26, September 2016
It was all Greek to me!
It was during my first week in America, when I asked someone where the nearest garage (gas station) was; I went to Subway and asked for biscuits instead of cookies; I asked my barber to trim my sideboards (sideburns); I placed my first trunk call (long distance call), and I purchased my first Polo jumper (sweater).
The reason why I created confusion is that I learned British English in a Greek private school since I was 9 years old. I had not realized that British and American English differ.
It was all Greek to me. I had just turned 21 when I arrived to Michigan from Greece to continue my studies at a local university. I never experienced cultural differences in Greece. Growing up in a homogeneous country, you were surrounded with white people, mostly Greeks, Greek food, Greek history, Greek language, Greek customs, Greek traditions and Greek everything.
I first realized that cultural differences exist during my overseas flight to America. It all started when I loudly screamed, “I lost my purse, I lost my purse.” “Sir, please calm down!” said the German airhostess as she handed my missing wallet. When she asked me if everything was in place, I signaled OK to her using the ring gesture (thumb and index circle), not knowing that this gesture in Germany is a reference to the receiver’s anatomy.
Not only did the airhostess face drop, but my Brazilian co passenger’s face as well.
You see, the ring or OK gesture in Brazil is also an offensive gesture. From that moment, I had just created my first two enemies without even realizing it. I could not understand why both women where not as friendly as before. I could not understand what I have said to offend them. It was a mystery. It took years to realize that it was not what I have said that created the confusion; it was my body language that communicated the wrong signal.
Travel with me to Greece, North Dakota and throughout the world to:
Explore how to get past the drama of difficult people!
Improve work relationships and teambuilding!
Reduce stress and keep calm when kittens become tigers at work!
Discuss solutions to managing workplace communication to better lead and succeed!
Explore tools to motivate different personalities and generations at work!
Share secrets to bridging the generational gap as work!
Kostas Voutsas, MBA MSHR/OD
Assistant Professor of Business
Motivational Speaker, Consultant, Author
Dickinson State University
1815 Schafer St.
Bismarck, ND 58506
Book: Secrets to Making Diversity Work
Kostas has been teaching Management and Human Resource courses for 18+ years. He is a tenured Professor of Business at Dickinson State University (DSU) at the Bismarck campus. He is also an author, a corporate trainer and keynote motivational speaker. Kostas, the 2013 educator of the year Bismarck Chamber award recipient, also received the distinguished teacher of the year award at DSU, the highest faculty award, the outstanding teacher of the year award, as well as the TRIO outstanding faculty award from DSU. He also received two outstanding presenter awards from Eastern Michigan University and the Clute Institute of Academic Research. Kostas delivers humorous dynamic presentations at national and state conferences and publishes his research in scholarly journals. He also serves as a consultant conducting individualized training/professional development seminars. His book “Secrets to Making Diversity Work” also discusses gender, cultural, and generational differences. Kostas has a Master of Science degree in Human Resources and Organizational Development and a MBA in General Business.