar culture.
Starting a new job is always daunting; moving to a new country even more so. Else, a middle-aged Danish lady, has made the move to Tokushima, Japan, in order to experience a new culture and progress her career. Before she moved to Japan, she was the general manager in a popular soft-drink company. Else led by example and encouraged her staff to work in an inclusive work environment where each member of the team was treated equally and each role was viewed as just as important as the next. She was more like a mentor than a manager and this put a spring in her step each morning.
On the first day at work in the company in Tokushima, Else was greeted by three well-dressed men: not a woman in sight except for the girl at reception. Instantly she sensed the male-dominated environment and over the next few weeks she began to feel insignificant. Although no one said anything directly to Else, she found her points of view were shunned, her self-esteem bruised, and she felt put down. Her management style was achieving nothing and she was getting nowhere.
In Japan, hierarchy is an all important feature of management. An English male colleague who had been working in the firm for two years explained, ‘The work culture in Japan makes a clear differentiation between male and female roles. It is a rigid structure and although multinational companies are more used to women in the workforce, the traditional Japanese companies still only have men as senior managers.’
A recent survey suggests that: ‘Gender inequality causes resentment, anger and reduced life satisfaction more among European and American women than among Chinese women, who value gender equality less. Chinese women consider gender inequality to be less unjust and less unfair.’
One hopes that this does not harm the feminist movement in Japan and that social progression continues apace. We may have to send over Germaine Greer!
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits New York this week to try to improve his nation’s fragile relationship with the US.
Relations between Delhi and Washington almost collapsed in 2013 when the Indian deputy consul general in the US was arrested, strip-searched and detained by police in New York on charges of fraud, prompting furious accusations of disrespectful bullying from India. In return US commentators seemed to be condescending by accusing India of overreaction and behaviour unbecoming of an aspirant future power.
Americans and Indians have different ways of communicating and both Barack Obama and Narendra Modi would do well to download The Diversity Dashboard by Deborah Swallow and Eilidh Milnes before they meet. Swallow and Milnes give striking examples of the different ways that people from the US and India communicate, such as the one below:
Visitors to the United States may be surprised to find that arguments seem focused on winning, with little or no effort toward maintaining harmony or recognizing or deferring to the status or sensibilities of the others involved. US Americans may appear to use phony smiles and be too animated, and the need to always express things in positive terms may be interpreted as naiveté. They also tend to speak loudly to show enthusiasm, and feel being positive and optimistic avoids needless confrontation and gets the best results in both work and life. They tend to be animated, outgoing, use facial expressions and considerable eye contact. They are uncomfortable with silences. An overriding value is to speak up and voice opinions.
John, an American, was on a conference call to Prakesh in India. He said, ‘This proposal is poorly prepared. Have it re-done by 15.00 hours tomorrow, Saturday.’ Prakesh was upset and complained about John’s rudeness to his team leader, and asked for a transfer to a department where he would report to a native Indian.
We were called into support with cultural training. We explained the difference between straight talking and indirect communication. The latter allows the possibility for saving face, shame or embarrassment for both sides. ‘Looks like this piece of work will need to be finished during the weekend,’ is a more indirect way of saying, ‘You need to work on Saturday!’ or ‘Can you work on Saturday?’ The challenge is the mismatch of words and expectations. When a direct manager listens to an indirect employee he may think the person is taking a long time to get to the point or even being deliberately awkward and obscure. The opposite is true for indirect communicators, who see straight talking as rude and aggressive.
You see, direct communicators sound authoritarian and are often perceived as insensitive. If you work for them, they do not hesitate to tell you what to do and when to do it. Meanings are explicit and on the surface. They are driven by a strong sense of ‘now’. They are often in a hurry to get the job done. They get to the bottom line quickly and don’t have much patience with those who, in their opinion, beat around the bush. They are frequently brutally honest in their interactions. They are comfortable expressing their emotions outwardly, and do so routinely. They look people in the eye and, if this is not returned, they are suspicious, lacking trust. In western cultures communication is explicit, direct and unambiguous.
England cricket fans, administrators and players already reeling from their drubbing in the latest ODI series that ends in Leeds today should consult The Diversity Dashboard by Deborah Swallow and Eilidh Milnes. Whatever today’s result England have already been hammered by an Indian team that oozes confidence, aggression and commitment. Captained by M S Dhoni, arguably India’s best captain ever, it is likely that India will inflict a humiliating whitewash on a troubled England one-day set up today. They have their eye on next year’s world cup of course but they are looking much further ahead than that. Perhaps the difference is essentially cultural. Here are Swallow and Milnes on one difference between British and subcontinental mindsets:
Patrick was surprised there hadn’t been more changes since the takeover. He had expected that at least a few heads would have rolled, but here they were, all the old senior management team, waiting for a meeting with the new CEO. It seemed the new Indian owners of the British steel works had a real laissez-faire attitude to their take over. Patrick presented his new business plan and spoke about the investment needed over the next five years. He was prepared and ready for questions – except for the two he got: ‘Why have you only planned for five years?’ and ‘What would the plan look like if we doubled the investment?’
Asian cultures have a long-term orientation. Success will come in time with sustained effort. In these organizations, managers are allowed time and resources to make their own contributions. Measures such as market position, sales growth, and customer satisfaction are key in evaluating business performance. These take time to realize and are more important than short-term results. Asians accept deferred gratification of needs. There is an investment in lifelong personal networks and sensitivity to the interrelatedness of social and business contacts.
Perhaps Ashley Giles should take note.
As per usual, we in the Infinite Ideas office are entertained by the latest celebrity scandals. Today we were amused to read about Orlando Bloom throwing a punch at tween icon, Justin Bieber. While we empathise with Bloom, who seemed infuriated at the concept of young Bieber romancing his ex-wife, we do not advocate violence* and so we have decided to prescribe Mr Bloom some good old-fashioned anger management.
The brilliant book of calm offers excellent tips on how to beat those angry urges:
Anger in and of itself is not bad. If it was then you’d never have had the civil rights movement, women would never have got the vote, we would not have been able to remove corrupt leaders from our governments; quite a few good things have resulted from a well-placed sense of righteous anger. What’s bad is when you hurt someone else – either emotionally or physically – because you’re unable to express your anger appropriately.
Also, when you feel angry about something, consider fi rst if there is anything constructive you can do about it. Write to your MP? Write a letter of complaint? Ask to see a manager? Go to marriage or career counselling? Once you’ve exhausted the constructive ‘dealing with the problem’ options, look at dealing with the emotion. Physical exercise tends to drain away anger like nothing else. So perhaps you could go for a swim or a walk? Above all, don’t take your anger out on your friends and family. They are your support network and you should be kind to them. You know it makes sense.
Apart from anger management courses, you can remove yourself from the situation and go for a short walk to calm down. Or consider taking up an energetic sport like boxing or martial arts to channel your aggression safely. If you start to feel out of control, speak to your GP, who can also check for hormonal imbalance and advise on counselling services.
*In this case, we are in Bloom’s corner; Bieber had it coming!