Melissa Hahn – There are no wasted experiences.

Melissa Hahn
Explore the journey of fostering effective intercultural relations with intercultural professional Melissa Hahn, emphasizing building genuine relationships over cultural differences. Learn valuable lessons on adaptability, personal growth, and embracing cultural identities. Delve into the significance of self-care and the art of maintaining authenticity in various cultural contexts. Hosted by Siebe Van Der Zee

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About Melissa Hahn

Melissa Hahn is an intercultural professional who helps people collaborate, adapt and thrive across cultures. She earned a master’s degree in intercultural relations from the University of the Pacific in California, has lived abroad in Poland, and has an extensive professional background that spans international relations, teaching English to speakers of other languages, and global mobility/corporate relocation.
She works independently as a trainer, coach and consultant; teaches intercultural communication at American University; and is on the leadership team of the Global Dexterity Certification.
She believes that intercultural skills are for everyone, because we all come from cultures and need to figure out how to live, work, and connect with people who have different backgrounds and life experiences from us. Through her children’s book “Luminarias Light the Way” and her upcoming book “Forging Bonds in a Global Workforce” (McGraw Hill), she aims to show how practical, do-able, and even fun this process can be for people of all ages.

Episode Notes

Lesson 1: Cultural competence isn’t memorizing details about another culture. It’s building relationships with individuals from those cultures. 09:21
Lesson 2: You’re not getting a cultural report card. 11:38
Lesson 3: Don’t judge cultural experiences by whether you like them. Judge them by whether they make you grow. 16:11
Lesson 4: There are no wasted experiences. 20:42
Lesson 5: Think about the messages you are sending, and whether they facilitate trust. 25:08
Lesson 6: Let yourself be ambivalent. 28:06
Lesson 7: Let your light shine – and help others shine their light, too. 32:01
Lesson 8: Prioritize taking care of yourself. 35:16
Lesson 9: When networking, think about making connections with people, not just obtaining business cards or sharing digital details. 39:05
Lesson 10: It is truly a small world, so guard your reputation and close doors gently, rather than burning bridges. 42:28

Melissa Hahn – There are no wasted experiences.

[00:00:08] Siebe Van Der Zee: Hello, and welcome to our program, 10 Lessons Learned, where we talk to interesting people from all over the world about their interesting experiences and the lessons they have learned. My name is Siebe Van Der Zee, and I’m your host. I’m based in Phoenix, Arizona, in the beautiful Grand Canyon State, where I’m also known as the Dutchman in the desert.
[00:00:30] Siebe Van Der Zee: Our guest today is Melissa Hahn. Melissa is an author and an intercultural professional who helps people collaborate, adapt, and thrive across cultures. She works independently as a trainer, coach, and as a consultant. She teaches intercultural communication at American University, and she is on the leadership team of the Global Dexterity Certification.
[00:00:52] Siebe Van Der Zee: Melissa earned a master’s degree in intercultural relations from the University of the Pacific in California. She has lived abroad in Poland, and she has extensive professional background that spans international relations, teaching English as a second language, and in global mobility and corporate relocation.
[00:01:10] Siebe Van Der Zee: Melissa believes that Intercultural skills are for everyone because we all come from different cultures and we all need to figure out how to live, work, and connect with people who have different backgrounds and life experiences from ours. Both, through her children’s book named Luminarias Light the Way, I love the title, and her brand-new book, Luminarias Light the Way, Forging Bonds in a Global Workforce, published by McGraw Hill.
[00:01:37] Siebe Van Der Zee: Melissa aims to show how practical, doable, and fun this process of learning intercultural skills can be for all people at all ages. You can learn more about Melissa Hahn on our website 10lessonslearned. com.
[00:01:52] Siebe Van Der Zee: Hello, Melissa. Thank you so much for joining us.
[00:01:56] Melissa Hahn: Hi, Siebe. It’s great to be here.
[00:01:57] Siebe Van Der Zee: I appreciate it.
[00:01:58] Siebe Van Der Zee: And, you have such a fascinating international global background, but maybe to start, where is your passion for intercultural relations coming from?
[00:02:09] Melissa Hahn: This is a really good question, and I don’t know if I can pinpoint the precise origin, but I think there are two components. One is that, as I grew up in Arizona, where you are currently located, and it felt a little bit removed.
[00:02:23] Melissa Hahn: from some of the world history and some of the cultures that I was really curious about. So, I just always wanted to get out there. I wanted to see the world and I wanted to connect with the world. And the more I had those experiences, the more excited I was and the more I wanted to help other people.
[00:02:38] Melissa Hahn: But at the same time, as I had those experiences, I realized that I hadn’t come from nowhere. I’d come from what was actually a very interesting place. And that in fact, there were many cultures. in my home state of Arizona that I had grown up around that were not familiar to other people.
[00:02:55] Melissa Hahn: And so, I started to have a renewed appreciation for the diversity and really the vibrant cultural environment that I was familiar with from my childhood. And so, there was this reciprocal process where I wanted to see the world away from home. And as I did that, I became interested in the world I had come from.
[00:03:13] Melissa Hahn: And I started, acting like a bridge. And the more that I did that, the more I enjoyed it, the more I wanted to help other people do that. it just started perpetuating itself, of its own accord.
[00:03:23] Siebe Van Der Zee: Wow.
[00:03:23] Siebe Van Der Zee: it all, let’s say, led to your brand-new book, Forging Bonds in a Global Workforce. Tell us a little bit more about this book.
[00:03:32] Siebe Van Der Zee: It’s brand new and I’m very curious to read it.
[00:03:36] Melissa Hahn: Oh, thank you, Siebe. It is brand new. Forging Bonds in a Global Workforce is co-authored by Andy Molinsky and published by McGraw Hill, and we are trying to offer a new approach to crossing cultures. Now, people who are interested in global work and intercultural relations might be familiar with some of the books that are already out there, what we’re wanting to do is build on.
[00:03:58] Melissa Hahn: what they’ve already accomplished. we’re at a point, Andy and I think, where we’re not really needing so much to identify all the ways that we’re different. Of course, differences are interesting and they’re a source of appreciation for where the other person comes from. But the real challenge, we think, in this era of virtual work and increased loneliness and political fragmentation, all these things that are pulling us apart, We think it’s time to really focus on building actual relationships with real people, rather than just trying to enumerate all of the abstract academic complexities.
[00:04:33] Melissa Hahn: that’s what our book tries to do. We try to package our advice and our frameworks and our insights in the form of Easy-to-use approaches and tips and real-world stories so that people have a starting place. We think a lot of people could be a lot better at crossing cultures if they just had somebody show them how, and that’s what we’re trying to do.
[00:04:53] Siebe Van Der Zee: Does it go beyond the basic, do’s and don’ts?
[00:04:57] Melissa Hahn: Oh, definitely. the lists of dos and don’ts are very popular on social media. If you’ve ever looked up a quick list before you go somewhere, you know how they can be helpful. But unfortunately, the chances are good that you’re going to meet somebody who doesn’t exactly fit that list.
[00:05:13] Melissa Hahn: what we want to do is offer strategies and methods and approaches for how you can get the lay of the land. When you first meet another person, and that you don’t have to rely on memorizing those lists of do’s and don’ts, because you have strategies and things you yourself can try in the moment.
[00:05:30] Melissa Hahn: Whether that person from the other culture meets your expectations about their culture or not, because you really never know how somebody is going to be when you meet them for the first time.
[00:05:39] Siebe Van Der Zee: It happens, that we stereotype other cultures, other countries and we say, well, the Japanese are like this, the Germans are like that, the Brazilians, etc.
[00:05:50] Siebe Van Der Zee: But when you meet individuals from those countries, they don’t necessarily fit that very generic type of framework, right? Each individual can be different from the national culture.
[00:06:04] Melissa Hahn: Definitely, and you know, I think that’s especially true in global work and in an era where so many people are studying abroad, or they might have relatives in multiple countries, and so you never really know what their own cultural inspiration points are going to be.
[00:06:20] Melissa Hahn: And so, one of the things we try to help people do in the book is to go beyond stereotyping and try out something we call prototyping, where it still helps to have a guess. you don’t want to just assume every person is going to be so different that they’re unknowable, because that will be overwhelming too, but if you can have a guess, that’s okay, what you want to do is test that guess when you meet a person for the first time and see if they actually are what you expected, and if not, you want to try to adjust and get to know the real version of them, rather than trying to squish them into the stereotype that you’re bringing to the table.
[00:06:54] Siebe Van Der Zee: Great point. I look forward to your 10 lessons, but before we get there, let me ask you another question. are there any lessons in your life, in your career that you have learned that you wish you would have known when you were much younger?
[00:07:10] Melissa Hahn: One that comes to mind and I say this to my students as well, when I work with graduate students at the university, I really wish I had just let people know that I wanted their advice, and that I could use their help. I think, especially as a young professional, I think people feel this way today.
[00:07:28] Melissa Hahn: There’s a lot of pressure to show that you are really well organized and you’re completely on track and you are competent, and you’ve got it all together. And those are really important signals if you want people to take you seriously. But sometimes I think we can be so focused on showing other people that we are completely self-contained, and we’ve got it all together, that we don’t actually create a space.
[00:07:49] Melissa Hahn: for them to share their insights and advice with us, and I think if I had just opened the door a little crack and let people help me, I probably would have had an easier time, and I also might have then opened the door to other opportunities because they would have known that I was ready and wanting that support, rather than trying to just show them I had everything, down perfectly.
[00:08:10] Siebe Van Der Zee: it is so powerful to have a mentor, to have someone that, has your interest in mind. And at the same time, I don’t know if that makes any sense, but the younger we are as people, the smarter we are. when I was 19, 20 years old, I was much smarter than when I was today. So, I don’t need someone to tell me what to do.
[00:08:29] Siebe Van Der Zee: You know what I mean? Right.
[00:08:31] Melissa Hahn: Oh, definitely.
[00:08:32] Siebe Van Der Zee: For many people, that’s something that we experience. But then, like you say, you come to the point where you say, wow, I, I wish I would have had someone, or I wish I would have listened to the people that were out there and, were willing to help you.
[00:08:47] Siebe Van Der Zee: But again, like in my case, I was much smarter than they were. Not really.
[00:08:53] Melissa Hahn: I think that’s a starting place for this book as well, Siebe, is that we want to give people permission to not have all the answers. Because, if you think you have to have all the answers, it’s very hard to get started.
[00:09:04] Melissa Hahn: you can search for answers and try to prepare forever. But oftentimes our work is happening now, and we want to help people. Accept the fact at some level, they can’t fundamentally know everything there is to know about the other culture. We have to try to somehow be in a position where we can ask for help.

[00:09:21] Lesson 1: Cultural Competence isn’t Memorizing Details about another Culture.

[00:09:21] Siebe Van Der Zee: Absolutely. Well, let’s take a look at your 10 lessons. Lesson number one, cultural competence isn’t memorizing details about another culture. It’s building relationships with individuals from those cultures. What are your thoughts on that?
[00:09:38] Melissa Hahn: One of the best things that one of my professors and my mentors ever said to me was that there’s a huge difference between learning about culture and actually doing culture.
[00:09:48] Melissa Hahn: And that, if you are studying about culture, you’re acquiring knowledge. for your brain. That’s really powerful. It’s great to have this information about other cultures because that alone can help us shift our perspective. But if you think about things too much and you don’t get around to actually engaging, you don’t have a chance to really test that knowledge.
[00:10:09] Melissa Hahn: when we’re talking about cultures, the real kind of proof is whether you can engage with another human being. I think that a lot of our trainings that we see, a lot of the material that’s out there is really trying to prepare people for the moment of encounter.
[00:10:25] Melissa Hahn: But what I want to encourage people to do is to have that moment of encounter, because until you actually interact, until you actually try to do something, whether it’s baking a cake or riding a bike, you can’t actually have the learning that you’re waiting for. So, I think the real power is in having that moment of connection.
[00:10:43] Melissa Hahn: Then you can learn something. Then you can move forward together.
[00:10:47] Siebe Van Der Zee: It’s a great point. And it makes me think about, how people travel to certain countries, maybe to go on vacation or for a short trip to attend a conference. That doesn’t mean that they have enough time. to really learn the culture.
[00:11:01] Siebe Van Der Zee: And they may have been to that particular country or city a number of times and say, oh yeah, I’ve been there. I’ve been to Rome a number of times. Well, does that mean you understand the Italian culture? in my experience, no, because back to your point, it takes time to build those relationships. I think there is a difference people who have lived and worked.
[00:11:22] Siebe Van Der Zee: in a country other than theirs, let’s say, native country, compared to people who have gone on a vacation to a country, right? I think that’s what you’re talking about as well, to have that time to learn and
[00:11:34] Siebe Van Der Zee: experience.
[00:11:34] Melissa Hahn: Yeah, there’s the time and there’s the commitment, but there’s also the intuition that you develop.

