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How to Develop Your Intercultural Awareness to Communicate More Effectively Across Cultures

In this episode, I spoke to Vanessa Paisley who is an experienced Global Competence, relocation and repatriation trainer and coach. She supports people in the process of moving countries, creating a space where they can discover and live their lives to the full, gaining the maximum potential out of the enriching adventure both abroad and back home.

I wanted to know more about her own personal experiences with overcoming culture shock and how she helps people to develop their intercultural competences to work across and within different cultures. She has a blog where she shares a lot of very useful information around these themes.

Vanessa's contact details:

Want to do The International Profiler evaluation with Vanessa?

Get in contact with Vanessa on LinkedIn or her website.

We discuss:

Culture shock and reverse culture shock & ways to adapt

✨ Why we both love teaching languages in context

Intercultural Communication and why it matters when you're working across cultures

The International Profiler and 5 Competences you can develop to improve your communication skills

In episode 4 I discussed some vocabulary we used in the episode especially phrasal verbs and expressions.

Books & Resources

📚 The Culture Map, Erin Meyer

📚 No Rules Rules, Erin Meyer and Reed Hastings

Recommended episodes:

Episode 4 : 3 Easy Ways You Can Learn Phrasal Verbs and Expressions More Efficiently

Episode 1: How to Build Your English Confidence: for Architects and Built Design Professionals

✨ Connect with me on LinkedIn Tara Cull

✨ Extended Show Notes and Full Transcript:

Ready to take action to speak up and share your voice?

Ready to start making a BIG impact on your English & building the architecture career you want?

You know it's time to make a change and you've got to start somewhere. In the evaluation and action plan, you will get my best tips so you stop the self-doubt and start taking action now. Take me to the action plan


Table of Contents

Books and Resources


Transcript Images of Expressions


antiquated - old-fashioned or outdated.

bringing something up - make a note of something

culture shock -

to flag something (flagging something) - brining something to someone's attention

get the balance - make sure you maintain balance in life

honeymoon period - the early stages of something when it seems happy and fun

monocultural communication - communication between people from the same culture

repatriation - the return of someone to their country


Quick Find Snippets - Take me straight to these sections

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 00:00

You're listening to Think Big Episode 5.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 00:11

Hello Big thinkers and welcome to another episode of Think Big English for architects. I'm your host, Tara Cull, and Neurolanguage coach, English teacher, and landscape architect. I help people in the built design profession who speak English as a second language to build outstanding communication skills to help them find their voice and to speak up. And you can learn more about my coaching programmes at Now, of course, I do all of this from my house from my place in Montpellier in France. So as you may already know, I am an Australian, as you can tell from my Aussie accent, but I live in France. So just like you, I am also adapting and understanding what it feels like to live in a different culture. So the purpose of this podcast really is to share stories from architects and about architecture and its various disciplines. But it's also to talk about things that will help you with your English learning. So that does include things like adapting to a new culture, and culture shock, and intercultural training, all of these things to help you adapt and get the best job or how to live the best life possible in your home away from home. So the podcast is for everyone. But it's also a listening resource, first and foremost for my clients and English learners, from the discipline of architecture, or even those who are just interested in architecture, and anything that I have to say, really. And hopefully, this will help you to improve your listening comprehension and your critical thinking skills, the expression of ideas, and also around your motivation to do with living and working in a different culture. And so today, I wanted to share a fantastic interview that I had recently with Vanessa Paisley. And you can find out more about her work at Paisley hyphen So I'll include all the links to her website and all the things that we discussed today in the show notes, and in the blog post for the episode. In today's episode, I really wanted to know more about Vanessa's story and her experience with cross-cultural training and experiencing living and working in a different culture. And you can really see how she brings her passion. She brings her experience into her work and how this has taught her so much about the people that she works with, and also her own experiences. Throughout the episode you'll notice we use some expressions phrasal verbs, and we talk about sometimes how it's not about what you say but how you say it. So I wanted to discuss this in a little more detail without making this episode too long. So I've made a mini Episode Four, to discuss some of these expressions, and how you can learn them more effectively. It's only a short episode, so go and listen to that first if you think you'd like more explanation.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 03:19

Before we get started in the interview today, I wanted to explain a little bit more about who Vanessa is and what she does. She is a trainer, a lecturer and a coach in cross cultural communication and teaching English as a second language. Now back in the UK, she lived in Austria for 23 years, and has trained and coached clients across all levels in universities, and a variety of industries including hotel and catering technology, logistics, politics, engineering, luxury travel, Media and Sport. She has a master's in Communication Studies and is licenced to use a developmental tool for intercultural competences called the International profiler. And we'll talk a little bit more about this in the interview. She delivers training in both English and German. And in her job she sees herself as the mediator, encouraging people to find out more about the world. And just like myself, she believes that the worlds of language and communication are very much interlinked, and she enjoys supporting non native speakers in developing their confidence when working in an international context. In our corporate training, she regularly delivers country specific coaching for living and working in the UK. So other popular topics include working with a global mindset, and cross cultural team building. So thank you very much for joining me today, Vanessa. I'm super excited to have this conversation and I'm ready to listen to this story.

