Monday, 18th November 2013, Groningen - I get a last minute place to attend the International Partners Universities Event (IPUE) at Hanze University of Applied Sciences, Netherlands. I was extremely interested in attending this event because IPUE would be hosting as Keynote Speaker Sir Professor Geert Hofstede - Knight of the Netherlands Kingdom and one of the most influential management thinkers of the 20th century as ranked by The Wall Street Journal. Hofstede is without a doubt one of the brightest minds in the field of Intercultural Communication ever.
Professor Hofstede's speech on his "Cultural Dimensions and respective effects on communication patterns" was - to say the least - very inspirational and clarifying. It is impressive how he deeply understands national cultures in relation to its influence over communication patterns and present it in such a simple way. Hofstede makes possible for us to understand how national cultures may affect communication patterns and it is likely that the cultural dimensions become evident after we study his theories and compare to our own international experiences.
"Intercultural contacts are often violent and are as old as humankind", said Professor Hofstede referring to the innumerable intercultural encounters that resulted in conflict & wars throughout human history. "However, it is possible to learn successful nonviolent intercultural approaches", he added.
Hofstede's Cultural Dimensions have been used as essential theoretical background on Intercultural Communication by scholars & practitioners from all around the world for decades and continue to be essential literature in the current times.
Hofstede lecture at Hanze University, Groningen
Hofstede pointed to some of the characteristics an individual needs to be considered a "world citizen", which are as follows:
- Having worked in more than one country
- Having suffered culture shock and learned from it
- Intelectual curiosity including interest on history, geography, literature
- Stability, tolerance for the unexpected
- Recognising cultural differences between societies
- Recognising one's own cultural programming
- Mastering at least one other language
- Understanding different communication styles
After the enlightining speech at Hanze University, a selected group of students, scholars & University staff were invited to have dinner with Professor Hofstede and his wife in the city centre of Groningen - luckily, I was one of those.
I had the invaluable opportunity to talk to Professor Hofstede tête-à-tête for nearly half an hour about Brazilian national and regional sub-cultures, among other interesting subjects. It was a big inspiration to be seated beside such a genius but also quite interesting to see how such an internationally recognised personality can be such a caring & considering person. He is indeed a very special gentleman, gifted with the ability of seeing what everybody experiences but perceiving what most never did - and, moreover, transforming his findings into simple and didactic theories & frameworks.
Flavio Oliveira and Professor Hofstede at t' Feith Huis - Groningen/NL
Monday 18th November 2013 will remain in my memory as a precious moment in time spent in the company of Professor Hofstede, his lovely wife Mrs. Maike Hofstede and other special people in a great setting - "echt gezelligheid"! This dinner was idealised by Mrs. Iekje Smit (Chairwoman of the Master in International Communication - Geert Hofstede Consortium, a joint MA programme that carries the Professor's name and from which I have graduated in July 2013) and well organised by Kirth Ramoutar (MIC graduate) - my big thanks to you guys for such an unforgettable evening.
~ keep on smiling :)