[00:11:38] Lesson 2: You’re Not Getting a Cultural Report Card

[00:11:38] Siebe Van Der Zee: we will continue with lesson number two; you’re not getting a cultural report card. What are your thoughts on that?
[00:11:46] Melissa Hahn: Well, this ties in with lesson number one, I think oftentimes when we see a cultural training or the way somebody is approaching their culture crossing experience, the reason they’re trying to learn all this information and have all of the do’s and don’ts is that they’re trying to avoid mistakes.
[00:12:02] Melissa Hahn: And they’re trying to avoid mistakes because they want to make a good impression on the other party. But in lesson number two, I want to share that we’re actually not being graded. when we’re interacting with another person, we are getting to know that person. We’re not just performing their culture in a kind of abstract decontextualized way.
[00:12:22] Melissa Hahn: We’re often working on a project where we have specific goals, and what we need to do is focus less on, am I doing the other culture right? And we need to focus on, how can I use my cultural knowledge to navigate the situation so that I can work with this particular person in this particular time and place, on these particular goals.
[00:12:44] Melissa Hahn: if you think about how there’s a reason for you being in the situation, there’s also a reason for that other person being in that situation. if they are totally focused on just performing your culture, it’s going to get in the way, of what you’re trying to accomplish together. So, I think about it less as I’m being evaluated and more about, we are engaged in this moment together and how can we actually make the most.
[00:13:08] Melissa Hahn: of this moment. How can we do this together? It’s something you’re co creating in real time as opposed to something you’re just performing.
[00:13:16] Siebe Van Der Zee: Now, not to disagree, but if I think about companies that are operating in multiple countries and they have a certain way of managing their people, their teams, and they Go to another country and they say, well, this is how we do it in our country, whichever our country is, but let’s say United States and in your country, whatever that country is, but let’s say Japan.
[00:13:41] Siebe Van Der Zee: we want you to do the way we do it. And there are some resistances and perhaps people say, well, that person from the other country doesn’t understand how we do things in our country. so, in that sense, is there perhaps a report card to say, well, those people don’t know about our
[00:14:00] Siebe Van Der Zee: culture?
[00:14:01] Melissa Hahn: I do think that you have to demonstrate an effort to meet the other culture where it is, but sometimes we get focused on this idea that we are just being evaluated on our cultural skill and that’s it. I think that the cultural skills are tools that we can use for what really matters, which is, in the case of your example, managing the other party. If I were to go to Japan, and everybody else was Japanese, and I was in a traditional Japanese company, then I would have to adapt much more than if I was working on, say, a startup, and one of the employees on the startup happened to be Japanese, and they were younger than me, and they had grown up, living all over the world.
[00:14:44] Melissa Hahn: So, the degree to which I would need to adapt specifically to their culture, would shift. what we don’t want to do is think that purely acting as if we’re more local than the locals is the goal. You want to try to demonstrate an appreciation for the local culture while somehow figuring out what it is you’re supposed to do there.
[00:15:07] Melissa Hahn: I would not go in and say, I don’t have to adapt because I’m not going to perform your culture. But what I also wouldn’t do is set this sort of perfectionistic mindset bar so high that I get overwhelmed before I can even begin. in the case of your example, I would probably look for somebody that could serve as a cultural mentor.
[00:15:27] Melissa Hahn: And I would say, I really want to be successful in this situation. What are two or three things I should know? And then I would focus on those, rather than just trying to ace the culture as a whole, because that’s too much for most people to try to take on. It’s too much information to keep track of.
[00:15:45] Siebe Van Der Zee: That’s a great lesson for people to learn and, implement, because you cannot pretend you’re an expert on a country that you don’t really know well, and to find someone from that country who can guide you, who can understand, and perhaps someone who understands both, of course, their own culture, but then also the culture where, let’s say, the other person, is coming from, to understand those challenges.
[00:16:08] Siebe Van Der Zee: I think that’s extremely helpful.

[00:16:11] Lesson 3: Judge Cultural Lessons by Whether They Make You Grow

[00:16:11] Siebe Van Der Zee: moving along, lesson number three, don’t judge cultural experiences by whether you like them, judge them by whether they make you grow. sounds great.
[00:16:21] Melissa Hahn: you’re probably seeing a pattern now with me, Siebe, that I’m really interested in the way that we approach culture in our own minds, because our cultural crossing experiences are not just going to succeed or fail based on how we behave.
[00:16:37] Melissa Hahn: It also has to do with how we think about them. So, one of the reasons in the previous example that I don’t want to be too Perfectionistic is that it can prevent us from doing what I propose in this lesson, which is to have a growth mindset. but we also don’t want to get fixated on whether we like something.
[00:16:54] Melissa Hahn: I remember when I went to Poland, it was difficult from the moment my husband and I stepped off the train. The train was several hours late, it arrived in the middle of the night, it was raining, this was before smartphones. We had no way to figure out where we were going. We had no way to get money for the taxi because the ATMs, in that area weren’t available.
[00:17:15] Melissa Hahn: And from the very moment we arrived, it felt hard. this sort of overwhelming joy was not our emotional experience. we felt the culture shock immediately. And if we had decided that. We had to like it. Otherwise, it was a failure. We would have been really frustrated. So, we decided to reframe our goal.
[00:17:35] Melissa Hahn: Rather than saying, do we like it? Is it a good place? We said, what can we learn from it? Why are we here? We were there for a reason. I was pursuing my master’s degree. We said, what can we learn? What can we see? What can we experience? What can we go explore that we’ve never heard of before? We’ve never done before.
[00:17:52] Melissa Hahn: What can we do? Or we’ve never, we never could do at home in Phoenix. And so, we set this kind of scavenger hunt. goal for ourselves. We wanted to be as curious as possible. And I think when you’re curious, the world opens up to you. There are all kinds of possibilities because now you’re receptive to information.
[00:18:10] Melissa Hahn: That’s going to be a lot more productive than just trying to grin and bear it and make yourself like something that maybe you’re not in a place that you can like yet. And the interesting thing was the more that we did, the more we actually did like it. So, when liking it wasn’t this all-consuming goal, it actually just appeared on its own because now we had found lots of our own avenues to feeling more comfortable and more at home in our new environment.
[00:18:35] Siebe Van Der Zee: you’re making some great points and I can see that for so many people interacting in a culture, in a country different than their own, that I think it’s part of human nature that we are very quick to put labels and say, oh, I don’t like that. And I don’t, but if you, open your mind and say, well, let me find out, let me learn.
[00:18:55] Siebe Van Der Zee: and, I mean, I can think of many experiences in my life as well. Well, that’s so different. I don’t think I like it. But then when you think about it, my, my example is when I lived in South America and, it, it was standard for restaurants to open not before nine, 9 o’clock in the evening. Well around six, seven o’clock I get a little hungry.
[00:19:17] Siebe Van Der Zee: But as I told myself, I cannot change this country. And then I realized that after dinner, the people in that country, Uruguay, they go out in the streets, they socialize. And yes, they take a siesta, which I didn’t. But, what a wonderful way to interact. And when I look back, I would say, wow, I wish everybody would live life like that.
[00:19:40] Siebe Van Der Zee: And so indeed you learn from it. And as you say, you grow from it because it’s a different experience than the way you were raised, and you grew up in your own country and culture. But. With those experiences, it’s like, wow, it broadens your horizon.
[00:19:57] Melissa Hahn: And the more you do it, the more you’re prepared to do it the next time.
[00:20:00] Melissa Hahn: So Siebe, you were in Uruguay, you had this experience. Now you can use those same culture crossing curiosity muscles in your time in Arizona. It was the same for me. The more you allow yourself to be curious, I think the more prepared to be curious you are in the next environment that you find yourself in.
[00:20:17] Siebe Van Der Zee: yeah. Well, you mentioned earlier the term culture shock, and that’s like, oh my gosh, this is so different from what I was used to in my own country, but to overcome culture shock and to have an open mind and say, Hey, like you said with your husband, how can I learn from this? And how can we, obviously you were there for a purpose, but how can we gain more experience in that, in that particular country and culture?

[00:20:42] Lesson 4: There are NO Wasted Experiences

[00:20:42] Siebe Van Der Zee: yeah, makes a good sense. lesson number four. Oh, I like this one. There are no wasted experiences. believe me, no wasted experiences. I’m sure you have a good thought behind that.
[00:20:56] Melissa Hahn: Okay, so this idea that there are no wasted experiences is rooted in my early adulthood, my first professional years, but it also is something that I have only fully appreciated more recently. And when I graduated from college, it was the aftermath of September 11th and the dot com bust, and there wasn’t a huge demand for people who had studied Russian and Central and Eastern Europe.
[00:21:24] Melissa Hahn: And I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to do, but in the meantime, I had to have a job. And there was an opening in the summer at the YMCA to be a swimming instructor and a swim coach. And I had swum for a long time competitively, and I thought, okay, I guess I’ll do this for the time being. Well, what was really interesting is that experience, teaching people how to swim, which either meant getting Keeping the attention of five year olds, which was a group that I coached, or helping people let go of their fears and really step into the pool for the first time in their lives.
[00:21:56] Melissa Hahn: All of those things are really similar to what it’s like to help people as a cross cultural trainer and coach. I really got a sense for how important it was to meet people where they were. And to really listen to them and their needs and their fears and their sources of motivation, I had a sense for how I could give feedback more effectively, you have to communicate in a certain way if you’re going to try to help somebody understand how they should move their body in the water.
[00:22:24] Melissa Hahn: And it’s the same for crossing cultures. I also had to figure out how I could be patient with their own progress. sometimes we want, as cultural trainers, we want people to make progress now. And it’s the same thing with swimming, but I had to let it play out. And another thing I had to learn was how to scaffold my instruction, which piece of information should come first, and then how can I help them build on that?
[00:22:46] Melissa Hahn: at the time when I was doing this, I was really disappointed. I couldn’t believe I had graduated, and I had this degree, and I was just in this pool with a bunch of kids. But really what I was doing was laying the foundation for the work that I am doing today. And I never would have predicted that, more than 20 years ago.
[00:23:04] Melissa Hahn: But now that I see that I want to share that with other people, because I think we all end up in moments. that we didn’t expect to be in. And if we can pull something from that experience, whether it’s an expat experience or a job that maybe wasn’t quite the right fit, if we can see the value in that and we can bring the value into our future chapters, then really it wasn’t a waste or even a disappointment.
[00:23:25] Melissa Hahn: It was something that really can add a lot to the overall quality of our life.
[00:23:30] Siebe Van Der Zee: Do you see yourself as a, as an optimist, no matter what?
[00:23:34] Melissa Hahn: it’s interesting. I don’t feel particularly. optimistic. something I picked up from living in Poland and Central and Eastern Europe is a scepticism about being overly sunny and optimistic.
[00:23:47] Melissa Hahn: That’s a very American kind of cultural value. And I feel that after living in Poland, I feel a bit, more sceptical about that, but it, there’s a, it’s more of a certainty and a resolve that even it’s not that I feel optimistic that things will always work out. It’s that I think they won’t work out.
[00:24:06] Melissa Hahn: And we can get through them anyway. So, it’s a realistic, it’s not negative, but it’s, I don’t think it’s quite optimism either.
[00:24:13] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah, there, I had to think of a, a quote by a famous Dutch soccer player many years ago. And, well, in English it, it says every disadvantage has an advantage.
[00:24:26] Siebe Van Der Zee: And again, as a soccer player, that means you’re losing the game or you didn’t score the goal, but there is something positive about that. and I understand that’s why I asked, you don’t have to be an eternal optimist. You have to be a realist perhaps. And like you said, other countries are in that sense, maybe less excited than people in the United States.
[00:24:47] Siebe Van Der Zee: Even the word excited seems to fit in the U S but it is okay. let’s look at the positives and yes, you’re dealing with negatives, but you will get over it. you will move on. and I think that’s, that’s, I like what you’re saying as far as there are no wasted experiences. you’ll learn no matter what, and, sometimes it’s tough, but the experience could be worthwhile.