Vanessa Paisley 04:58

Thanks, Tara, and thanks for having me. It's a real pleasure to be here today.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 05:02

Yes, as, as we've had these conversations before, it's something that we could definitely talk about for a long time. So it's going to be an exciting conversation. And really just reading your introduction has made me very excited to go further into some of those topics. So storytelling is obviously something that's very important. And it's something that I've touched on in previous episodes. So I'm really interested, firstly, to hear where your story began. And could you talk us through your story of travelling the world and then coming full circle to return home?

Vanessa Paisley 05:38

Yeah, sure. So I'm British, of British parentage, but I was actually born in Tanzania. So my life sort of started abroad. And then I actually moved back to the UK when I was six months old. So I never really experienced that sort of ex part lifestyle. But obviously, you know, I came back and then I grew up in a town just a few, like miles north of London, very small. I've actually come back to that area now. So it's quite funny. But my parents, I guess, you would have called them globe trotters at a time when there weren't very many people travelling. And my dad continued to travel and work abroad when I was a kid. And then I always used to say, Oh, can we go abroad on holiday and my dad was very much against it, because he'd been away, you know, putting up electricity pylons in the Andes, in Peru for six months at a time. So he just wants to, and we were like, as kids go, please, please. And I think that's what inspired me then. So I got interested in languages at school, I did French I did German, I went on exchange trips. And I eventually studied German, which took me to Vienna on my year abroad in 1989. And that was quite unusual being an exchange student in those days, because there wasn't any Erasmus programmes or anything. So I was quite exotic, I suppose being abroad then. And then when I finished my degree in the UK, I got a job teaching English in Vienna, as a language assistant in two schools. And I went there, and I decided to stay there. And I got a job as a journalist in Vienna, my boyfriend was from another part of Austria, and I ended up moving to the western part of Austria with him, I actually found it really hard. That's when I went through culture shock. So I was quite young, I was like, 24, you know, had a really outgoing career in Vienna. And I ended up in this very rural part of Austria and didn't really know what to do with myself. I eventually acclimatized, got settled, spit out with that boyfriend, by the way, but then moved on and got back, you know, and then I basically got married there and and then I was teaching English. And then I eventually moved into this cross cultural fields, just because it seemed like a natural progression for me.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 08:04

So when you moved to Vienna to begin with, what was your level of German? Did you feel comfortable enough to converse with people?

Vanessa Paisley 08:11

And yeah, I mean, I think when I arrived as a student, on that year abroad, it was really strange, because I was almost a bit embarrassed to say that I was studying German, because I didn't understand anybody who's live living in the student accommodation with me, because they were all from different parts of Austria, and had different dialects. But of course, you I picked up the sort of local language quite quickly, and it was an advantage. Speaking, German, definitely, you know, I think you might I, you underestimate how difficult it is if people don't speak the language, or they just know what they learn at school. And then they don't understand anybody. So what's the point being able to like, I don't know, read Bertolt Brecht in German, but you can't order a beer and be understood. I think there's a real mismatch there between what we learn in educational establishments and what we need.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 09:07

Absolutely, I could not agree with you more, I think it's so important to be able to order a beer in, in a country where they make it really well. And so you talked originally about undergoing culture shock, which I think is a really important topic for us to kind of talk about because a lot of the clients that you work with a lot of the clients that I work with experience culture shock, and it's a really difficult thing for them to go through. Can you tell us a little bit more if it's okay, tell us more about how you overcame that culture shock? And how what things you would share with other people going through the same thing?

Vanessa Paisley 09:43

Yeah, sure. So I think it's often underestimated how difficult it is. Because culture shock people go Oh, well, in America, you always get iced water and I don't like iced water. That's culture shock. You know, if I ever asked students what is it though? come up with some really funny ideas like in the UK everybody eats a full breakfast every day that No, no, that's not culture shock. Those are just things you experience on the surface, aren't they? That made you realise you're in a different place. But I think we often talk about the culture shock curve. So when you arrive in a place, it's like the honeymoon period, everything's great, you see all the nice things. And at some point, you realise you've got to adjust your behaviour, your style of living if you're going to fit in with that culture. And that can be a real dip. And some people like come through that very quickly, they learn the language, they find hobbies straight away that they did back at home, they make friends, they get a job, all of these things make that curve smaller, but some people get stuck in the bottom. And I think I definitely experienced that when I moved to the western part of Austria because I think it's because I didn't have a job. So I didn't meet anybody I had, my whole self-worth was really low. And obviously being quite young, I just didn't really know what was wrong with me. But I do remember there were times when I didn't really want to leave the flat. And to get through it, I eventually didn't get any help because it didn't exist back in those days. Right now you get x pack coaching and all these things. But I actually joined a gym, and I met loads of like-minded people. And I think by doing sport, getting fit, and then meeting people socialising. I think that's so important. I mean, I don't know what it was like for you. I mean, did you experience culture shock in?

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 11:48

Absolutely. So I mean, as you were talking, I was thinking, yes, it's right. Like, I think it's really important to step outside your comfort zone. I mean, I think I spent the first 12 months living here not really wanting to leave either, because I think I, I saw a post the other day on LinkedIn, somebody's talking about, you know, culture shock, is that idea of when you're walking to the supermarket, you're thinking, what do I say, if somebody speaks to me, or you're rehearsing in your head, what you need to say, there, those sorts of things that I experienced, like, oh, okay, I don't know what I'm going to be able to say, or what happens if this happens, and it just makes everything a bit more stressful. I definitely experienced culture shock in the beginning, and you almost lose an aspect of your identity where, you know, one way that you were, where you where you've come from, you have to change. So I know one thing for me is being in a group of people and not being able to ask people questions, because I love talking to people and asking him questions. So having identified that I know now that that's what I need to work on.

