Jumping into the backseat of a black Peugeot in Porto, I breathlessly asked the Uber driver if he knew where I was heading.
Shifting slightly in the front seat, he adjusted his GPS and whispered, “Are yo……..go………on.”
“I’m sorry,” I prodded, “would you mind repeating that?”
“Are you go……to…statio…..?” he mumbled into the rearview mirror as if the reflection would help me decipher his clenched teeth.
By the third attempt, I just about climbed into the front seat and begged, “Dude, just get whatever you’re saying out! Don’t keep it inside. Just let it all go!”
That sense of quiet determination has been one of the many calling cards for Portugal. If you’re looking for some of the most loving, kind and caring people on the planet, they’re here, but to find their humble voices above the roar of the world, you’ll have to listen very carefully.
This past weekend, Speak UP Portugal! had the privilege of hosting a Masterclass with Connect to Success and FLAD to tackle this very question: what are the top 3 ways Portugal can effectively compete in the international market. Traveling as far as Brazil, our Portuguese speaking audience was packed with powerful, determined female entrepreneurs seeking a cross-cultural jump into new markets. They’re hungry for information, eager to grow and more than happy to engage with new ideas. Quite frankly, we couldn’t asked for a better audience!
What follows below are a few cross-cultural communication tips we explored during the session:
1. Know Thyself and Keep an Open Heart
Despite our need to take on a half-dozen roles throughout the day, the age of the professional self versus the private self are over! Because quite honestly, who wants to feel sterile, robotic and completely void of a emotion or personality anyway? You’re human! And as long as you don’t have a secret twin roaming the planet, there’s only one of you, which means we need you! All of you! Unfortunately, many of us feel a need to hide who we are, thinking a suit or a powerpoint of graphs and charts will sell it. Guess what? It doesn’t! If you’re not proud of who you are – whether that’s Portuguese, female or budding basket weaver – your body will express it.
Communication Tool: Always keep your heart open and ready for business. Crossing your arms, shifting your shoulders forward or looking down at your feet all communicate “I’m not open for business.”By grounding yourself, and leaving your upper body exposed to the world, you express an eagerness to learn, to grow and to tackle new challenges. Risk feeling vulnerable!
2. Take a Long Deep Breath and Ask for It!
How often do you make a “To Do” list? For some, it’s daily, for others, it’s on the hour. But…how often do you make an “I Want” list? More than likely, it happens on New Years, major birthdays or after you’ve overcome a bad case of food poisoning. “Jesus, I never want to eat at Carlos’ Churrasqueira again!” To know what you want is scary. We get it! But by not knowing what you want, what you truly want, you can’t ask for it. If you’re dreaming of partnering with a Fortune 500 company and are terrified they’ll slam the phone down before you can even utter the words, “Hello, my name is…”, you’ll remain stagnant. The unknown is part of the package, it’s part of life, but there are solid ways to overcome that fear.
Communication Tool: Use that big beautiful set of lungs you have! They’re your guiding ship, your compass and your port of safety. When fear strikes, breathe! Practice a pause after each sentence when putting together your pitch. It may feel ridiculous in the beginning, but those pauses help slow down your thoughts, narrow your focus and calm your nerves. Effective breathing allows you to control your message and help cultivate a sense of confidence and determination.
3. Trust the World Around You
How often have we been told not to trust strangers? If you’re coming from my neck of the woods, Chicago, it’s daily! The irony is that strangers are your best link to getting what you need and want. This is what makes networking so powerful! Everyone needs something, right? By exposing your unique set of values to the world around you, by being bold and vulnerable, the world will reciprocate in kind. It’s the law of attraction!
Communication Tool: Don’t hide! When going beyond Portuguese borders reach out in any language you can muster. The act of connecting, of making the effort to find a middle ground, will open hundreds of doors. Remember, there’s no such thing as perfection when speaking a foreign language! People genuinely want to see you succeed, and are willing to go a long way to help you reach your goals. So take a leap and connect!
An enormous thank you to the Connect to Success team and all of the women that joined us this past weekend. More information about future workshops and events coming soon!