[00:25:08] Lesson 5: Think about the Messages You Are Sending and Whether They Facilitate Trust

[00:25:08] Siebe Van Der Zee: All right. Yeah. Well, let’s take a look at lesson number five. Think about the messages that you are sending and whether they facilitate trust. Now, trust is a key element in building relationships, right?
[00:25:22] Melissa Hahn: It is. And, research has, researchers have found that the kind of constant elements that we’re looking for when we meet a new person or getting to know them are two factors.
[00:25:33] Melissa Hahn: One is this person likable? Do I want to spend time around them? And the other is competence, are they good at what they do? Now the difficulty is that when we’re crossing cultures, the way that we signal these things and the way that we interpret those signals can be really different. So, what I might signal to an American about I’m a nice person, and I’m going to be good to work with might be different than how they would go through that process in Germany or in China.
[00:26:01] Melissa Hahn: But I think that Even if we don’t know exactly how we can send those signals and how the other person’s going to receive them, if we’re attuned to the fact that we are in fact sending these signals and that this is part of the relationship building, we’re already going to have a head start. Also, this is a reminder that, in the previous lessons I talked about how you’re not just memorizing cultural information and then showing everybody that you know it.
[00:26:27] Melissa Hahn: This is really where I think Yeah, it’s more important to interact with other people. I can show you that I want to have this relationship with you, and I want to work well with you, without necessarily knowing the entire history of the Netherlands, right? I can just try to send my own signals, and I can try to be mindful of the fact that you could be trying as well, and maybe if I’m not sure exactly where things are going, if we’re establishing a rapport, if my joke landed well, I can remember, oh, well, Siebe comes from a different culture, maybe.
[00:26:57] Melissa Hahn: Maybe his signals are different, but if we can return to this idea that we’re constantly either cultivating or undermining this fledgling relationship, we can try to get ourselves on the right track, look at the signals we’re receiving in return, and try to make modifications. It’s not a formula that we can follow, but it’s something to be aware of so that we can constantly try to be getting closer to the best chance possible that we have in working well with that person.

[00:27:26] Affiliate Break

[00:27:26] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah, I like it. thank you for sharing that. we’re talking today with Melissa Hahn, sharing her 10 Lessons Learned. Melissa is a successful author and intercultural professional helping people collaborate, adapt, and thrive across cultures. I want to thank our affiliate partner, Audible. Audible is an amazing way to experience our program, 10 Lessons Learned, but also books and other podcasts, allowing you to build a library of knowledge for your All-in-one place, you can start your free 30-day trial by going to audibletrial.com/10lessonslearned. Again, that’s audibletrial.com/10lessonslearned. all lowercase to get your free 30-day subscription.

[00:28:09] Lesson 6: Let Yourself Be Ambivalent

[00:28:09] Siebe Van Der Zee: Moving along, lesson number six, let yourself be ambivalent. I’m curious what you mean with that. That’s being ambivalent, right?
[00:28:19] Melissa Hahn: Yes. So, in the U S we often value things like being decisive, taking action, having clear cut goals that we set and then going out and achieving them.
[00:28:29] Melissa Hahn: And that helps us accomplish a lot. It gives our life some clarity. The trouble is that especially if we are going through a transition or we are in a new culture, we often just may not have that sense of exactly where we’re even trying to go, let alone how we should try to get there.
[00:28:47] Melissa Hahn: And I think sometimes when I work with my coaching clients, I see that they really are uncomfortable. in that in between space, which is, which makes sense. if you’re neither here nor there, where are you? but sometimes by trying to prematurely just hurry up and get to our destination, we miss out on the opportunity to ask ourselves important questions.
[00:29:08] Melissa Hahn: And we also miss out on the opportunity to get a sense for what our options really are. So, when I work with, I try to encourage them to not see this in between stage. as a problem to be solved, but rather as a natural part of their own journey and their own adaptation process that, of course, they don’t want to stay in that forever.
[00:29:32] Melissa Hahn: But allowing themselves to press pause and saying, I’m not sure what I think about this yet. I think I need more information. I think I need to go and do some experimenting. I think I need to do, any number of things before I can actually get through this, can give themselves the space that they need.
[00:29:49] Melissa Hahn: to really work through it productively instead of rushing and possibly missing out on whatever it was that they could have learned.
[00:29:57] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah, no, good points. And, I was thinking while you were talking about, in so many countries, I want to say every country, but in so many countries, politics, is an element that they talk about, and we don’t have to talk about politics, believe me, that’s not the purpose, but it does seem to affect people in different countries, and if a person comes in from a foreign country, Well, does he or she understand what we are dealing with in our country, with our issues, et cetera.
[00:30:30] Siebe Van Der Zee: And again, this happens all over the world, but that’s an element that I think can be confusing as well, because it’s one thing to learn about cultures and behaviors, but then there are other elements in there. and again, especially during an election year, politics, obviously anywhere in any country are very important.
[00:30:48] Melissa Hahn: You know, maybe we could even say that being ambivalent is a good thing to be able to do in relationships. And I know that sounds surprising to people. Why would you want to be ambivalent in a relationship? But when you’re meeting people, you don’t know all their opinions yet or everything that, their whole life story.
[00:31:03] Melissa Hahn: So, the first thing you hear might not be the best indication of who that person really is. And just suspending our need to categorize them as in or out, of our life, I think, can be helpful. We can just let things play out instead of needing to take immediate action.
[00:31:17] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah. If you have, let’s say, the time for it in a conversation with people, of course, it works typically well to say, Melissa, tell me how you’re doing and what’s going on in your life, et cetera.
[00:31:30] Siebe Van Der Zee: But many times, it’s like, well, I’m calling you for a certain reason, or are we meeting for a certain purpose? And we don’t hear the other story that Perhaps keeps that person very busy in his or her mind, so there’s more to it.

Lesson 7: Let your light shine – and help others shine their light, too. 32:01

[00:31:43] Siebe Van Der Zee: I like the title for lesson number seven. Lesson number seven, let your light shine and help others shine their light.

[00:31:52] Siebe Van Der Zee: That sounds really good, Melissa, I like what you’re saying there, but what are your thoughts behind it?
[00:31:57] Melissa Hahn: So my thoughts behind it come from my work, of course, Crossing Cultures, and there is a, I think a misconception that if we are going to work across cultures, we have to hide who we are, that in order for me to work successfully with you, I should mask everything American.
[00:32:16] Melissa Hahn: about me because you won’t like that because you’re not from here, for example. And I think that there, there are some understandable reasons that people make that assumption, just like your question earlier about, well, what if I’m in Japan? Well, then clearly, I need to make some adaptation, but that’s different from completely eliminating.
[00:32:34] Melissa Hahn: myself from the equation. And what Andy and I found when we were working on our book is that there are some questions you can ask yourself to try to determine maybe how free you are in a given situation to show your full personality. But we always make adaptations. if I’m working with, I’m going to be a little bit different than if I’m hanging out with my best friend, or I’m talking to a grandparent, or I’m interacting with a neighbor at a community meeting.
[00:33:00] Melissa Hahn: There’s always different sides of ourselves that we can bring to the table. But what we don’t want to do is negate ourselves entirely because That’s going to be really demoralizing, it’s going to be hard to sustain, it fuels resentment, but then other people are also going to be missing out on what we have to offer.
[00:33:17] Melissa Hahn: By the same token, I think we want to be careful about not expecting people to remove themselves entirely from the relationship we have. either. We want to invite people to bring what they have to offer because otherwise, why would they be there? we want to really draw out people’s potential and people’s talents and people’s stories and their backgrounds so that we fully benefit from everything that the people around us can contribute.
[00:33:43] Siebe Van Der Zee: I’m thinking also, and it goes back a few decades, but I think it was Edward T. Hall that talked about low context and high context countries, where in certain countries there’s a lot of meaning derived from what’s not being said, purely the behavior. And there are countries, including the United States, where, no, just speak your mind.
[00:34:08] Siebe Van Der Zee: And there are countries, including my native country, the Netherlands, where we will tell you what you should be saying. You know what I mean? Right? So, the context sometimes is very direct, or it can be indirect. when you communicate with people, let’s say from Asia, do you approach them differently than when you deal with people from Western Europe?
[00:34:30] Melissa Hahn: So, what I, find works is for me to not think about it as if I’m becoming a different person, but I think about how can I show them who Melissa is, but in a different way. So, I, for example, being friendly and being approachable is important to me. I would find out how can I demonstrate that, and I might demonstrate that to a Dutch person or a German person differently than I would demonstrate that to somebody in Korea or China.
[00:34:59] Melissa Hahn: But I wouldn’t remove that part of myself entirely, it would just be a different question of how do I allow them to see that in me, knowing that They might not be looking for that in the same way because they come from a different culture.
[00:35:13] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah. Yeah. No, that’s a good point. I appreciate that.

[00:35:16] Lesson 8: Prioritize Taking Care of Yourself

[00:35:16] Siebe Van Der Zee: Lesson number eight, we’re making progress here. lesson number eight, prioritize taking care of yourself. How do you do that?
[00:35:23] Melissa Hahn: Well, it’s tricky because one of the things I’ve learned is that nobody ever turns to you and says, gosh, would you like to go take care of yourself? Now is a good time to do that.
[00:35:33] Melissa Hahn: But I think, there, there is a cognitive and kind of emotional load of trying to work on all these different cultural dimensions. It’s difficult to try to figure out where do my colleagues come from? What’s my background? How do I meet them where they are? How do we build these relationships together?
[00:35:51] Melissa Hahn: And that’s not even counting the actual work. That you’re doing, right, the work and the meetings and the projects, etc. So, I think one thing is really important is to schedule the time that you’re going to, rest and recuperate. It doesn’t have to literally be on your calendar, but to think about it as something to do.
[00:36:11] Melissa Hahn: That’s just important as all of your other tasks. Now, you might not be able to achieve a perfect harmony between work and relaxation, but I think it’s about recognizing that if you don’t do this, and that if you don’t make arrangements to do that yourself, that you’re going to start running on fumes, and then you won’t be able to achieve the goals that you’ve set for yourself, because you’ll be too tired.
[00:36:33] Melissa Hahn: so, I think trying to remember That all of this really does take work. Working across cultures can be fatiguing, and then knowing that you might need to accommodate your own self by having more time for rest. That’s what my clients have had to do as well, working in different countries, constantly being bombarded by different sort of stimuli and having to sort through it and make sense of it.
[00:36:55] Melissa Hahn: It just wears you out more than it would being in your own culture. So, Deciding, I’m going to take this day and I’m going to rest, or I’m going to go home every six months, or whatever it is that works for you, I think can really make a difference in allowing you to have a sustainable cross cultural approach, as opposed to just going full speed ahead until you crash.
[00:37:16] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah, no, it’s a wise lesson, but I have a hard time personally learning that lesson because, it is indeed, well, if from the United States, if I talk to someone, let’s say my friends in Australia with the podcast, that’s right now when 18 hour time difference, when I deal with, South America, it’s four or five hours when I deal with Europe, it’s eight or nine hours.
[00:37:40] Siebe Van Der Zee: I’m so used to it, but I appreciate your point as far as you have to set limits And, it’s, you’re absolutely right when you are involved in international relations, communication, business, it’s 24 hours, right? it’s the globe. and. I still find it difficult to, for myself to set limits, but I think it’s a good lesson that, as you say, prioritize taking care of yourself because it’s easy to say, well, yeah, okay, I have to get up really early or I got to work late at night, but it’s okay.
[00:38:15] Melissa Hahn: Sometimes we don’t have a choice, right? Sometimes it’s just the best thing. but I’ve started trying to let people know, I’m on an earlier time or I’m in a different time zone than you are. And I’d say, oh, the time you propose is actually 5am for me. do you have any wiggle room?
[00:38:30] Melissa Hahn: Is there a way that we could possibly do this, one or two hours later? They can’t. They’re also trying to accommodate other time zones, maybe in Asia, but I’ve tried to give myself permission just to ask, to see if there’s any possibility rather than immediately trying to accommodate whatever the timeframe is.
[00:38:47] Melissa Hahn: Just asking can often open up possibilities.
[00:38:49] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah, and maybe to plan ahead, right? To tell yourself, okay, next week or next month, I got to make sure, et cetera, that I allocate my time smarter than what I did last month, for example. So yeah, it’s good lesson. Good to know.