Vanessa Paisley 12:57

Yeah. And that's really interesting, isn't it? Because in classic language learning, you're always taught to answer questions and not really ask them. But as adults, it's an also part of building relationships is asking questions, isn't it? So I think that's Yes. And that reminds me of when I used to go out for dinner. And because I used to speak high German, and everybody would be speaking the dialect. As soon as I open my mouth, everybody out, went silent and was listening to me. And I'm not like an overly extroverted person. I'd be like, Oh, no, please carry on talking. I'll just talk to the person next to me, but I, I guess it was their way of being interested in me. But I felt as if I was had the spotlight on me, and it wasn't very comfortable.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 13:44

Yeah, I can imagine. Yeah. So it's, it's true. It's very different the ways that people react to you. And as well, like, and the other thing that I find, too, is that they want to be interested in what you have to say, but you know, sometimes you don't know how to say it, or what's appropriate to say, I know that for me, I have a big problem with I like to make jokes like silly jokes, but that doesn't really translate into French. It's sometimes I have these looks back at me like man, that doesn't translate very well. You kind of go back into your shell a little bit. So I guess what you're saying. So to overcome culture shock, it's important to step outside of your comfort zone and find something that you connect with.

Vanessa Paisley 14:29

Yeah. And also think about career wise, maybe you're going to have to change something because very often, you know, your qualified qualifications don't match the qualifications that are required in a certain country you're living. This means sometimes you have to like, take a step back, you know, bite the bullet, and then do something that you think oh, no, do I have to go back to school and do this or sometimes it's better just to get on with things and see see it as a chance or an opportunity to meet new people gain new skills rather than saying, oh, I've already done this. Now I've got to go back and get the qualification or the piece of paper, that tells me I need to do it. But it's also so it's, it's the unfamiliar getting out of your comfort zone, but also keeping daily coping mechanisms going. So if you did yoga at home, don't stop doing it. When you get to your new place, you know, I think the world's got a lot easier in that respect, you can do things online. Although I do also recommend that when you first move somewhere, you try and limit contact with home a little bit. Because otherwise you you aren't going to live in the virtual world. And it's so easy to do that, isn't it these days? So I think you've got to get the balance, right? Yeah.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 15:57

Yeah. And I mean, when you were saying that, I was thinking when I first moved here, I was pretty much talking to home every day. And so you're right, you get stuck, you get a bit stuck in this world of living into timezones or Yeah, living across different spaces. And so it prevents you from really being in the environment that you're physically living in. And but yeah, going back to what you're saying about having to adapt, I guess, because the what your qualification was back home might not necessarily translate. And this often happens for architects because they might be licenced, as an architect in the country they've come from, but it doesn't necessarily translate, or they have to do more qualifications, or they have to register again. So it can be really frustrating. And so I guess what you're saying is, it's important to be able to adapt, seek other opportunities or other training or things like that.

Vanessa Paisley 16:57

Yeah, definitely. And I think that happened to me, when I first went to Austria because I got a bachelor's degree in German, they didn't have bachelor degrees. In those days, they were only master degrees in Austria. And I remember it being crossed out, it was like it said, academic title on a form, I can't remember what it was for. And I wrote ba ions, and the women just got a pen and she crossed out. We don't have that here. You know, and then, but also coming back. I mean, this reverse culture shock wasn't a lot easier in that respect, because I've been teaching English at university level, and companies and all sorts of things. But I had to also go back and do my TEFL training my teaching English as a foreign language certificate, because in the UK, you can only use for work for British Council approved schools, and you have to have a certain qualification. So that was probably tougher, actually. Because by that point, I was, you know, in my mid 40s, thinking, Oh, I gotta go back and study the Present Perfect. I did it. So it was funny. Funny experience. Yeah.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 18:13

Yeah. So I'm also interested to talk a little bit about that reverse culture shock. So you were saying, so you lived in Vienna, and in Europe, and then you went back to the UK?

Vanessa Paisley 18:25

When did you go back to the UK? About six and a half, seven years ago? Yeah.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 18:31

And how did that feel going back to a completely different culture again.

Vanessa Paisley 18:36

I mean, that was interesting, because by that point, I was an intercultural trainer and coach, I knew about culture shock, I knew the psychological effects of it. It wasn't just a, you know, a thing that I experienced, it was something I knew, then I'd got all the theoretical knowledge. So in my mind, I was thinking, yes, I know what's going to happen. And I kind of prepared myself and I knew what was going to irritate me about Britain. I knew because I'd obviously been going living you sort of start living don't even two cultures. But when I came back, I found it hard. Actually, I did. I found the the climate quite difficult, because it's very wet in the winter, and it's darker. You wouldn't believe it in the UK because it's further north. You know, these kind of things. I missed water like because I lived by Lake Constance. I used to swim all summer. So I miss that. I miss my friends. And there were things I didn't really miss. You know, I didn't miss some of the things I had done career wise. I felt it was time I needed to do something different. I liked being close to London again of being in a vibrant, vibrant city. And I think yeah, I mean, I don't want to talk about politics too much, but I Brexit didn't help my repatriation process at all. I grew up as in a very, very pro European environment, you know, with this studying languages and always wanting to go on holiday abroad, you know, this, I was the generation that started going abroad on holidays before, you know, my generation, most families stayed in the UK and went to the seaside but so so I think that made it hard. And also because I brought my children with me and their by their bicultural, but I think I was going through reverse culture shock. And they were going through culture shock because they've never lived here. So I was very worried about that. And that was kind of two things happening at the same time that were quite complex.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 20:45

