La crisis española desde un punto de vista diferente

For those who when heard the word ‘crisis’ have automatically tended to associate it with Spain and for those who are interested in Spain anyway :-) Luckily, Spain is not all about the crisis! Not even all about football! And especially not all about the Macarena song :-) It’s a lot more than these things! Spain actually has the 2nd highest tourism revenue in the world! Second only to the United States! Only last year the country has had 57million visitors, more than its population which is only 46million! And that figure is very likely to increase even higher the next year! Did you know that 30% of its energy consumption comes from renewable energies?! That it’s the No1 leading country in installed solar energy and the 4th largest in using wind energy?! The below video keeps on sharing a lot more other interesting facts about Spain you may have not known until now! As always, all it takes to see things differently is to shift your perception :)


Hints and Tips for understanding the Korean corporate culture

Being a high-context culture as Korea it comes with many highs and lows. Just as much as for low-context cultures :) However, most importantly, there are certain things for which one should prepare him/herself having decided to come here since Korea is classified as a high-context country.

But what does it really mean?

A high-context culture often has the following characteristics:

· Collectivist (not individualist)

· Loyal (not independent)

· Hierarchical (not egalitarian)

· Relationship oriented (not information oriented)

· Haggling culture (not argument culture)

As a Confucian Culture, people respect authority, duty, hierarchical relationship and seniority.

Their communication is implicit as well as indirect; their value relationship and status over task and performance. Their goal is to maintain harmony in their organizational life.

They easily get emotional and embarrassed and they do take each other’s feelings into account as opposed to Westerners who are usually more logical and impersonal and tend to separate business from personal life.

When negotiating, Koreans are more the listener types while westerners are more of the lecturing types. When having business meetings, Koreans prefer seeking ways of building and fostering relationships instead of going for the bottom lines (results and numbers) only.

They almost never talk about business while eating, not like in the West when they often hold business lunches or dinners. Nevertheless, Koreans do like to drag the meetings on for(ever) very long hours hence counterparts should always be prepared with a great deal of patience when dealing with them.

It is also usual for Koreans to place trust outside of signing a contract! Oral agreement is taken very seriously here, actually more trusted than written! This is one of the cultural differences that can cause a lot of misunderstandings for westerners who only trust a written agreement or contract. To Koreans, the final contract is actually less important then the strength of the relationship between the two parties and that’s what usually Americans fail to understand. (See the example of Wal-Mart leaving the country last October).

Koreans also tend to avoid conflicts so as not to ruin the atmosphere. Maintaining harmony is extremely important for them. They often give positive answers to avoid upsetting anyone. Therefore saying `YES` in a negative answer means `I heard you but not necessarily agree with you`. They never tell you `NO` or would disagree with you for that matter. Non-verbality is also one of the important traits of their communication while western communication is more word-based.

Delaying their responses simply happens not to end up giving the wrong answer, unlike westerners who bound to deliver quick responses at the risk of being wrong.

Giving bad news is usually put off until the afternoon so as to have a calm morning :)

They also stay away from lengthy eye contact as it is a sign of disrespect.

I reckon that one of their biggest weaknesses is time-management unfortunately – as mentioned already a couple of times in my previous posts. Punctuality does not play an essential role in their lives and they just simply don’t seem to observe time or keep track of it. Meetings and agendas therefore often seem to be simply fluid.

Not only is their society hierarchical but their language structure as well. The Korean structure forces the importance of titles and seniority, who is older or whose title is higher which generally affects all aspects of Korean life.

When meeting someone the first time it is polite to hand out business cards usually using both hands or with your right hand with the left supporting your right elbow. Same with accepting business card or present: you can accept it with using both hands and one while the other supporting your elbow and it is the same when accepting a present or anything else for that matter.

Entertaining and being entertained is also an essential part of building a close relationship with Korean counterpart. For males, ritual drinking is a traditional way to get to know each other and it is even appropriate to drink heavily?!… This is also an opportunity to deepen the relationship and learn more about them. (Moreover, they become much more relaxed and talkative;)

Characteristics of a Korean worker:

· is always willing to go the extra miles and do overtimes to complete the task he’s responsible for

· usually dresses in dark suit

· can be called on duty even when it’s a public holiday

· always puts personal mobile number on his business card regardless whether he has his own business or work for a big company

· will never criticize the employer – at least not in public.

Hopefully, putting together these information will provide others a better understanding of the Korean (corporate) culture.

Something that is hard to adjust to…

In the past couple of days we’ve been amusing everyone around us by having already started to organize our summer vacation :) I know June seems rather remote but in my mind it’s never too early to start the preparation of a good holiday :) Frankly speaking, I’m not the last minute kind of person – and yes, probably backpacking would not be my cup of tea either…but that’s just fine by me. Anyway, as I was saying, we usually get on with organizing every details fairly early. This is just the way we like it. However, in Korea, people are not like us at all. For instance, most travel agencies do not even have a price-list for early June in mid February. Therefore there is no way we could get a quote for a package tour to Singapore just as yet. Yesterday when I called a travel agency, the lady on the phone kindly told me to give her a ring back end of March. That’s the soonest she can provide us with any help regarding our June holiday..
In fact, `spur of the moment` would more describe the Korean’s attitude than anything else. They like to decide things the last minute or even after ;) They don’t arrange things in much advance or prepare anything for that matter. This is actually how we often end up in situations like the following:
We’re just about to leave the office, locking our cabinets, already in our coat ready to leave:
-Korean colleagues (Kc): Hey, there is a dinner party tonight and you must come!
-Me: TONIGHT??? I mean, pls be serious! Why can’t you just tell me in a day advance?!
They’re all giggling…
-KCs: it’s impossible! that’s the Korean way!
-Me: But I’ve already got plans for tonight so I’m very sorry but I can’t join you this evening.