[00:39:05] Lesson 9: When Networking, Think About Connections not just Obtaining Info

[00:39:05] Siebe Van Der Zee: let’s move on to lesson number nine.
[00:39:07] Siebe Van Der Zee: When networking, think about making connections with people, not just obtaining business cards and sharing digital details. I love it. your thoughts, please.
[00:39:17] Melissa Hahn: this thought has two sides. One is for the people who are, really confident and really able to just go up and shake hands and exchange business cards, but then later find out that they don’t remember who they talk to,
[00:39:27] Melissa Hahn: And it’s also for the people who are afraid and hesitant to initiate those conversations. And I think for both sides of the spectrum, if you focus less on the task and you think more about, I’m just talking to a person, I think it becomes a lot more possible. And a lot more manageable, but also a lot more meaningful.
[00:39:47] Melissa Hahn: So, at a conference, I can probably only keep track of, I don’t know, a dozen or maybe two dozen people at most. I’m not going to remember everybody I met, and that’s okay. But if there are people that you talk to that you really feel like you’ve initiated a connection with, it can help to think about those people, not just what they are and what their job, who they are and what their job title is, but something that you remember from your interaction.
[00:40:10] Melissa Hahn: Maybe they mentioned that they came from a country that you want to go to, or maybe they mentioned that they too have kids, or that, you both shared a love of pasta over the banquet dinner, whatever it is, if you can make a note to yourself about what you talked about, even the smallest thing, when you get home from that networking event, if you want to follow up with them, now you have a starting place.
[00:40:33] Melissa Hahn: You have that little initial kind of seed that you’ve planted. of this very fledgling rapport. It’s not like you have a deep bond just because you exchanged this conversation, but it’s a first step towards getting to know them as a person. Now, in truth, only a very small percentage of all those people, even if you follow this technique, are really going to be lasting connections, but the ones that do then become lasting relationships, I think, are even more valuable because you did give them the nourishment that they needed.
[00:41:05] Melissa Hahn: So, I think that for people who are just collecting as many business cards as they can, thinking about it in terms of relationships will help them slow down and make relationships that count. But also, people who are afraid of the small talk moment, I think can diffuse that fear by recognizing that you’re not making brilliant conversation, you’re just saying hello, just say hello, and just get started.
[00:41:28] Melissa Hahn: And then pretty soon you will have a network that you can start to be proud of.
[00:41:32] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah, I like it. it’s in a way the softer side in the relationship. Uh, when people are dealing with issues and you meet them for a business meeting, but you find out that, that whatever, they have a child that, that needs to have a certain, attention, for whatever reason, is for that person at that moment the most important.
[00:41:53] Siebe Van Der Zee: And sure, we are here to talk business and, whatever, negotiate something. But if you forget about the human side and the fact that person is at that moment, in my example, taking care of a child, that is at the top of that person’s mind. And if you recognize that, chances are that person will say, I appreciate that you remember that you understand what I’m dealing with.
[00:42:18] Siebe Van Der Zee: And yes, let’s talk about the business and we move on. But that relationship building, it’s broader than just, like you say, exchanging business cards. So, it’s a very good example.

[00:42:28] Lesson 10: It Is Truly A Small World

[00:42:28] Siebe Van Der Zee: Can you believe we’re at lesson number 10, Melissa?
[00:42:31] Melissa Hahn: This is flown by, Siebe.
[00:42:32] Siebe Van Der Zee: I know. and I wish we had more time. but, lesson number 10, it is truly a small world.
[00:42:39] Siebe Van Der Zee: So, guard your reputation and close doors gently rather than burning bridges. Wow. good lesson, but tell me your thoughts, please.
[00:42:50] Melissa Hahn: Well, you can try to do everything right. You can really, you can think about the other person’s culture. You can try to give space to their personality. You can be curious about them.
[00:43:00] Melissa Hahn: You can build this relationship. You can really try hard, and things might not work out. people are difficult enough in our own culture, they can certainly be difficult to connect with when we’re talking about other cultures. And it’s, I think we should accept that not every relationship is going to be, permanent.
[00:43:17] Melissa Hahn: Sometimes people just come and go, especially in business. But what I try to do is imagine That the people I’m working with today might know the people I’m working with tomorrow. And the reason I say that is that it’s happened. my industries are very different, international relations, relocation, and, even in higher education.
[00:43:37] Melissa Hahn: And I am constantly surprised to see who actually knows who in these worlds that to me appeared very separate. And I’ve been grateful in retrospect to think, oh, I’m really glad that maybe I just bit my tongue or I just, took the professional way out of that moment I had with that person because I can now see that they’re connected to somebody else that I know.
[00:44:00] Melissa Hahn: And I wouldn’t want a bad experience with one person to undermine a potential future opportunity with another person. So, I don’t think that means that we tiptoe. I think it just means that it’s really good to remember that in our connected world that we never know which people might know which other people.
[00:44:19] Melissa Hahn: And so, we want to be interacting with people in a way that reflects what we hope our character, will be seen as by everybody, not just, how we’re feeling in the moment with that one person.
[00:44:30] Siebe Van Der Zee: There are situations, perhaps, where you are not comfortable, not happy with what that person has decided and how it impacts you.
[00:44:41] Siebe Van Der Zee: should you not push back, say something back, because he or she may be upset about the fact that you don’t agree with them?
[00:44:50] Melissa Hahn: I don’t think it’s about agreeing. I think it’s about deciding what your own. Style is going to be in trying to be consistent and have your own integrity. And of course, this is a personal as well as a cultural question.
[00:45:02] Melissa Hahn: But if I, let’s say I disagree with you Siebe, I might say, we, we could address that. I might say, oh, I think we disagree about this. Or I might say, I think that this project isn’t working for us. I think I’m going to; I’m going to stop working on this and I’m going to do something else.
[00:45:15] Melissa Hahn: Like you might have to have a conversation. And you might do that more or less directly, depending on your own background, but I think sometimes, I think what we don’t, we want to imagine our relationships as part of a broader web of relationships. And so, we want to be mindful that the way that we treat one person.
[00:45:35] Melissa Hahn: Isn’t just treating, that person has dignity, and we want to treat them that way, but also that they are connected to other people. So, I don’t think it’s about being afraid. I think it’s just about being, conscientious and savvy about what our overall reputation is and what our, what we become known for.
[00:45:54] Melissa Hahn: Really. So, if you are having a conflict with the person, I think that’s normal. you’re not going to be on the same page all the time, but I think we want to be thinking about, there’s no people who don’t count, I think that’s really what it’s about. There are no people who don’t count in our world.
[00:46:08] Melissa Hahn: We want to be treating people with dignity.
[00:46:11] Siebe Van Der Zee: And respect, right? Because it’s, I look at it sometimes and I realize that I can be quite direct with people. but over time. I have learned lessons where indeed, I need to say it a little bit more carefully, not because my mind says, this is ridiculous.
[00:46:31] Siebe Van Der Zee: No, that’s not the way to solve the problem. And I think also sometimes when there is disagreement, to listen, to deliberately listen to the other person, even if you disagree, but it can be very helpful to let him or her speak their mind on a certain topic. Maybe there’s something to learn. Maybe I still don’t agree, but at least you give the respect.
[00:46:52] Siebe Van Der Zee: And I think that’s what I see in your lesson as well. that, yeah, it is a small world in that sense. It’s definitely a small world. It’s a good lesson.
[00:47:00] Melissa Hahn: Yeah. If I could say one more thing, Siebe, it is why I think the relationships matter over the performance. If you’re focused on performing as if you’re on the same page, and then you might feel that you have to mask how you really feel, or you might have, you might feel that you can’t express yourself.
[00:47:17] Melissa Hahn: If there’s a relationship, even if we come from different cultures, I can say, you said that really directly, Siebe, or you might say, oh, Melissa, I might have come across really directly. let’s see if we can approach this in a different way. If you have the relationship, now you have the context in which you can be a more authentic version of yourself and in which you can constructively address places where things might have gone awry.
[00:47:40] Melissa Hahn: If you’re just trying to pretend that you’re on the same page, that’s really going to break down pretty quickly.
[00:47:46] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah, no, it’s a good point. And I had to think of a person I used to work for many years ago, and he was crude, and in the office, he would refer to me as a bastard. At the same time, I learned so much from him.
[00:48:03] Siebe Van Der Zee: And it was his style, it was his personality. But I am so grateful that I worked for that person. And it goes back to your point is that you have the respect. And even though the way he spoke, I don’t speak that way and I don’t like to speak that way, but the person and the relationship that we had was very solid.
[00:48:23] Siebe Van Der Zee: And it’s a great example of, indeed, we have to be in that sense, gentle. Also, when people are crude and rude, if we can rise above it, don’t let it affect us as individuals. wow. that, that can be very helpful indeed.
[00:48:40] Siebe Van Der Zee: Well, let me ask you, and we have now covered your 10 lessons, but is there perhaps a lesson in life, in your career, that you would say you have unlearned, decided like, that’s not the way to go anymore, I need to do it differently?
[00:48:55] Siebe Van Der Zee: Anything that comes to mind?
[00:48:56] Melissa Hahn: one of the, one of the lessons that I have unlearned is actually Maybe counterintuitive for somebody who does intercultural work. And one of the lessons is worrying about being a perfect culture crosser or being a perfect expat. before I went to Poland, I read all these things about all the things that irritate Europeans about Americans.
[00:49:18] Melissa Hahn: And I tried really hard not to do any of them. And I still try, not. to do these things. I try not to talk really loudly, or I try, not to, constantly, chime into all the conversations if it’s not called for. But I also found that what was written in advice books wasn’t necessarily how real people on the ground thought about me.
[00:49:38] Melissa Hahn: And I went to a conference, one time it was actually in Poland after I had been back in the US for a while. And there was a moment where I was in a small group discussion, and nobody was saying anything. And everybody was just waiting. And finally, I couldn’t take it anymore as an American. I wanted to have this discussion.
[00:49:55] Melissa Hahn: And so, I said, well, I don’t mean to be really American here, but I have something I can add. And one of the people said, oh, good, please go ahead. We don’t know what we want to say yet. So, they were happy, actually, to have this conversation. Somebody take the lead. So, something that I had read in a book was something not to do, was actually welcome in that context.
[00:50:16] Melissa Hahn: So, what I found was that we don’t need to try to hide the fact that we come from a culture. Everybody in the room could tell I wasn’t from Poland, and I spoke a little bit of Polish, but they could tell. So, I think what I realized was that I could actually try to selectively share my American culture.
[00:50:38] Melissa Hahn: Not to try to make everybody else come to me, but it was still something I had to offer. It wasn’t a deficit that I had to overcome. And I think the same thing comes from other cultures as well. one of my closest colleagues is Polish, and I always love the way she approaches her presentations and the way she works with clients who’ve done some projects together, because it’s different from what I have to offer.
[00:50:59] Melissa Hahn: And so, if she was trying to be me, then I would miss out on having her be her. So, I think Something that I’ve stopped doing is trying to cover up the fact that I have a culture and just allowing it to be part of who I am.
[00:51:11] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah, I like it. it makes me think and that name comes up in my mind from time to time.
[00:51:16] Siebe Van Der Zee: Socrates, the Greek philosopher,399 before Christ, so quite a while ago. But he talked about, as far as we know, about the concept. He said, I’m not from Athens. I’m not from Greece. I’m a citizen of the world. And like in your case, where you have, extensive global experience and have lived in other countries, and you put these cultural aspects in the mixer and say, okay, like you just said, yes, I’m American.
[00:51:45] Siebe Van Der Zee: And I would say proud to be American. And well. People in Poland may have a certain impression of stereotypical Americans, and at the same time, we are who we are, and when you can cross bridges and communicate with people, it’s not to say, well, because you talk to them, they became Americans. No, they are from, in this case, from Poland, and at the same time, I can see the curiosity to learn from you and your experience.
[00:52:15] Siebe Van Der Zee: As you indicated earlier, you learned from them and their experience. And that’s being a global citizen in my mind. And it’s a different story to talk about why people think that their culture, their country is the best. That’s a whole discussion for a different time. But the idea is that there are different countries and different cultures and how to cross.
[00:52:36] Siebe Van Der Zee: And what you’re talking about in your 10 lessons and definitely in your brand-new book, I think that’s something that, hopefully people around the world. can learn from. And I wish you a lot of good luck with your brand-new book and thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with our global audience.
[00:52:57] Melissa Hahn: Thank you, Siebe. It was a pleasure to be here.
[00:52:59] Siebe Van Der Zee: In closing I want to make a few remarks. You’ve been listening to our international program, 10 Lessons Learned. This episode is produced by Robert Hossary. And as always, we are supported by the Professional Development Forum. Our guest today is Melissa Hahn.
[00:53:15] Siebe Van Der Zee: Sharing her 10 Lessons Learned. Melissa is an author and an intercultural professional who helps people collaborate, adapt, and thrive across cultures. And to our audience, don’t forget to leave us a review or a comment. You can also email us at podcast@10lessonslearned.com.
[00:53:34] Siebe Van Der Zee: I hope you will subscribe so you don’t miss any future episodes. And remember, this is a podcast that makes the world wiser and wiser lesson by lesson. Thank you and stay safe.

 This episode is produced by Robert Hossary. Sponsored as always by Professional Development Forum. You can find the www.professionaldevelopmentforum.org you’ve heard from us we’d like to hear from you. Email us it’s podcast@10lessonslearned.com. Remember, this is the podcast the only podcast. That’s makes the world wiser lesson by lesson.