Wow, that's a really big challenge. I imagine that so was their idea of the UK more, I guess what they saw on TV or what they what happened when they went on holidays? And

Vanessa Paisley 20:55

yeah, it was kind of Yeah, seeing their cousins in the summer. And the best part, which is scones and cream tea.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 21:06

when I arrived in the UK in 2016. I arrived in winter, and I thought what have I done? What am I doing this for so silly?

Vanessa Paisley 21:20

Isn't it is hard, I think you you sort of romanticise about your country when you're not there anymore. But actually, when you when you go back, what we don't realise and I think this is a thing that is that everywhere is constantly changing. So even the things like you miss about Australia, when you go back, they some of them might not exist anymore, because times change.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 21:47

Yeah, it's like one of my friends describes it as being like, in the the Narnia cuboard. Because you go into Narnia, and you think when you come out everything will be the same, but it's not. Yeah, I think it's a good analogy. Oh, that's a good one. That is a good one. Yeah. Okay, so you've worked as an English teacher, and now you're working as an intercultural trainer. So, I'm interested actually, to know, sort of what made you make the leap into intercultural training? And what really is the difference for you in your work?

Vanessa Paisley 22:20

Okay, so, yeah, I made a change, probably in around, it's probably about 20 years ago. So basically, I remember I remember I was standing as a board writing the difference between the simple past and the present perfect. I don't know how many times I've done that in my life. I always go on about this. Look at the board thinking and I had a mixed level group of students who were studying business administration. But obviously, English was just like, part of that degree, they weren't linguists, and I had all kinds of levels in the same group. And at the end, I thought, you know what, this is not what they really need, you know, they need to be able to communicate, they were all part time students. So they were working in companies, they were salespeople, they were like, marketing department specialists. And I thought, actually, they need something else. All they need is for someone to buy a product from them, or deliver or organise the logistics, you know, delivery services. And so I thought, okay, I wonder if there's something you know, else behind it. And I started reading into intercultural communication, it was already in some of the language books actually, going back 20 years, and I'm like, Oh, I like these exercises about stereotypes or, and I decided to go and do a master's in and I actually did it in Communication Studies. And I wrote my thesis on miscommunication across cultures. And actually, it was brilliant, because at that point in time, a lot of these degree programmes around Austria, all had a semester on intercultural communication, and that you could put it in any degree programme, it could be engineering, social work. It was something it was this sort of social science, you know, psychological topic that everybody seemed to need at the time. I think it's when the world really started going global through the internet. Yeah.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 24:25

Well, it sounds like a very important leap. And I think, you know, I think the same as well, when I'm with my clients or with my students, I think you don't need to know when or why you need to use the present perfect. You need to know how to sell something or how to make people convinced of your ideas or things like that.

Vanessa Paisley 24:47

Yeah, no, I think you're right. And I think, you know, though, there's, there's room for both, you know, I do language training as well. But I am very much I think very much like you Don't just want some to teach people who just want to go from, I don't know, you know, B2 to a C2, I need more specific goals, to create a space where they find something that they're going to get out of this also as human beings, because otherwise just booking lessons and, and convincing yourself you're learning English because you're now on page 30 when you started on page one, it's not going to work like that. But I do find the culture comes into it doesn't say it because you it's the way you say things is sometimes more important than what you say. And that is culturally.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 25:44

Absolutely. And I've had so many conversations about this. And I think you and I were just talking just then about usually what I do when I'm working with clients, if I'm doing group sessions as well, I asked them the very first session, what does good communication look like? And so when you're talking about miscommunications, it's so interesting, because the answers that my French students give, are so different to the answers that my Thai students give, or the answers that people who are living in Australia give, or who have been speaking English, it's so fascinating. And so this idea that actually our cultural lens can influence the way we speak, is such an important thing to sort of unpack for people before they even start learning about, or advancing their English. I think the cultural aspect is very, very important.

Vanessa Paisley 26:37

Yeah. And I think there's been a lot of talk recently about politeness and what that means across cultures. And I think that's kind of key in this, isn't it? Because nobody sets out to upset the other person? Well, maybe, you know, you might get the odd, bad character who wants to do that? Usually, people go into business relationships, we could talk about, you know, general relationships, too. They don't go in thinking I want to miscommunicate, and annoy this person, and be rude. So obviously, if you you need to start. And I've started doing that as defining what does politeness mean to you? And we find that there are cultural differences. You know, it's some, for some, it's just observing and listening and only being spoken to when they're asked the question. But you know, in British culture that would not be seen as being polite. You've got to make small talk, make people feel welcome. Yeah. Don't sit there in silence. They will just feel awkward. It but it's interesting, isn't it? And if you can see, also assume positive intent, you know, think, don't think that everyone's here to get me. But then, of course, you know, building politeness into communication. And that's the way forward, I think, but it's not, it's not easy, because who does the moving? You know, do I flex to become more Australian when I'm talking to you? Or do you become more British?

