How to a Turn Social Blunder into an Excellent Life Lesson

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How to Turn a Social Blunder into an Excellent Life Lesson

Personality Types & Work Styles – And a Cross-Cultural Life Lesson

Not long ago I was on a webinar, listening to Carson Tate, a productivity coach, share about four types of personality types / work styles she has identified. They are the Prioritizer, the Planner, the Arranger, and the Visualizer.

She has written volumes on this, so the best way to learn about her ideas would be to visit her website. Safe to summarize here.

Prioritizers are task-based people who love data, checklists and order. They communicate in short sentences and short emails. They prefer getting the job done and do not have a high tolerance for people and meetings that go off on tangents.

Planners are also orderly but focus more on calendars and sticking to predetermined timeframes and plans. They are highly productive, thrive on accomplishing tasks, but do not respond well to change.

Arrangers use many methods, are very concerned about their workspace and the visual appearance of what they create and communicate, are into color and design, are somewhat orderly (but not as much as the prior two), and are highly relational.

Visualizers are big-picture people. They do not like to get bogged down in details. They are creative, impulsive, expressive. And their work spaces are often chaotic. For a Visualizer, it’s “out of sight, out of mind.” So everything remains “out” lest it be forgotten.

Although most of us have some of all, we usually have one dominant and one subdominant style. For me, I immediately recognized myself as the Arranger. Here’s where it gets cultural – and interesting. And learned a valuable life lesson about the power of symbols.

My Laptop & The Lightbulb Moment

I use my laptop almost every day. So I like it to look the way I want it to look. I like its outer appearance to express who I am. For a long time I had this Tiffany blue case on it, but recently it broke. When I took it off, I discovered I had a sticker on the laptop itself. I had forgotten about that. That sticker is an outline of a lightbulb, centered around my gleaming apple when I turn the computer on.

I liked the idea of expressing creativity, so I went ahead and purchased a clear case. “That’s easy,” I thought.

A few nights later we met with some Turkish friends, Aydin and Nadia. Although they were ordered to return home by the increasingly repressive government a few months ago, they have decided to stay for fear of their lives. My husband and I are their friends, and are trying to support them as they discern what to do.

I brought my laptop to their place because I had some information I wanted to pass on to them, and not so so through the internet.

Mixed Messages – And a Cross-Cultural Learning Experience

When I pulled out my laptop and opened it, I saw both stare at it. And then at me. And then at it again. Something went immediately awkward.

“Um, what that symbol means here in the States, in the West?” Aydin inquired.

“It communicates creativity, ideas, innovation,” I responded.

“Hmmm, that’s interesting and makes sense,” he said with a sound of circumspection in his voice. “Did you know that is the symbol of the AK Party?” The AK Party in Turkey is President Erdogan’s party, the one that is cracking down in repressive ways throughout Turkish society. The one they are trying to escape.

“No way,” I responded, aghast. “You’re kidding, right?”

Then Aydin went to his laptop and pulled up the symbol of the AK Party.

“I had no idea….” My voice trailed off. I immediately felt bad. And I knew I’d need to get that sticker off there sometime soon. Even though the clear case had not arrived, I was already thinking about alternative laptop designer plans. Remember, I’m an Arranger.

Aydin and Nadia looked at me in a joking way. “You’re not a spy, are you?”

We all laughed. We knew how crazy and unlikely that would be. Still.

“You know, it makes sense they would use such a symbol,” Aydin went on. “They are clever, the AK. It makes sense they would use a symbol that carries that kind of meaning in the West for their logo. I think they want to make a statement to the West by using it.”

No question.

A small thing. But a powerful message and life lesson. As cross-culturally aware as I am and desire to be, I couldn’t have seen that coming.

Always something to learn as we communicate, live, and love across cultures.

Can you recall a time where you made a cross-cultural mistake like this? What happened when you realized it?


Image credit: PIRO4D on Pixabay

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Caroline DePalatis

Founder & Interculturalist at CultureWeave
Caroline DePalatis has worked in the field of international education and service for over 20 years. A graduate of Stanford University and the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, she's still doing much of what she was trained in: bringing people of the world together. A committed Christ-follower, Caroline longs to shine the Master Designer's awesome creativity expressed through the cultures, languages, peoples and places of our world. And then there's dark chocolate. Definitely a channel for intercultural communications!
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Interculturalist

Caroline DePalatis has worked in the field of international education and service for over 20 years. A graduate of Stanford University and the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, she's still doing much of what she was trained in: bringing people of the world together. A committed Christ-follower, Caroline longs to shine the Master Designer's awesome creativity expressed through the cultures, languages, peoples and places of our world. And then there's dark chocolate. Definitely a channel for intercultural communications!