Melissa Hahn

Melissa Hahn – There are no wasted experiences.

Explore the journey of fostering effective intercultural relations with intercultural professional Melissa Hahn, emphasizing building genuine relationships over cultural differences. Learn valuable lessons on adaptability, personal growth, and embracing cultural identities. Delve into the significance of self-care and the art of maintaining authenticity in various cultural contexts. Hosted by Siebe Van Der Zee

About Melissa Hahn

Melissa Hahn is an intercultural professional who helps people collaborate, adapt and thrive across cultures. She earned a master’s degree in intercultural relations from the University of the Pacific in California, has lived abroad in Poland, and has an extensive professional background that spans international relations, teaching English to speakers of other languages, and global mobility/corporate relocation.
She works independently as a trainer, coach and consultant; teaches intercultural communication at American University; and is on the leadership team of the Global Dexterity Certification.
She believes that intercultural skills are for everyone, because we all come from cultures and need to figure out how to live, work, and connect with people who have different backgrounds and life experiences from us. Through her children’s book “Luminarias Light the Way” and her upcoming book “Forging Bonds in a Global Workforce” (McGraw Hill), she aims to show how practical, do-able, and even fun this process can be for people of all ages.

Episode Notes

Lesson 1: Cultural competence isn’t memorizing details about another culture. It’s building relationships with individuals from those cultures. 09:21
Lesson 2: You’re not getting a cultural report card. 11:38
Lesson 3: Don’t judge cultural experiences by whether you like them. Judge them by whether they make you grow. 16:11
Lesson 4: There are no wasted experiences. 20:42
Lesson 5: Think about the messages you are sending, and whether they facilitate trust. 25:08
Lesson 6: Let yourself be ambivalent. 28:06
Lesson 7: Let your light shine – and help others shine their light, too. 32:01
Lesson 8: Prioritize taking care of yourself. 35:16
Lesson 9: When networking, think about making connections with people, not just obtaining business cards or sharing digital details. 39:05
Lesson 10: It is truly a small world, so guard your reputation and close doors gently, rather than burning bridges. 42:28

Melissa Hahn – There are no wasted experiences.

[00:00:08] Siebe Van Der Zee: Hello, and welcome to our program, 10 Lessons Learned, where we talk to interesting people from all over the world about their interesting experiences and the lessons they have learned. My name is Siebe Van Der Zee, and I’m your host. I’m based in Phoenix, Arizona, in the beautiful Grand Canyon State, where I’m also known as the Dutchman in the desert.
[00:00:30] Siebe Van Der Zee: Our guest today is Melissa Hahn. Melissa is an author and an intercultural professional who helps people collaborate, adapt, and thrive across cultures. She works independently as a trainer, coach, and as a consultant. She teaches intercultural communication at American University, and she is on the leadership team of the Global Dexterity Certification.
[00:00:52] Siebe Van Der Zee: Melissa earned a master’s degree in intercultural relations from the University of the Pacific in California. She has lived abroad in Poland, and she has extensive professional background that spans international relations, teaching English as a second language, and in global mobility and corporate relocation.
[00:01:10] Siebe Van Der Zee: Melissa believes that Intercultural skills are for everyone because we all come from different cultures and we all need to figure out how to live, work, and connect with people who have different backgrounds and life experiences from ours. Both, through her children’s book named Luminarias Light the Way, I love the title, and her brand-new book, Luminarias Light the Way, Forging Bonds in a Global Workforce, published by McGraw Hill.
[00:01:37] Siebe Van Der Zee: Melissa aims to show how practical, doable, and fun this process of learning intercultural skills can be for all people at all ages. You can learn more about Melissa Hahn on our website 10lessonslearned. com.
[00:01:52] Siebe Van Der Zee: Hello, Melissa. Thank you so much for joining us.
[00:01:56] Melissa Hahn: Hi, Siebe. It’s great to be here.
[00:01:57] Siebe Van Der Zee: I appreciate it.
[00:01:58] Siebe Van Der Zee: And, you have such a fascinating international global background, but maybe to start, where is your passion for intercultural relations coming from?
[00:02:09] Melissa Hahn: This is a really good question, and I don’t know if I can pinpoint the precise origin, but I think there are two components. One is that, as I grew up in Arizona, where you are currently located, and it felt a little bit removed.
[00:02:23] Melissa Hahn: from some of the world history and some of the cultures that I was really curious about. So, I just always wanted to get out there. I wanted to see the world and I wanted to connect with the world. And the more I had those experiences, the more excited I was and the more I wanted to help other people.
[00:02:38] Melissa Hahn: But at the same time, as I had those experiences, I realized that I hadn’t come from nowhere. I’d come from what was actually a very interesting place. And that in fact, there were many cultures. in my home state of Arizona that I had grown up around that were not familiar to other people.
[00:02:55] Melissa Hahn: And so, I started to have a renewed appreciation for the diversity and really the vibrant cultural environment that I was familiar with from my childhood. And so, there was this reciprocal process where I wanted to see the world away from home. And as I did that, I became interested in the world I had come from.
[00:03:13] Melissa Hahn: And I started, acting like a bridge. And the more that I did that, the more I enjoyed it, the more I wanted to help other people do that. it just started perpetuating itself, of its own accord.
[00:03:23] Siebe Van Der Zee: Wow.
[00:03:23] Siebe Van Der Zee: it all, let’s say, led to your brand-new book, Forging Bonds in a Global Workforce. Tell us a little bit more about this book.
[00:03:32] Siebe Van Der Zee: It’s brand new and I’m very curious to read it.
[00:03:36] Melissa Hahn: Oh, thank you, Siebe. It is brand new. Forging Bonds in a Global Workforce is co-authored by Andy Molinsky and published by McGraw Hill, and we are trying to offer a new approach to crossing cultures. Now, people who are interested in global work and intercultural relations might be familiar with some of the books that are already out there, what we’re wanting to do is build on.
[00:03:58] Melissa Hahn: what they’ve already accomplished. we’re at a point, Andy and I think, where we’re not really needing so much to identify all the ways that we’re different. Of course, differences are interesting and they’re a source of appreciation for where the other person comes from. But the real challenge, we think, in this era of virtual work and increased loneliness and political fragmentation, all these things that are pulling us apart, We think it’s time to really focus on building actual relationships with real people, rather than just trying to enumerate all of the abstract academic complexities.
[00:04:33] Melissa Hahn: that’s what our book tries to do. We try to package our advice and our frameworks and our insights in the form of Easy-to-use approaches and tips and real-world stories so that people have a starting place. We think a lot of people could be a lot better at crossing cultures if they just had somebody show them how, and that’s what we’re trying to do.
[00:04:53] Siebe Van Der Zee: Does it go beyond the basic, do’s and don’ts?
[00:04:57] Melissa Hahn: Oh, definitely. the lists of dos and don’ts are very popular on social media. If you’ve ever looked up a quick list before you go somewhere, you know how they can be helpful. But unfortunately, the chances are good that you’re going to meet somebody who doesn’t exactly fit that list.
[00:05:13] Melissa Hahn: what we want to do is offer strategies and methods and approaches for how you can get the lay of the land. When you first meet another person, and that you don’t have to rely on memorizing those lists of do’s and don’ts, because you have strategies and things you yourself can try in the moment.
[00:05:30] Melissa Hahn: Whether that person from the other culture meets your expectations about their culture or not, because you really never know how somebody is going to be when you meet them for the first time.
[00:05:39] Siebe Van Der Zee: It happens, that we stereotype other cultures, other countries and we say, well, the Japanese are like this, the Germans are like that, the Brazilians, etc.
[00:05:50] Siebe Van Der Zee: But when you meet individuals from those countries, they don’t necessarily fit that very generic type of framework, right? Each individual can be different from the national culture.
[00:06:04] Melissa Hahn: Definitely, and you know, I think that’s especially true in global work and in an era where so many people are studying abroad, or they might have relatives in multiple countries, and so you never really know what their own cultural inspiration points are going to be.
[00:06:20] Melissa Hahn: And so, one of the things we try to help people do in the book is to go beyond stereotyping and try out something we call prototyping, where it still helps to have a guess. you don’t want to just assume every person is going to be so different that they’re unknowable, because that will be overwhelming too, but if you can have a guess, that’s okay, what you want to do is test that guess when you meet a person for the first time and see if they actually are what you expected, and if not, you want to try to adjust and get to know the real version of them, rather than trying to squish them into the stereotype that you’re bringing to the table.
[00:06:54] Siebe Van Der Zee: Great point. I look forward to your 10 lessons, but before we get there, let me ask you another question. are there any lessons in your life, in your career that you have learned that you wish you would have known when you were much younger?
[00:07:10] Melissa Hahn: One that comes to mind and I say this to my students as well, when I work with graduate students at the university, I really wish I had just let people know that I wanted their advice, and that I could use their help. I think, especially as a young professional, I think people feel this way today.
[00:07:28] Melissa Hahn: There’s a lot of pressure to show that you are really well organized and you’re completely on track and you are competent, and you’ve got it all together. And those are really important signals if you want people to take you seriously. But sometimes I think we can be so focused on showing other people that we are completely self-contained, and we’ve got it all together, that we don’t actually create a space.
[00:07:49] Melissa Hahn: for them to share their insights and advice with us, and I think if I had just opened the door a little crack and let people help me, I probably would have had an easier time, and I also might have then opened the door to other opportunities because they would have known that I was ready and wanting that support, rather than trying to just show them I had everything, down perfectly.
[00:08:10] Siebe Van Der Zee: it is so powerful to have a mentor, to have someone that, has your interest in mind. And at the same time, I don’t know if that makes any sense, but the younger we are as people, the smarter we are. when I was 19, 20 years old, I was much smarter than when I was today. So, I don’t need someone to tell me what to do.
[00:08:29] Siebe Van Der Zee: You know what I mean? Right.
[00:08:31] Melissa Hahn: Oh, definitely.
[00:08:32] Siebe Van Der Zee: For many people, that’s something that we experience. But then, like you say, you come to the point where you say, wow, I, I wish I would have had someone, or I wish I would have listened to the people that were out there and, were willing to help you.
[00:08:47] Siebe Van Der Zee: But again, like in my case, I was much smarter than they were. Not really.
[00:08:53] Melissa Hahn: I think that’s a starting place for this book as well, Siebe, is that we want to give people permission to not have all the answers. Because, if you think you have to have all the answers, it’s very hard to get started.
[00:09:04] Melissa Hahn: you can search for answers and try to prepare forever. But oftentimes our work is happening now, and we want to help people. Accept the fact at some level, they can’t fundamentally know everything there is to know about the other culture. We have to try to somehow be in a position where we can ask for help.

[00:09:21] Lesson 1: Cultural Competence isn’t Memorizing Details about another Culture.

[00:09:21] Siebe Van Der Zee: Absolutely. Well, let’s take a look at your 10 lessons. Lesson number one, cultural competence isn’t memorizing details about another culture. It’s building relationships with individuals from those cultures. What are your thoughts on that?
[00:09:38] Melissa Hahn: One of the best things that one of my professors and my mentors ever said to me was that there’s a huge difference between learning about culture and actually doing culture.
[00:09:48] Melissa Hahn: And that, if you are studying about culture, you’re acquiring knowledge. for your brain. That’s really powerful. It’s great to have this information about other cultures because that alone can help us shift our perspective. But if you think about things too much and you don’t get around to actually engaging, you don’t have a chance to really test that knowledge.
[00:10:09] Melissa Hahn: when we’re talking about cultures, the real kind of proof is whether you can engage with another human being. I think that a lot of our trainings that we see, a lot of the material that’s out there is really trying to prepare people for the moment of encounter.
[00:10:25] Melissa Hahn: But what I want to encourage people to do is to have that moment of encounter, because until you actually interact, until you actually try to do something, whether it’s baking a cake or riding a bike, you can’t actually have the learning that you’re waiting for. So, I think the real power is in having that moment of connection.
[00:10:43] Melissa Hahn: Then you can learn something. Then you can move forward together.
[00:10:47] Siebe Van Der Zee: It’s a great point. And it makes me think about, how people travel to certain countries, maybe to go on vacation or for a short trip to attend a conference. That doesn’t mean that they have enough time. to really learn the culture.
[00:11:01] Siebe Van Der Zee: And they may have been to that particular country or city a number of times and say, oh yeah, I’ve been there. I’ve been to Rome a number of times. Well, does that mean you understand the Italian culture? in my experience, no, because back to your point, it takes time to build those relationships. I think there is a difference people who have lived and worked.
[00:11:22] Siebe Van Der Zee: in a country other than theirs, let’s say, native country, compared to people who have gone on a vacation to a country, right? I think that’s what you’re talking about as well, to have that time to learn and
[00:11:34] Siebe Van Der Zee: experience.
[00:11:34] Melissa Hahn: Yeah, there’s the time and there’s the commitment, but there’s also the intuition that you develop.