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 28:11

That would be a bit strange if you became more Australian!

Vanessa Paisley 28:15

Exactly? How far can I go? You know, without losing my identity? I think that's also important. Yeah, that's

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 28:22

interesting. I think I think the important thing is, is that we need to open up that dialogue, as you say. And I think another one that I definitely see is the the feedback the ways that people give feedback. So for example, when I say to someone in France, what does good feedback look like? They'll say, when you tell them exactly what's wrong, you don't tell or you don't tell them if it's good, you only tell them if it's bad. And so for somebody like me, that's like, oh, you're really hurting my feelings. I'm used to getting a sandwich or, you know, a nice way of the bad feedback being wrapped in nice niceties. So, yeah, I think that those miscommunications are really important. One example that happened just the other day with my partner and I, we have some friends who, who said, one of them is Australian, and said, We invite you to come on holidays with us. My partner being from Portugal thinks that what that means is, I'm inviting you as in will pay for you. And so we had to have this really long conversation about no invite means invite, like, I'm asking you to come not I'm paying for you. So these these are so fascinating these miscommunications that can happen.

Vanessa Paisley 29:34

Yeah, that's really interesting, because that's the same in German. This I invite you means I pay. Yeah. And also in I think, when I teach German speakers English and I, if they want to get me a drink or something in the old days, when I was working in London, they say, Oh, can I invite you? And I'd actually say, Well, we'd probably say, you know, can I pay for your drink, but they think that's vulgar, to pay your way. Those words to pay for a drink. It sounds a bit vulgar. It doesn't sound like a nice invitation does. Yeah. So sometimes these kind of nuances you it's even though, you know, they know they should say pay for it still feels uncomfortable. So they use the word invite, which creates then the miscommunication in some situations. Yeah,

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 30:21

yeah. Well, that's another one. You could say it's on me. We say it's on. Yeah, a lot. Yeah.

Vanessa Paisley 30:26

Or I'll get these, you know, better. But that some of these things are a bit more complex to learn, aren't they? If you're not living in the country, I think because if you were living in the UK, you'd hear that a lot. But you're not going to hear it so much. If you're working. Internationally. Yeah. Yeah. And I think

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 30:44

that's what you know, what you were saying earlier about how it's important to teach people what they actually need. So not teaching them things, because they're written in a book.

Vanessa Paisley 30:53

Exactly. That's, yeah, no, I think we're on the same page there. Definitely.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 31:00

Speaking about all these things that you've learned, is it? Is there anything three things, what three things would you have you learned about communication through the work that you've done?

Vanessa Paisley 31:11

Yeah, okay. So I've learned a lot. I mean, one is like, listening will get you a long way. In communication, it's not all about speaking, right? This is the thing and then everyone goes on about how you should speak and formality informality. But actually, listening will get you a long way. And I work with a lot of Indians, and they're really good listeners, okay, because of the high context communication in India, you've got to learn to read between the lines, and it makes them more concentrated when it comes down to listening. Wow, that's an observation I've made, like more direct communicators. I'm not saying that everybody's listening this way are not used to listening as much. Yeah, they listen to respond not so much to really understand the situation because maybe they don't need to, because the meaning is in the words. Yeah. So I'd say listening is important.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 32:09

I was just gonna say a lot of people, as you were saying, they tend to listen, knowing what they want to say next. And so they're not listening. And, and that can you know, that anxiety, you can avoid that anxiety by trying to be a better listener, and trying to just listen to what people are saying, because your preconceived ideas may dissipate, and change the direction of the conversation, even the conversation that you and I are having, you know, I have in my mind what questions I want to ask, but I'm trying so hard to focus on what you're saying, because there are things that might lead the conversation in a different direction. And I think that's important. So thank you for sharing that as the first one.

Vanessa Paisley 32:53

Yeah, I think that's very true. And I think journalists they to have a set of questions, but they will also have sub questions, right. And they will be different versions of what will come out at the end. So I think that's good. The next one would be clarity. I'm a firm believer in being clear. And this is one thing where native speakers of English or can also improve their communication. So don't use too many acronyms that people don't understand. Don't use like sayings that are very antiquated. And I think there's a lot of this going on at the moment. And maybe it's just become more on my radar recently. There I go using a I don't understand

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 33:44

I was just going to say on my radar - what does that mean?

Vanessa Paisley 33:47

Because I think working with so many different cultures, I realise how many different words there are for things, right. So I think being clear, is clear. But polite. Yeah. Clear doesn't mean direct. Clear means just saying what you need. And giving sometimes context to things. So why if you say you need to do this, then tell somebody why they need to do it. Why? Because it might not be clear to somebody from another culture, why that's their job, or why should they do this? Yeah. So I think clarity and context would be another one.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 34:30

So with clarity, I guess something that I often talk about is like signposting, or saying for example, I'm going to talk about this. So you'd be very, you can be quite explicit with that works in an English speaking context, I guess. So saying what you're going to say and why like what you were saying, and maybe avoiding as you were saying, like very complex expressions. I heard one the other day which was like, I don't know if everyone knows what you're talking about. He said, I just knocked up something. And I'm going to send it out to the client. And I was thinking that this particular person actually has an international team. Does everyone know what knocked up means? They could think that that means that's a bad thing. So, yeah, you've got to kind of define what that means.