Reflecting total lack of flexibility……but they get it. They always do…
I’ve tried to ask them to give me a day notice before inviting me to any kind of events (Am really not being unreasonable here, haven’t said them to give a week notice…all I’m asking is one day!) Pointless….They still insist it is not possible. They can only let me know about any events 5 mins before anything is about to happen…
Tho I`d seriously like to find a common ground in this matter as this is not going to work like this I’m afraid. We, by no means, intend to offend them or seem to be rude. However, we like to plan ahead. Of course sometimes we can go along with the `spur of the moment` spirit but not every time…
Even if there`s an important meeting they don`t seem to bother mentioning it until the very last minute. No-one seems to use the calendar to schedule meetings or send invitations for that matter. Let alone ask around if the time is suitable for everyone. Everything is a given here that you just have to accept if you’re a Korean. If not, than it certainly takes ‘whatever time’ to adjust…




Mobility level in Hungary

Is the Hungarian working population flexible enough to venture abroad or rather staying home and sinking into provincialism? According to studies only 1-2% of the working population has decided to work abroad since Hungary has joined the EU. Although, there are no exact data but it is kinda obvious that mobility of the workers is relatively low in the country in comparison with other neighboring countries such as Poland, Slovakia, Bulgaria or Romania. But to be fair, apart from the recent turmoil, economic situation is not as bad in Hungary as many people like to describe it.

Nevertheless, most Hungarians are reluctant even to move from one part of the country to another. They’re clinging to their properties and other belongings. Cutting off themselves from possible opportunities they create their own limitations. Most of them can’t help but staying where they grew up as they feel that’s the only place to where they belong for the rest of their lives.

On the other hand, language problem seems to be another reason of immobility. Tho, there are people whose professions go with certain level of language requirements so those people tend to be more flexible. And in those professions where there is a chance of finding suitable positions elsewhere than Hungary migration has already been taking place.

But above all things, it is vital that Hungarians realize that for the sake of the Hungarian economy as well as for their own good they need to be more open to the world, to take the opportunity that arises so as to avoid letting the country turn into an introverted and provincial nation. Hungarians should know what happens in the rest of the world and not only from news portals or newspapers as they might end up getting the wrong impression and make judgements by only what`s written in there. Saying that you have no option is usually just a convenient excuse to get out of it and make the blame on outer circumstances …
We are the ones who create our own limitations and we are the ones who can change that! The future depends on what we do in the present. Don’t throw your chances away! If you have the courage and stamina, get up and go to see & experience the World! There’s an amazing World out there that’s waiting for everyone of you :)))

Lunar New Year

Although you can feel Valentine`s still hanging in the air, next occasion to celebrate is just around the corner. Lunar New Year`s Day is this Sunday!
Thank God we get to celebrate New Year once again this year! These sort of events definitely make winter go a lot faster. And the best part is that we`re gonna have a long weekend! February is just flying by….
On the other hand, ever since Valentine`s day we don`t seem to have run out of rice cakes and redbean filled cookies in the office. Someone always keeps the stock filled up. The good news is that I`m also getting better digesting these bean stuff :) The bad news that not only the danishes and cookies are filled with sweet bean but some of the ricecakes  too :( Tho luckily you can hardly taste it in them due to their high level of sugar :D
…by the way, yesterday, I stayed a bit longer as I did not want to lose one of my `precious` CV searches that I made on and I just wanted to finish up reviewing all the CVs before I went home. So anyway, it was around 6:15pm when they turned to me and ask if I wanted to go for dinner with them??? me – Now??? them – There will be a lot of soju! me – Sooo??? (shouldn`t they have noticed by now that I’m not big fan of drinking soju) So sadly, I skipped this one too…Finally, they`d have left after 7pm and probably drunk until `who knows what time`…and for me to get home is more than an hour from here, plus it was already getting `late`, like dark late kkkk Next time, however, I can`t dodge another one too so I`ll go with the flow and show more flexibility.
Unfortunatelly, giving me any sort of notice as when they`d plan their next event is still not an option so it seems. They said 30 min notice the best offer they can provide. What can I do?
Nevertheless, chocolates have proved to be far the best means of bribery in this country :) So this morning I set off with special Hungarian chocolates that I was hiding on one of the top shelves at home.
There is one thing You should know about Koreans that there is no man, but I mean NONE in this country who would ever refuse chocolate, bonbons or any kind of sweets. `And thanks to the chocolate they have probably even forgiven me for not having participated in `this week nighty activities`.`

Elevator episode

The following episode took place in one of the elevators after lunch today.
We were all standing in front of the elevator waiting for it to come when two foreign faces showed up in the queue. One of my Korean colleagues jumped right out to greet them then they started chatting. Okay, I know, up until now, nothing unusual occurred. But all of a sudden, we realised that they were not speaking English but some other Eastern European language. As it turned out HS, my colleague, speaks fluent Polish and the two guys he was talking to were indeed from Poland! They’ve got some project they’re working on here in the headquarters.As it turned out later, HS majored in Polish linguistic and he lived in Poland for almost 2 years. It was funniest thing to hear a Korean speak a Slavic language a lot better than English!
Incredible things turn out every day but I’ve lost track of them so I can’t recall every single story…
Anyway, where was I? So we were in the elevator when the three of them were still chatting in Polish and all my peers were looking HS enviously – but in a friendly way – and wished they could speak a unique language like him. Then they all turned to me begging to teach them a few words in Hungarian so they can show off with something special too :) So I taught them a few basics and now they’re very proud to say the followings: szia, sziasztok, magyar…this is as far as we could get during an elevator ride :)