[00:11:38] Lesson 2: You’re Not Getting a Cultural Report Card

[00:11:38] Siebe Van Der Zee: we will continue with lesson number two; you’re not getting a cultural report card. What are your thoughts on that?
[00:11:46] Melissa Hahn: Well, this ties in with lesson number one, I think oftentimes when we see a cultural training or the way somebody is approaching their culture crossing experience, the reason they’re trying to learn all this information and have all of the do’s and don’ts is that they’re trying to avoid mistakes.
[00:12:02] Melissa Hahn: And they’re trying to avoid mistakes because they want to make a good impression on the other party. But in lesson number two, I want to share that we’re actually not being graded. when we’re interacting with another person, we are getting to know that person. We’re not just performing their culture in a kind of abstract decontextualized way.
[00:12:22] Melissa Hahn: We’re often working on a project where we have specific goals, and what we need to do is focus less on, am I doing the other culture right? And we need to focus on, how can I use my cultural knowledge to navigate the situation so that I can work with this particular person in this particular time and place, on these particular goals.
[00:12:44] Melissa Hahn: if you think about how there’s a reason for you being in the situation, there’s also a reason for that other person being in that situation. if they are totally focused on just performing your culture, it’s going to get in the way, of what you’re trying to accomplish together. So, I think about it less as I’m being evaluated and more about, we are engaged in this moment together and how can we actually make the most.
[00:13:08] Melissa Hahn: of this moment. How can we do this together? It’s something you’re co creating in real time as opposed to something you’re just performing.
[00:13:16] Siebe Van Der Zee: Now, not to disagree, but if I think about companies that are operating in multiple countries and they have a certain way of managing their people, their teams, and they Go to another country and they say, well, this is how we do it in our country, whichever our country is, but let’s say United States and in your country, whatever that country is, but let’s say Japan.
[00:13:41] Siebe Van Der Zee: we want you to do the way we do it. And there are some resistances and perhaps people say, well, that person from the other country doesn’t understand how we do things in our country. so, in that sense, is there perhaps a report card to say, well, those people don’t know about our
[00:14:00] Siebe Van Der Zee: culture?
[00:14:01] Melissa Hahn: I do think that you have to demonstrate an effort to meet the other culture where it is, but sometimes we get focused on this idea that we are just being evaluated on our cultural skill and that’s it. I think that the cultural skills are tools that we can use for what really matters, which is, in the case of your example, managing the other party. If I were to go to Japan, and everybody else was Japanese, and I was in a traditional Japanese company, then I would have to adapt much more than if I was working on, say, a startup, and one of the employees on the startup happened to be Japanese, and they were younger than me, and they had grown up, living all over the world.
[00:14:44] Melissa Hahn: So, the degree to which I would need to adapt specifically to their culture, would shift. what we don’t want to do is think that purely acting as if we’re more local than the locals is the goal. You want to try to demonstrate an appreciation for the local culture while somehow figuring out what it is you’re supposed to do there.
[00:15:07] Melissa Hahn: I would not go in and say, I don’t have to adapt because I’m not going to perform your culture. But what I also wouldn’t do is set this sort of perfectionistic mindset bar so high that I get overwhelmed before I can even begin. in the case of your example, I would probably look for somebody that could serve as a cultural mentor.
[00:15:27] Melissa Hahn: And I would say, I really want to be successful in this situation. What are two or three things I should know? And then I would focus on those, rather than just trying to ace the culture as a whole, because that’s too much for most people to try to take on. It’s too much information to keep track of.
[00:15:45] Siebe Van Der Zee: That’s a great lesson for people to learn and, implement, because you cannot pretend you’re an expert on a country that you don’t really know well, and to find someone from that country who can guide you, who can understand, and perhaps someone who understands both, of course, their own culture, but then also the culture where, let’s say, the other person, is coming from, to understand those challenges.
[00:16:08] Siebe Van Der Zee: I think that’s extremely helpful.

[00:16:11] Lesson 3: Judge Cultural Lessons by Whether They Make You Grow

[00:16:11] Siebe Van Der Zee: moving along, lesson number three, don’t judge cultural experiences by whether you like them, judge them by whether they make you grow. sounds great.
[00:16:21] Melissa Hahn: you’re probably seeing a pattern now with me, Siebe, that I’m really interested in the way that we approach culture in our own minds, because our cultural crossing experiences are not just going to succeed or fail based on how we behave.
[00:16:37] Melissa Hahn: It also has to do with how we think about them. So, one of the reasons in the previous example that I don’t want to be too Perfectionistic is that it can prevent us from doing what I propose in this lesson, which is to have a growth mindset. but we also don’t want to get fixated on whether we like something.
[00:16:54] Melissa Hahn: I remember when I went to Poland, it was difficult from the moment my husband and I stepped off the train. The train was several hours late, it arrived in the middle of the night, it was raining, this was before smartphones. We had no way to figure out where we were going. We had no way to get money for the taxi because the ATMs, in that area weren’t available.
[00:17:15] Melissa Hahn: And from the very moment we arrived, it felt hard. this sort of overwhelming joy was not our emotional experience. we felt the culture shock immediately. And if we had decided that. We had to like it. Otherwise, it was a failure. We would have been really frustrated. So, we decided to reframe our goal.
[00:17:35] Melissa Hahn: Rather than saying, do we like it? Is it a good place? We said, what can we learn from it? Why are we here? We were there for a reason. I was pursuing my master’s degree. We said, what can we learn? What can we see? What can we experience? What can we go explore that we’ve never heard of before? We’ve never done before.
[00:17:52] Melissa Hahn: What can we do? Or we’ve never, we never could do at home in Phoenix. And so, we set this kind of scavenger hunt. goal for ourselves. We wanted to be as curious as possible. And I think when you’re curious, the world opens up to you. There are all kinds of possibilities because now you’re receptive to information.
[00:18:10] Melissa Hahn: That’s going to be a lot more productive than just trying to grin and bear it and make yourself like something that maybe you’re not in a place that you can like yet. And the interesting thing was the more that we did, the more we actually did like it. So, when liking it wasn’t this all-consuming goal, it actually just appeared on its own because now we had found lots of our own avenues to feeling more comfortable and more at home in our new environment.
[00:18:35] Siebe Van Der Zee: you’re making some great points and I can see that for so many people interacting in a culture, in a country different than their own, that I think it’s part of human nature that we are very quick to put labels and say, oh, I don’t like that. And I don’t, but if you, open your mind and say, well, let me find out, let me learn.
[00:18:55] Siebe Van Der Zee: and, I mean, I can think of many experiences in my life as well. Well, that’s so different. I don’t think I like it. But then when you think about it, my, my example is when I lived in South America and, it, it was standard for restaurants to open not before nine, 9 o’clock in the evening. Well around six, seven o’clock I get a little hungry.
[00:19:17] Siebe Van Der Zee: But as I told myself, I cannot change this country. And then I realized that after dinner, the people in that country, Uruguay, they go out in the streets, they socialize. And yes, they take a siesta, which I didn’t. But, what a wonderful way to interact. And when I look back, I would say, wow, I wish everybody would live life like that.
[00:19:40] Siebe Van Der Zee: And so indeed you learn from it. And as you say, you grow from it because it’s a different experience than the way you were raised, and you grew up in your own country and culture. But. With those experiences, it’s like, wow, it broadens your horizon.
[00:19:57] Melissa Hahn: And the more you do it, the more you’re prepared to do it the next time.
[00:20:00] Melissa Hahn: So Siebe, you were in Uruguay, you had this experience. Now you can use those same culture crossing curiosity muscles in your time in Arizona. It was the same for me. The more you allow yourself to be curious, I think the more prepared to be curious you are in the next environment that you find yourself in.
[00:20:17] Siebe Van Der Zee: yeah. Well, you mentioned earlier the term culture shock, and that’s like, oh my gosh, this is so different from what I was used to in my own country, but to overcome culture shock and to have an open mind and say, Hey, like you said with your husband, how can I learn from this? And how can we, obviously you were there for a purpose, but how can we gain more experience in that, in that particular country and culture?

[00:20:42] Lesson 4: There are NO Wasted Experiences

[00:20:42] Siebe Van Der Zee: yeah, makes a good sense. lesson number four. Oh, I like this one. There are no wasted experiences. believe me, no wasted experiences. I’m sure you have a good thought behind that.
[00:20:56] Melissa Hahn: Okay, so this idea that there are no wasted experiences is rooted in my early adulthood, my first professional years, but it also is something that I have only fully appreciated more recently. And when I graduated from college, it was the aftermath of September 11th and the dot com bust, and there wasn’t a huge demand for people who had studied Russian and Central and Eastern Europe.
[00:21:24] Melissa Hahn: And I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to do, but in the meantime, I had to have a job. And there was an opening in the summer at the YMCA to be a swimming instructor and a swim coach. And I had swum for a long time competitively, and I thought, okay, I guess I’ll do this for the time being. Well, what was really interesting is that experience, teaching people how to swim, which either meant getting Keeping the attention of five year olds, which was a group that I coached, or helping people let go of their fears and really step into the pool for the first time in their lives.
[00:21:56] Melissa Hahn: All of those things are really similar to what it’s like to help people as a cross cultural trainer and coach. I really got a sense for how important it was to meet people where they were. And to really listen to them and their needs and their fears and their sources of motivation, I had a sense for how I could give feedback more effectively, you have to communicate in a certain way if you’re going to try to help somebody understand how they should move their body in the water.
[00:22:24] Melissa Hahn: And it’s the same for crossing cultures. I also had to figure out how I could be patient with their own progress. sometimes we want, as cultural trainers, we want people to make progress now. And it’s the same thing with swimming, but I had to let it play out. And another thing I had to learn was how to scaffold my instruction, which piece of information should come first, and then how can I help them build on that?
[00:22:46] Melissa Hahn: at the time when I was doing this, I was really disappointed. I couldn’t believe I had graduated, and I had this degree, and I was just in this pool with a bunch of kids. But really what I was doing was laying the foundation for the work that I am doing today. And I never would have predicted that, more than 20 years ago.
[00:23:04] Melissa Hahn: But now that I see that I want to share that with other people, because I think we all end up in moments. that we didn’t expect to be in. And if we can pull something from that experience, whether it’s an expat experience or a job that maybe wasn’t quite the right fit, if we can see the value in that and we can bring the value into our future chapters, then really it wasn’t a waste or even a disappointment.
[00:23:25] Melissa Hahn: It was something that really can add a lot to the overall quality of our life.
[00:23:30] Siebe Van Der Zee: Do you see yourself as a, as an optimist, no matter what?
[00:23:34] Melissa Hahn: it’s interesting. I don’t feel particularly. optimistic. something I picked up from living in Poland and Central and Eastern Europe is a scepticism about being overly sunny and optimistic.
[00:23:47] Melissa Hahn: That’s a very American kind of cultural value. And I feel that after living in Poland, I feel a bit, more sceptical about that, but it, there’s a, it’s more of a certainty and a resolve that even it’s not that I feel optimistic that things will always work out. It’s that I think they won’t work out.
[00:24:06] Melissa Hahn: And we can get through them anyway. So, it’s a realistic, it’s not negative, but it’s, I don’t think it’s quite optimism either.
[00:24:13] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah, there, I had to think of a, a quote by a famous Dutch soccer player many years ago. And, well, in English it, it says every disadvantage has an advantage.
[00:24:26] Siebe Van Der Zee: And again, as a soccer player, that means you’re losing the game or you didn’t score the goal, but there is something positive about that. and I understand that’s why I asked, you don’t have to be an eternal optimist. You have to be a realist perhaps. And like you said, other countries are in that sense, maybe less excited than people in the United States.
[00:24:47] Siebe Van Der Zee: Even the word excited seems to fit in the U S but it is okay. let’s look at the positives and yes, you’re dealing with negatives, but you will get over it. you will move on. and I think that’s, that’s, I like what you’re saying as far as there are no wasted experiences. you’ll learn no matter what, and, sometimes it’s tough, but the experience could be worthwhile.