Vanessa Paisley 35:21

Yeah. And I think it takes, like people like you and me, obviously, native speakers, but we're so attuned to people not understanding everything to say stop. And also empowering people who were in these meetings, who was speaking a second English as a second language say, Sorry, I don't understand, you know, or, I mean, obviously, the 10th time, they say, I can't say it again. And I understand that, but at least by flagging or bringing it up regularly, people can say, oh, okay, I need to tone my English down and use more neutral language. Yeah. Yeah.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 36:00

Agree, great, great example.

Vanessa Paisley 36:03

Yeah. And just one other thing on that is, there's also like, presentation styles differ, don't they from culture to culture. And I try. So for example, when I work with Germans, we very, they have a lot of knowledge. This is again, many slides, lots of statistics data. And when I work with India, there's always these very big stories that are told at the beginning, like a hook that gets you interested. But that can last for 10 or 15 minutes. And then you get the point that's, you know, and the facts after that, which, you know, go with the story. But the trouble is, with those two styles, they can be quite conflicting, because some people don't get the story. And if you've not understood the story, you're not going to get the point. And the other way around, they're thinking, why am I Why is this person reading all these statistics? To me, I could just read that in a report. It's not a presentation. So you've got to find a sort of a good formula that works for everybody. I think, on the other hand, we don't want the world to become so boring that everybody uses the same presentation format, right? It's kind of good. Yeah, I think, you know, it's interesting, both ways. I find it fascinating. I love listening to different people's presentations, because I just think you always learn from it. But some I do notice that in business people, they're running, you know, under sort of pressure, and it's sometimes it's like, oh, no, please, can we just get to the point? Or, you know, yeah, I don't I think, you know, in an ideal scenario, we'd all have a lot more patience with all of this, wouldn't we? Oh, yeah, of course.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 37:48

I wish we I wish more people did have more patience. But okay, so that so we had, number one was listening, listening. Number two was clarity, clarity. And number three,

Vanessa Paisley 38:00

three was like, never assume anything. Okay, so don't assume that this person is from this country, and this is what's going to happen, or, you know, don't that you've got to be a bit more. You've got to be more flexible, when you're working internationally in communication and behaviour. But this don't assume anything, because you don't know, what's just happened in that person's life when you walk into the room. Yeah. So you've you've got that that applies to monocultural communication. Don't assume anything, you know, and I think, you know, and also assume probably more be more positive, like, Don't think that people are going to out to get you. Yeah, so don't assume anything.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 38:49

That's a great one. Love that. I think, yeah, you can apply that to any situation. Okay. So thank you for sharing those three. I think they they're three great examples. Okay. So in our discussions previously, we've talked about the tip, which is the international profiler. So can you explain what exactly is the tip?

Vanessa Paisley 39:07

Yeah, of course. So it's a psychometric tool made for people who want to develop their intercultural competencies. So it's not like other tools. in that, it's not a personality tool. So it doesn't say, you know, you're this type or that type. It's, it's all about developing competencies. So basically, there are 10 competencies in all the broken down into 22 sort of dimensions. And what they do is they it's like a questionnaire 80 questions, you get a feedback report, and then you get a coaching session with a certified coach who goes through these competencies and looks at basically where you scored highly and where you've got lower scores and helps people to Identify what kind of skills they need to improve. Okay. So I think when I did it, I was a bit shocked by some of the results, right? Because obviously, you can't score highly in everything, because you're measured against all the other people who've taken the test. And also, they are all people who are working internationally. So you're not being compared to somebody who doesn't have any international experience. But for example, my I scored quite low on resilience. And I was like, I thought was quite tough. You know, I've lived in all these different countries, and I've moved around. But then I thought, you know, seriously, I thought, yeah, maybe I, I don't bounce back as quickly as some other people do. And it's probably because I'm a bit of a sensitive person. And also, you know, the fact that I culture shock, cause was so bad for me means that I didn't really bounce back. So I and then then it makes me look at that. So I think how can I be more resilient? What can I what coping mechanism mechanisms can I find, to help me be less stressed when I'm working internationally, and I'm, it's been great because it's given me something to work on. flexibility. I mean, I'm so flexible, that that's, that's another sort of positive one. But you can also be too flexible, which means you lose focus. So what I like about it is, it's not right or wrong, it's not good or bad. It's just based on where you put your energy at the moment in the context you're working in.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 41:43

That's great. So it gives you real concrete examples. And things that you can do to improve the areas that really need that improving.

Vanessa Paisley 41:52

Yeah, and maybe, let's say you're moving to a more hierarchical culture, you know, and you're going to be managing a team. And you're very, sort of like flexible, and always building relationships, that's your natural habitat, maybe you're going to have to learn to be a bit more authoritarian in your approach. And it gives you something to work on, you know, and it doesn't mean you have to change your personality, it just means you have to be aware that if you're going to always be very soft with everyone, that maybe if you're working in a more hierarchical culture, not everyone's going to do what you want them to do. So you need to learn. And I think I found it really useful actually, also, as a trainer and a coach, because it's made made me identify some of the things I thought I was doing really well. But of course, I'm only human, and I have only have so much energy, I can't be perfect at anything, everything.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 42:51

I mean, no one's perfect, are they But yeah, I like what you're saying about how it identifies what you need for the context that you're going into. So there's, it also shows there's no wrong or right way to be. It's just, it has to you got to adapt to that situation. So it sounds like a very, very useful tool. And this is obviously something that you use with your clients a lot.

