In the country where the Salsa and Tango was born, they know exactly why it takes 2-2- Tango. The Argentinians lives are designed around the dance of Life.
This isn’t always the case in Northern Hemispherical countries, as the following story reveals. Just the other day a cheerful, vividly and lively Latin- American woman, originally coming from such a smaller city close to Buenos Aires shared her experience of working in the Netherlands with Dutchies.
Your body language just can’t hide…
Just the other day a cheerful, vividly and lively Latin- American woman, originally coming from such a smaller city close to Buenos Aires shared her experience of working in the Netherlands with Dutchies.
Eloisa is a young Argentinian woman who for the last couple of years is working in an international company located in a Dutch office building in the greater Rotterdam area. The majority of her her colleagues are Dutch and although she tries her very best to come up with positive impressions related to her colleagues, interesting enough her body language shows the exact opposite. In her bodily posture she takes us with her to her office where she just gets in and wishes everyone a very good morning. As she enters the office, some of her colleagues started off working already, siting up strait behind their desktops.
Now I can see how she straitens her back and easily imaginary her fingers quickly slide over the keyboard as they half-nodding and semi- interesting mixed politely reply to her ‘good morning’ – greeting. Eyes remain glued to the screen. This same ritual repeats itself while wrapping up the day, in starting to leave the office. Her Dutch colleagues collect their belongings and on their way out there is a little chitchat here and there about what to do this evening, over the weekend and for the upcoming Holiday Season. Wishing one another a pleasant evening as they grab their messenger-bags, their voices fade away in the chilled air of the dreary evening. Off they go. To me, it becomes really clear that our Dutch working attitude and ethic is horrifying to her. This is how people from ‘Specific’ countries tend to work; It measures the differences in how people engage colleagues in specific or multiple or diffuse areas of their lives. People from ‘Specific’ countries tend to keep private and business agendas separate, having a completely different relation of authority in each social group.
Salsa & Tango
So, what is it that makes this working attitude so hard for Eloisa? It’s obvious that where Eloisa comes from isn’t a country having a ‘Specific’ working-attitude but a rather so-called ‘Diffuse’-working working attitude. Let’s see if we can picture it, so buckle up and let’s start the journey: on a sunny afternoon you find yourself wondering around the old city center of small town Northeast of Buenos Aires, Argentina. The temperatures moderate your walking speed and as you are slowing down in the small alleys of the city you notice how the Spanish influences at each and every street corner still are so remarkable. As you turn the corner your eyes feel attracted to the old buildings with its paint charged cast iron balconies, where cloths hang to dry in the breeze of spring. People from “Diffuse”–working countries the authority level at work can reflect into social areas, and employees can adopt a subordinated attitude when meeting their managers outside office hours.
In coming from the “Diffuse” – country of Salsa and Tango, where your friends are your colleagues and your colleagues are your friends, I noticed I couldn’t help feeling really sorry for her, in trying to import some of that Latin culture to her Dutch colleagues. In just picturing her in a concrete office building making an effort day after day to bring in some of that bright and colorful Latin sparks, and yet noticing all of them fading away and turning grey even before the first break at the coffee machine.
Party time during office hours in India
In answering my question in which country she has experienced party time during office hours she almost turned into a different personality. She rearranged her posture, at the rhythm of her arms moving lively her eyes brighten and in a high pitch of voice she starts shares her work experience in India. In admitting that the people from India – another ‘Diffuse’-country– firstly confused her in their work ethic and different way of coping with time (but this is for yet another blog) she quite quickly got the hang of their working ethic, which basically comes down to weeks and weeks of very long working days and extensive working hours. When the job just needs to be done, no matter what. Now her colleagues just keep on going and keep on working, long working weeks, after long working days, when morning turns into afternoon, into late afternoon, into early evening, into late evening, into mid night, into dawn. When working hours become leisure time, you work with your colleagues and you spent your off office hours with them as well. Your colleagues are your friends and therefor your friends are your colleagues, and the other way around.
And in this dawn when the project must be finalized I picture her again, this time in a dusty, damp brick office building in the Chennai Bay Area surrounded by Indian colleagues at aiming at the deadline of the project. In this ‘Diffuse’– managerial style each decision takes into account the entire process by which a product is conceived, each decision effects everything.
And all there is needed is one simple and effective rule to it all, the Indians even have a Hindi-Urdu colloquial word for this, which is the word ‘Jugaad’. This word means an innovative fix or a simple work-around, used to solutions that bend around rules, or a resource that can be used as such, or a person that can solve a complicated issue-. In the light of this project everyone stays until the work is done and office hours and off office hours seamlessly become one and the same; and yes there’s room for dancing the Tango.