[00:25:08] Lesson 5: Think about the Messages You Are Sending and Whether They Facilitate Trust

[00:25:08] Siebe Van Der Zee: All right. Yeah. Well, let’s take a look at lesson number five. Think about the messages that you are sending and whether they facilitate trust. Now, trust is a key element in building relationships, right?
[00:25:22] Melissa Hahn: It is. And, research has, researchers have found that the kind of constant elements that we’re looking for when we meet a new person or getting to know them are two factors.
[00:25:33] Melissa Hahn: One is this person likable? Do I want to spend time around them? And the other is competence, are they good at what they do? Now the difficulty is that when we’re crossing cultures, the way that we signal these things and the way that we interpret those signals can be really different. So, what I might signal to an American about I’m a nice person, and I’m going to be good to work with might be different than how they would go through that process in Germany or in China.
[00:26:01] Melissa Hahn: But I think that Even if we don’t know exactly how we can send those signals and how the other person’s going to receive them, if we’re attuned to the fact that we are in fact sending these signals and that this is part of the relationship building, we’re already going to have a head start. Also, this is a reminder that, in the previous lessons I talked about how you’re not just memorizing cultural information and then showing everybody that you know it.
[00:26:27] Melissa Hahn: This is really where I think Yeah, it’s more important to interact with other people. I can show you that I want to have this relationship with you, and I want to work well with you, without necessarily knowing the entire history of the Netherlands, right? I can just try to send my own signals, and I can try to be mindful of the fact that you could be trying as well, and maybe if I’m not sure exactly where things are going, if we’re establishing a rapport, if my joke landed well, I can remember, oh, well, Siebe comes from a different culture, maybe.
[00:26:57] Melissa Hahn: Maybe his signals are different, but if we can return to this idea that we’re constantly either cultivating or undermining this fledgling relationship, we can try to get ourselves on the right track, look at the signals we’re receiving in return, and try to make modifications. It’s not a formula that we can follow, but it’s something to be aware of so that we can constantly try to be getting closer to the best chance possible that we have in working well with that person.

[00:27:26] Affiliate Break

[00:27:26] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah, I like it. thank you for sharing that. we’re talking today with Melissa Hahn, sharing her 10 Lessons Learned. Melissa is a successful author and intercultural professional helping people collaborate, adapt, and thrive across cultures. I want to thank our affiliate partner, Audible. Audible is an amazing way to experience our program, 10 Lessons Learned, but also books and other podcasts, allowing you to build a library of knowledge for your All-in-one place, you can start your free 30-day trial by going to audibletrial.com/10lessonslearned. Again, that’s audibletrial.com/10lessonslearned. all lowercase to get your free 30-day subscription.

[00:28:09] Lesson 6: Let Yourself Be Ambivalent

[00:28:09] Siebe Van Der Zee: Moving along, lesson number six, let yourself be ambivalent. I’m curious what you mean with that. That’s being ambivalent, right?
[00:28:19] Melissa Hahn: Yes. So, in the U S we often value things like being decisive, taking action, having clear cut goals that we set and then going out and achieving them.
[00:28:29] Melissa Hahn: And that helps us accomplish a lot. It gives our life some clarity. The trouble is that especially if we are going through a transition or we are in a new culture, we often just may not have that sense of exactly where we’re even trying to go, let alone how we should try to get there.
[00:28:47] Melissa Hahn: And I think sometimes when I work with my coaching clients, I see that they really are uncomfortable. in that in between space, which is, which makes sense. if you’re neither here nor there, where are you? but sometimes by trying to prematurely just hurry up and get to our destination, we miss out on the opportunity to ask ourselves important questions.
[00:29:08] Melissa Hahn: And we also miss out on the opportunity to get a sense for what our options really are. So, when I work with, I try to encourage them to not see this in between stage. as a problem to be solved, but rather as a natural part of their own journey and their own adaptation process that, of course, they don’t want to stay in that forever.
[00:29:32] Melissa Hahn: But allowing themselves to press pause and saying, I’m not sure what I think about this yet. I think I need more information. I think I need to go and do some experimenting. I think I need to do, any number of things before I can actually get through this, can give themselves the space that they need.
[00:29:49] Melissa Hahn: to really work through it productively instead of rushing and possibly missing out on whatever it was that they could have learned.
[00:29:57] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah, no, good points. And, I was thinking while you were talking about, in so many countries, I want to say every country, but in so many countries, politics, is an element that they talk about, and we don’t have to talk about politics, believe me, that’s not the purpose, but it does seem to affect people in different countries, and if a person comes in from a foreign country, Well, does he or she understand what we are dealing with in our country, with our issues, et cetera.
[00:30:30] Siebe Van Der Zee: And again, this happens all over the world, but that’s an element that I think can be confusing as well, because it’s one thing to learn about cultures and behaviors, but then there are other elements in there. and again, especially during an election year, politics, obviously anywhere in any country are very important.
[00:30:48] Melissa Hahn: You know, maybe we could even say that being ambivalent is a good thing to be able to do in relationships. And I know that sounds surprising to people. Why would you want to be ambivalent in a relationship? But when you’re meeting people, you don’t know all their opinions yet or everything that, their whole life story.
[00:31:03] Melissa Hahn: So, the first thing you hear might not be the best indication of who that person really is. And just suspending our need to categorize them as in or out, of our life, I think, can be helpful. We can just let things play out instead of needing to take immediate action.
[00:31:17] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah. If you have, let’s say, the time for it in a conversation with people, of course, it works typically well to say, Melissa, tell me how you’re doing and what’s going on in your life, et cetera.
[00:31:30] Siebe Van Der Zee: But many times, it’s like, well, I’m calling you for a certain reason, or are we meeting for a certain purpose? And we don’t hear the other story that Perhaps keeps that person very busy in his or her mind, so there’s more to it.

Lesson 7: Let your light shine – and help others shine their light, too. 32:01

[00:31:43] Siebe Van Der Zee: I like the title for lesson number seven. Lesson number seven, let your light shine and help others shine their light.

[00:31:52] Siebe Van Der Zee: That sounds really good, Melissa, I like what you’re saying there, but what are your thoughts behind it?
[00:31:57] Melissa Hahn: So my thoughts behind it come from my work, of course, Crossing Cultures, and there is a, I think a misconception that if we are going to work across cultures, we have to hide who we are, that in order for me to work successfully with you, I should mask everything American.
[00:32:16] Melissa Hahn: about me because you won’t like that because you’re not from here, for example. And I think that there, there are some understandable reasons that people make that assumption, just like your question earlier about, well, what if I’m in Japan? Well, then clearly, I need to make some adaptation, but that’s different from completely eliminating.
[00:32:34] Melissa Hahn: myself from the equation. And what Andy and I found when we were working on our book is that there are some questions you can ask yourself to try to determine maybe how free you are in a given situation to show your full personality. But we always make adaptations. if I’m working with, I’m going to be a little bit different than if I’m hanging out with my best friend, or I’m talking to a grandparent, or I’m interacting with a neighbor at a community meeting.
[00:33:00] Melissa Hahn: There’s always different sides of ourselves that we can bring to the table. But what we don’t want to do is negate ourselves entirely because That’s going to be really demoralizing, it’s going to be hard to sustain, it fuels resentment, but then other people are also going to be missing out on what we have to offer.
[00:33:17] Melissa Hahn: By the same token, I think we want to be careful about not expecting people to remove themselves entirely from the relationship we have. either. We want to invite people to bring what they have to offer because otherwise, why would they be there? we want to really draw out people’s potential and people’s talents and people’s stories and their backgrounds so that we fully benefit from everything that the people around us can contribute.
[00:33:43] Siebe Van Der Zee: I’m thinking also, and it goes back a few decades, but I think it was Edward T. Hall that talked about low context and high context countries, where in certain countries there’s a lot of meaning derived from what’s not being said, purely the behavior. And there are countries, including the United States, where, no, just speak your mind.
[00:34:08] Siebe Van Der Zee: And there are countries, including my native country, the Netherlands, where we will tell you what you should be saying. You know what I mean? Right? So, the context sometimes is very direct, or it can be indirect. when you communicate with people, let’s say from Asia, do you approach them differently than when you deal with people from Western Europe?
[00:34:30] Melissa Hahn: So, what I, find works is for me to not think about it as if I’m becoming a different person, but I think about how can I show them who Melissa is, but in a different way. So, I, for example, being friendly and being approachable is important to me. I would find out how can I demonstrate that, and I might demonstrate that to a Dutch person or a German person differently than I would demonstrate that to somebody in Korea or China.
[00:34:59] Melissa Hahn: But I wouldn’t remove that part of myself entirely, it would just be a different question of how do I allow them to see that in me, knowing that They might not be looking for that in the same way because they come from a different culture.
[00:35:13] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah. Yeah. No, that’s a good point. I appreciate that.

[00:35:16] Lesson 8: Prioritize Taking Care of Yourself

[00:35:16] Siebe Van Der Zee: Lesson number eight, we’re making progress here. lesson number eight, prioritize taking care of yourself. How do you do that?
[00:35:23] Melissa Hahn: Well, it’s tricky because one of the things I’ve learned is that nobody ever turns to you and says, gosh, would you like to go take care of yourself? Now is a good time to do that.
[00:35:33] Melissa Hahn: But I think, there, there is a cognitive and kind of emotional load of trying to work on all these different cultural dimensions. It’s difficult to try to figure out where do my colleagues come from? What’s my background? How do I meet them where they are? How do we build these relationships together?
[00:35:51] Melissa Hahn: And that’s not even counting the actual work. That you’re doing, right, the work and the meetings and the projects, etc. So, I think one thing is really important is to schedule the time that you’re going to, rest and recuperate. It doesn’t have to literally be on your calendar, but to think about it as something to do.
[00:36:11] Melissa Hahn: That’s just important as all of your other tasks. Now, you might not be able to achieve a perfect harmony between work and relaxation, but I think it’s about recognizing that if you don’t do this, and that if you don’t make arrangements to do that yourself, that you’re going to start running on fumes, and then you won’t be able to achieve the goals that you’ve set for yourself, because you’ll be too tired.
[00:36:33] Melissa Hahn: so, I think trying to remember That all of this really does take work. Working across cultures can be fatiguing, and then knowing that you might need to accommodate your own self by having more time for rest. That’s what my clients have had to do as well, working in different countries, constantly being bombarded by different sort of stimuli and having to sort through it and make sense of it.
[00:36:55] Melissa Hahn: It just wears you out more than it would being in your own culture. So, Deciding, I’m going to take this day and I’m going to rest, or I’m going to go home every six months, or whatever it is that works for you, I think can really make a difference in allowing you to have a sustainable cross cultural approach, as opposed to just going full speed ahead until you crash.
[00:37:16] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah, no, it’s a wise lesson, but I have a hard time personally learning that lesson because, it is indeed, well, if from the United States, if I talk to someone, let’s say my friends in Australia with the podcast, that’s right now when 18 hour time difference, when I deal with, South America, it’s four or five hours when I deal with Europe, it’s eight or nine hours.
[00:37:40] Siebe Van Der Zee: I’m so used to it, but I appreciate your point as far as you have to set limits And, it’s, you’re absolutely right when you are involved in international relations, communication, business, it’s 24 hours, right? it’s the globe. and. I still find it difficult to, for myself to set limits, but I think it’s a good lesson that, as you say, prioritize taking care of yourself because it’s easy to say, well, yeah, okay, I have to get up really early or I got to work late at night, but it’s okay.
[00:38:15] Melissa Hahn: Sometimes we don’t have a choice, right? Sometimes it’s just the best thing. but I’ve started trying to let people know, I’m on an earlier time or I’m in a different time zone than you are. And I’d say, oh, the time you propose is actually 5am for me. do you have any wiggle room?
[00:38:30] Melissa Hahn: Is there a way that we could possibly do this, one or two hours later? They can’t. They’re also trying to accommodate other time zones, maybe in Asia, but I’ve tried to give myself permission just to ask, to see if there’s any possibility rather than immediately trying to accommodate whatever the timeframe is.
[00:38:47] Melissa Hahn: Just asking can often open up possibilities.
[00:38:49] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah, and maybe to plan ahead, right? To tell yourself, okay, next week or next month, I got to make sure, et cetera, that I allocate my time smarter than what I did last month, for example. So yeah, it’s good lesson. Good to know.