Vanessa Paisley 43:14

Yes, I do. And companies sometimes incorporated as part of their intercultural training, or if they're, you know, expert training, if they're sending people off somewhere, they include this as part of that, because it gives, you know, intercultural trainings really good because it looks at everything like how to communicate, how to build trust, how to, you know, how to build, develop your global mindset, these kind of things, or manage or negotiate. But these are sort of core skills that you as a person can use everywhere in your life. Yeah. And I think that you will develop so much when you work across cultures. And I think it's so important to then identify the skills you've gained in this time of doing it, and finding words to express these skills. You know, I think that's the interesting thing about it, too.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 44:12

I think that's great. And for me, definitely, as well, just thinking about what you're talking about, like being able to put words or values onto what you've benefited out of the experience. You know, it took me a while to be like, Okay, this is actually quite a good growing experience for me, even though I'm living out of my comfort zone, and I'm having to adapt and shift, then you're, you're being able to see kind of what's the advantage of what you're doing and how you can grow. So I think that's really great.

Vanessa Paisley 44:42

Yeah, no, and I'm sure you've become more flexible. You know, usually this is something you're forced to become more flexible, even if you're somebody who likes daily routines and these kinds of things because those are actually two behavioural competencies. Flexible behaviour and flexible judgement, you know, they're two different things, can you, you know, behave like, you know, be if you're going to a ball, can you dress up and look like, you know, Lady so and so. But that's behaviour, but judgement, you know, if you see someone and think, Oh, you know, don't think that person's, like, you know, I'm going to get on with this person can you then, you know, take the bias away and revisit that person with an open mindset. And these are things, I think when you're exposed to very many different people, you develop quicker.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 45:35

Yeah, that's great. And I imagine you can take a lot of these skills that you learn, say, if you're going for a job, for example, and say, you know, I'm very flexible, because I've been doing this and I've adapted to new culture, all those sorts of things. So talking about these competences. So I've asked you to pick five of the of the competences. So which ones have you picked to share with us today?

Vanessa Paisley 45:58

Um, well, because we've been mainly talking about communication, I thought I'd pick the five that are related or to communication. So the first one is active listening. This is an intercultural competence. You know, and I think we discussed that before. I think I think some people think they're good listeners, but they're not really and this often comes out in this analysis. Yeah, you know, I think it's something I've really improved my listening skills through being a trainer and coach, especially working one to one, you know, and I think, you know, I think it's something everybody can improve. So, active listening, clarity of communication, we also talked about that a little bit for before, but being clear, in what trying to get your message across. That's that's one. Exposing intentions. So giving more, yeah. So like, as I say, it's more about giving the why, as opposed to giving the walked, you know, so telling people why they have to do something, not presuming that they know from the onset. So if we talk about communication, okay, I want you to do this. Because ABC, you will get them to do it much easier than if you just tell them what they have to do. Yeah. Oh, I

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 47:20

love that. It's more proactive, or it allows empowers somebody to be more proactive?

Vanessa Paisley 47:25

Yeah. And I think intentions are not always clear when we work across cultures. Yeah, I think it's not always clear why. Because we don't understand the systems that are in place, or we don't understand the logic of how meetings work. Or, you know, I think that i think so much is assumed, and we don't really understand. So that's one learning languages.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 47:48

People are like,

Vanessa Paisley 47:51

that's not a competence. Yeah, it is. And sometimes people get irritated. If they school, they don't get a high score on this, right. And I didn't get a very high score the first time I did it, because although I speak German, and I speak a bit of French and a bit in Italian, I am not actively studying a language at the moment. Because I don't need to, for my job and where I'm living, right. But you would probably score high on that, because it's part of your life at the moment. And I think that's what's so fascinating.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 48:29

Yeah, right. That's so interesting. And obviously, I have to make it part of my everyday life, otherwise, I won't be able to survive. So you have to incorporate it into your life.

Vanessa Paisley 48:41

Yeah. So if you're putting a lot of energy into that at the moment, you're not going to have as much energy to put into other things, right. And I think this is reality of life. And of course, there are people who, and I think my mindset has changed on changed on this, because I always believed, if I learn a language, I've got to become fluent. No, you don't have to become fluent. You just need what you need that for. Yeah. And you can imagine ex-pats going from every two years from one, they can't become fluent in every language that in every country they live in, but they can learn a bit. I think sometimes people who speak five languages, so they earn enough money for the fact they speak five languages. Probably not right. And it should be a skill that's more valued, I think. Yeah, absolutely.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 49:30

I think if the amount of languages you knew correlated to how much he got paid, I would definitely have more motivation to learn more languages. Yeah, exactly.

Vanessa Paisley 49:41

Yeah. But I mean, and also not everybody's naturally good at languages. Well, I mean, this is another thing. I mean, I've I've taught like 22 year olds who can speak five languages, and you think how does that work even right? So it's having the opportunity, but it's also being talented.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 49:58

I think it also makes Are you curious as well, when you learning languages you're curious because you start to see the connections between other languages. And then it makes you more, your brain more flexible. And it just has so many other advantages than just the learning of the language. Yeah.

Vanessa Paisley 50:19

And I think curiosity is also a very big thing, isn't it? When you work across cultures? Are you going to be curious and find out? Or are you just going to stay in your bubble? And not explore anything? Sure, yeah. And the last one was range of styles. So you can't just have one style of communication and say, Well, I'm British. So I communicate like this, you've got to look at yourself. I think we've talked about Erin Meyer before. On hers, she has these continuums, doesn't she? She's got direct and indirect or low context, high context, where are you on that scale, you can make your own scale, and I need to be able to move a bit in each direction to depending on who I'm talking to.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 51:05

For sure. And I think that's important, I always get my students, my clients to map themselves personally, against their cultural tendency, so that they can see this is where they are, this is where the cultural tendency is, like the overall tendency. And and then they can see also, they're living in a different culture, where's the gap? And sort of where can they meet in the middle? Because you don't, as you were saying, you don't want to lose who you are. But you also need to know how you can make the communication effective. where you are. So it's, it's that sort of adapting all the time, isn't it?

Vanessa Paisley 51:42

Yeah, exactly. It's like the, you know, being flexing, how far can you flex along the scale? And how far do you feel comfortable with? And I think it's, obviously, some people don't do it, and they can't. And you know, that some things are harder to adapt to, than others. But the more you can move, I think, you speed up processes. And I think in business, that's what people are aiming for. For sure.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 52:10

Have you read Erin Meyers? second book with the CEO from Netflix? Oh, no, I haven't touched very interesting. It's called no rules, rules. And they talk a lot about what you're talking about how Netflix has created a kind of culture, which is probably more suited for the US, because of the tendencies. So then when they try to export the same kind of culture to Japan, it doesn't necessarily work. So you've got to adapt and sort of know how that works together. So definitely recommended reading. Sounds good. I look forward to that one. Yeah. Okay. So we've gone through the five, can you just remind me what they are again?

Vanessa Paisley 52:50

Okay. So we've got active listening, clarity of communication, exposing intentions, learning languages, and range of styles.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 53:01

Great. So they're fantastic tips, fantastic examples. So I just I'm interested to know if say somebody wants to do a coaching session with you to find out where they sit, or what what are their tendencies on the on this on the TIP? Where can they find you to find out more about it?

Vanessa Paisley 53:21

Yeah. Okay. So I'm either on LinkedIn, Vanessa Paisley, Instagram, Paisley communication, and my website is So right, get in touch with me there. And I'd love to hear from you.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 53:39

Yeah, well, I feel like I want to do one now. So just to clarify to when you do it with them, you do all of them, not just those five?

Vanessa Paisley 53:48

No, yeah, you get a report that based on all of these, and then you 22 competencies, and some of them look more at like your communication, others look more at like your management style. And others are about like your behaviour, sort of, you know, and how you develop resilience, resilience, it's, they're very different. But I think they apply, they can be applied to communication in general, too. So it's a transferable skill. I always say that it's not just about your intercultural behaviour, makes you more aware of how you behave within any cultures, really. And that's what I think so good about it.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 54:32

So I think we've come to the end of the conversation. I've had such a fantastic conversation with you. I think we could talk about this all day, every day. But I'm interested to know what are some things are one thing that you would like people to take away from this conversation?

Vanessa Paisley 54:51

Yeah, so I think you know that working across cultures is just such a great thing. Because it's almost magical, right? Because if you can get all these differences and create some synergy out of all the differences in the room, and I think people can get that I think creativity is so wonderful from working with this diversity. But I think regarding English and communication is that, you know, it's really good if you speak professionally if you can speak good English, but you can't be a good communicator if you don't have the intercultural skills if you're working internationally. So let's say you, you think your English has reached a level, you can't really take any further concentrate on how you communicate. Because I think, you know, you can be an average student in a language. But if you've got good relationship-building skills, you're going to be you're going to be more successful than the person who's got the C two in English. So I think it's about you can't separate those two things. It's moving forward with what you've got English wise, and some building some communication skills.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 56:08

Love it, that's a great leaving, leaving wisdom for everyone. I think it's so interesting and so great that people can see that actually, what it is, is what they've got is good enough, and that they can work on, you know, building upon that. So thank you very much, Vanessa,

Vanessa Paisley 56:27

Thank you so much for having me, Tara. It's been a lovely afternoon.

Tara Cull - ArchiEnglish 56:31

Thanks, again to Vanessa, for the fantastic conversation. I hope you got as much out of it as I did. There were definitely three things that I took away from the conversation. Firstly, I think it's important to reflect on the positives, that living and working in a different culture can bring to your life, you can certainly grow a lot. The second one was being more aware of different presentation styles. Often I think, many people think there's only one or the best or the ultimate way to do something. But in a global world where we work across cultures in more increasingly diverse teams, I think it's important to be more aware of the ways that different cultures do things and how we can be more open to that. Lastly, I think expressing intentions, this is a great one, especially if you're working as a leader or a team leader, telling people why you want them to do something and not just what that was really powerful. I think I'm definitely going to bring that into my teaching as well. So if you haven't already listened to number four, you can find this episode where I discuss vocabulary we used in the episode and more effective ways to learn expressions and phrasal verbs. If you found this episode with Vanessa useful, then please share it with somebody who you think will benefit from this conversation. I'm your host, Tara Cull, and I look forward to sharing my next conversation with you very soon.

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