[00:39:05] Lesson 9: When Networking, Think About Connections not just Obtaining Info

[00:39:05] Siebe Van Der Zee: let’s move on to lesson number nine.
[00:39:07] Siebe Van Der Zee: When networking, think about making connections with people, not just obtaining business cards and sharing digital details. I love it. your thoughts, please.
[00:39:17] Melissa Hahn: this thought has two sides. One is for the people who are, really confident and really able to just go up and shake hands and exchange business cards, but then later find out that they don’t remember who they talk to,
[00:39:27] Melissa Hahn: And it’s also for the people who are afraid and hesitant to initiate those conversations. And I think for both sides of the spectrum, if you focus less on the task and you think more about, I’m just talking to a person, I think it becomes a lot more possible. And a lot more manageable, but also a lot more meaningful.
[00:39:47] Melissa Hahn: So, at a conference, I can probably only keep track of, I don’t know, a dozen or maybe two dozen people at most. I’m not going to remember everybody I met, and that’s okay. But if there are people that you talk to that you really feel like you’ve initiated a connection with, it can help to think about those people, not just what they are and what their job, who they are and what their job title is, but something that you remember from your interaction.
[00:40:10] Melissa Hahn: Maybe they mentioned that they came from a country that you want to go to, or maybe they mentioned that they too have kids, or that, you both shared a love of pasta over the banquet dinner, whatever it is, if you can make a note to yourself about what you talked about, even the smallest thing, when you get home from that networking event, if you want to follow up with them, now you have a starting place.
[00:40:33] Melissa Hahn: You have that little initial kind of seed that you’ve planted. of this very fledgling rapport. It’s not like you have a deep bond just because you exchanged this conversation, but it’s a first step towards getting to know them as a person. Now, in truth, only a very small percentage of all those people, even if you follow this technique, are really going to be lasting connections, but the ones that do then become lasting relationships, I think, are even more valuable because you did give them the nourishment that they needed.
[00:41:05] Melissa Hahn: So, I think that for people who are just collecting as many business cards as they can, thinking about it in terms of relationships will help them slow down and make relationships that count. But also, people who are afraid of the small talk moment, I think can diffuse that fear by recognizing that you’re not making brilliant conversation, you’re just saying hello, just say hello, and just get started.
[00:41:28] Melissa Hahn: And then pretty soon you will have a network that you can start to be proud of.
[00:41:32] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah, I like it. it’s in a way the softer side in the relationship. Uh, when people are dealing with issues and you meet them for a business meeting, but you find out that, that whatever, they have a child that, that needs to have a certain, attention, for whatever reason, is for that person at that moment the most important.
[00:41:53] Siebe Van Der Zee: And sure, we are here to talk business and, whatever, negotiate something. But if you forget about the human side and the fact that person is at that moment, in my example, taking care of a child, that is at the top of that person’s mind. And if you recognize that, chances are that person will say, I appreciate that you remember that you understand what I’m dealing with.
[00:42:18] Siebe Van Der Zee: And yes, let’s talk about the business and we move on. But that relationship building, it’s broader than just, like you say, exchanging business cards. So, it’s a very good example.

[00:42:28] Lesson 10: It Is Truly A Small World

[00:42:28] Siebe Van Der Zee: Can you believe we’re at lesson number 10, Melissa?
[00:42:31] Melissa Hahn: This is flown by, Siebe.
[00:42:32] Siebe Van Der Zee: I know. and I wish we had more time. but, lesson number 10, it is truly a small world.
[00:42:39] Siebe Van Der Zee: So, guard your reputation and close doors gently rather than burning bridges. Wow. good lesson, but tell me your thoughts, please.
[00:42:50] Melissa Hahn: Well, you can try to do everything right. You can really, you can think about the other person’s culture. You can try to give space to their personality. You can be curious about them.
[00:43:00] Melissa Hahn: You can build this relationship. You can really try hard, and things might not work out. people are difficult enough in our own culture, they can certainly be difficult to connect with when we’re talking about other cultures. And it’s, I think we should accept that not every relationship is going to be, permanent.
[00:43:17] Melissa Hahn: Sometimes people just come and go, especially in business. But what I try to do is imagine That the people I’m working with today might know the people I’m working with tomorrow. And the reason I say that is that it’s happened. my industries are very different, international relations, relocation, and, even in higher education.
[00:43:37] Melissa Hahn: And I am constantly surprised to see who actually knows who in these worlds that to me appeared very separate. And I’ve been grateful in retrospect to think, oh, I’m really glad that maybe I just bit my tongue or I just, took the professional way out of that moment I had with that person because I can now see that they’re connected to somebody else that I know.
[00:44:00] Melissa Hahn: And I wouldn’t want a bad experience with one person to undermine a potential future opportunity with another person. So, I don’t think that means that we tiptoe. I think it just means that it’s really good to remember that in our connected world that we never know which people might know which other people.
[00:44:19] Melissa Hahn: And so, we want to be interacting with people in a way that reflects what we hope our character, will be seen as by everybody, not just, how we’re feeling in the moment with that one person.
[00:44:30] Siebe Van Der Zee: There are situations, perhaps, where you are not comfortable, not happy with what that person has decided and how it impacts you.
[00:44:41] Siebe Van Der Zee: should you not push back, say something back, because he or she may be upset about the fact that you don’t agree with them?
[00:44:50] Melissa Hahn: I don’t think it’s about agreeing. I think it’s about deciding what your own. Style is going to be in trying to be consistent and have your own integrity. And of course, this is a personal as well as a cultural question.
[00:45:02] Melissa Hahn: But if I, let’s say I disagree with you Siebe, I might say, we, we could address that. I might say, oh, I think we disagree about this. Or I might say, I think that this project isn’t working for us. I think I’m going to; I’m going to stop working on this and I’m going to do something else.
[00:45:15] Melissa Hahn: Like you might have to have a conversation. And you might do that more or less directly, depending on your own background, but I think sometimes, I think what we don’t, we want to imagine our relationships as part of a broader web of relationships. And so, we want to be mindful that the way that we treat one person.
[00:45:35] Melissa Hahn: Isn’t just treating, that person has dignity, and we want to treat them that way, but also that they are connected to other people. So, I don’t think it’s about being afraid. I think it’s just about being, conscientious and savvy about what our overall reputation is and what our, what we become known for.
[00:45:54] Melissa Hahn: Really. So, if you are having a conflict with the person, I think that’s normal. you’re not going to be on the same page all the time, but I think we want to be thinking about, there’s no people who don’t count, I think that’s really what it’s about. There are no people who don’t count in our world.
[00:46:08] Melissa Hahn: We want to be treating people with dignity.
[00:46:11] Siebe Van Der Zee: And respect, right? Because it’s, I look at it sometimes and I realize that I can be quite direct with people. but over time. I have learned lessons where indeed, I need to say it a little bit more carefully, not because my mind says, this is ridiculous.
[00:46:31] Siebe Van Der Zee: No, that’s not the way to solve the problem. And I think also sometimes when there is disagreement, to listen, to deliberately listen to the other person, even if you disagree, but it can be very helpful to let him or her speak their mind on a certain topic. Maybe there’s something to learn. Maybe I still don’t agree, but at least you give the respect.
[00:46:52] Siebe Van Der Zee: And I think that’s what I see in your lesson as well. that, yeah, it is a small world in that sense. It’s definitely a small world. It’s a good lesson.
[00:47:00] Melissa Hahn: Yeah. If I could say one more thing, Siebe, it is why I think the relationships matter over the performance. If you’re focused on performing as if you’re on the same page, and then you might feel that you have to mask how you really feel, or you might have, you might feel that you can’t express yourself.
[00:47:17] Melissa Hahn: If there’s a relationship, even if we come from different cultures, I can say, you said that really directly, Siebe, or you might say, oh, Melissa, I might have come across really directly. let’s see if we can approach this in a different way. If you have the relationship, now you have the context in which you can be a more authentic version of yourself and in which you can constructively address places where things might have gone awry.
[00:47:40] Melissa Hahn: If you’re just trying to pretend that you’re on the same page, that’s really going to break down pretty quickly.
[00:47:46] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah, no, it’s a good point. And I had to think of a person I used to work for many years ago, and he was crude, and in the office, he would refer to me as a bastard. At the same time, I learned so much from him.
[00:48:03] Siebe Van Der Zee: And it was his style, it was his personality. But I am so grateful that I worked for that person. And it goes back to your point is that you have the respect. And even though the way he spoke, I don’t speak that way and I don’t like to speak that way, but the person and the relationship that we had was very solid.
[00:48:23] Siebe Van Der Zee: And it’s a great example of, indeed, we have to be in that sense, gentle. Also, when people are crude and rude, if we can rise above it, don’t let it affect us as individuals. wow. that, that can be very helpful indeed.
[00:48:40] Siebe Van Der Zee: Well, let me ask you, and we have now covered your 10 lessons, but is there perhaps a lesson in life, in your career, that you would say you have unlearned, decided like, that’s not the way to go anymore, I need to do it differently?
[00:48:55] Siebe Van Der Zee: Anything that comes to mind?
[00:48:56] Melissa Hahn: one of the, one of the lessons that I have unlearned is actually Maybe counterintuitive for somebody who does intercultural work. And one of the lessons is worrying about being a perfect culture crosser or being a perfect expat. before I went to Poland, I read all these things about all the things that irritate Europeans about Americans.
[00:49:18] Melissa Hahn: And I tried really hard not to do any of them. And I still try, not. to do these things. I try not to talk really loudly, or I try, not to, constantly, chime into all the conversations if it’s not called for. But I also found that what was written in advice books wasn’t necessarily how real people on the ground thought about me.
[00:49:38] Melissa Hahn: And I went to a conference, one time it was actually in Poland after I had been back in the US for a while. And there was a moment where I was in a small group discussion, and nobody was saying anything. And everybody was just waiting. And finally, I couldn’t take it anymore as an American. I wanted to have this discussion.
[00:49:55] Melissa Hahn: And so, I said, well, I don’t mean to be really American here, but I have something I can add. And one of the people said, oh, good, please go ahead. We don’t know what we want to say yet. So, they were happy, actually, to have this conversation. Somebody take the lead. So, something that I had read in a book was something not to do, was actually welcome in that context.
[00:50:16] Melissa Hahn: So, what I found was that we don’t need to try to hide the fact that we come from a culture. Everybody in the room could tell I wasn’t from Poland, and I spoke a little bit of Polish, but they could tell. So, I think what I realized was that I could actually try to selectively share my American culture.
[00:50:38] Melissa Hahn: Not to try to make everybody else come to me, but it was still something I had to offer. It wasn’t a deficit that I had to overcome. And I think the same thing comes from other cultures as well. one of my closest colleagues is Polish, and I always love the way she approaches her presentations and the way she works with clients who’ve done some projects together, because it’s different from what I have to offer.
[00:50:59] Melissa Hahn: And so, if she was trying to be me, then I would miss out on having her be her. So, I think Something that I’ve stopped doing is trying to cover up the fact that I have a culture and just allowing it to be part of who I am.
[00:51:11] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah, I like it. it makes me think and that name comes up in my mind from time to time.
[00:51:16] Siebe Van Der Zee: Socrates, the Greek philosopher,399 before Christ, so quite a while ago. But he talked about, as far as we know, about the concept. He said, I’m not from Athens. I’m not from Greece. I’m a citizen of the world. And like in your case, where you have, extensive global experience and have lived in other countries, and you put these cultural aspects in the mixer and say, okay, like you just said, yes, I’m American.
[00:51:45] Siebe Van Der Zee: And I would say proud to be American. And well. People in Poland may have a certain impression of stereotypical Americans, and at the same time, we are who we are, and when you can cross bridges and communicate with people, it’s not to say, well, because you talk to them, they became Americans. No, they are from, in this case, from Poland, and at the same time, I can see the curiosity to learn from you and your experience.
[00:52:15] Siebe Van Der Zee: As you indicated earlier, you learned from them and their experience. And that’s being a global citizen in my mind. And it’s a different story to talk about why people think that their culture, their country is the best. That’s a whole discussion for a different time. But the idea is that there are different countries and different cultures and how to cross.
[00:52:36] Siebe Van Der Zee: And what you’re talking about in your 10 lessons and definitely in your brand-new book, I think that’s something that, hopefully people around the world. can learn from. And I wish you a lot of good luck with your brand-new book and thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with our global audience.
[00:52:57] Melissa Hahn: Thank you, Siebe. It was a pleasure to be here.
[00:52:59] Siebe Van Der Zee: In closing I want to make a few remarks. You’ve been listening to our international program, 10 Lessons Learned. This episode is produced by Robert Hossary. And as always, we are supported by the Professional Development Forum. Our guest today is Melissa Hahn.
[00:53:15] Siebe Van Der Zee: Sharing her 10 Lessons Learned. Melissa is an author and an intercultural professional who helps people collaborate, adapt, and thrive across cultures. And to our audience, don’t forget to leave us a review or a comment. You can also email us at podcast@10lessonslearned.com.
[00:53:34] Siebe Van Der Zee: I hope you will subscribe so you don’t miss any future episodes. And remember, this is a podcast that makes the world wiser and wiser lesson by lesson. Thank you and stay safe.

 This episode is produced by Robert Hossary. Sponsored as always by Professional Development Forum. You can find the www.professionaldevelopmentforum.org you’ve heard from us we’d like to hear from you. Email us it’s podcast@10lessonslearned.com. Remember, this is the podcast the only podcast. That’s makes the world wiser lesson by lesson.

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