Archive for March, 2006

Group Coaching/Training for LLM and JD Students

Monday, March 27th, 2006

Format: One hour conference call led by Executive Coach  Janet Moore, with the first 20 minutes devoted to training on a career enhancing topic, such as career networking, interviewing skills, personal branding and the like.  The remaining 40 minutes are open for Q&A.

Fee: $30 per participant, payable in advance.

Number of participants: Minimum of 10, maximum of 20.

Dial in Instructions: Will be emailed the morning of the call to participants who have pre-paid.

Istanbul: Business Hotel Tip

Saturday, March 25th, 2006

Heading to Istanbul on business? If so, be sure and stay in one with a high-functioning business center. All of Istanbul’s business hotels are not created equal.

International lawyer William Morris, a partner in the Houston office of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer Feld LLP, reports that staying in the Swissotel The Bosphorus (www.istanbul.swissotel.com) makes all the difference. Bill explained, “They ran their business center around the clock for us, brought computers and a photocopier into the conference room for us and supported us like support staff in a major law firm.”  Bill even liked the food.

If you stay on for a few days of tourism, Bill recommends the Four Seasons Hotel conveniently located between the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque.

Happy travels.

Oops, You Forgot to Say “Buenos Dias”

Monday, March 20th, 2006

The little nuances make all the difference in intercultural communication.  Subtle gestures and courtesies “when they’re shared in a culturally sensitive and respectful way enhance communication.  However, work pressures can make us forget the courtesies and revert to our own cultural norms, unless we’re careful.

While in the International Practice Group of Baker Botts, I spent the fall of 1994 working as a foreign visiting attorney in the Mexico City offices of Santamarina y Steta.  One night I left the office still mulling over a complex legal problem.  The next morning I burst into the office of my Santamarina counterpart and gleefully proclaimed, “I’ve got the answer!”  I started to unravel the legal mystery when my counterpart held up his hand to silence me.  “Buenos Dias, Janet,” he said firmly, “How are you?”  I paused and smiled.  First things first.

We sat for a few moments exchanging pleasantries.  Only then could the work begin.

Lesson learned:  When in Rome¦

Address Touchy Subjects with Humor – but Carefully

Wednesday, March 15th, 2006

Cultural conflicts invariably arise. Instead of ignoring them, acknowledge them, directly or sometimes indirectly, as appropriate from your client’s cultural perspective.

However, just ignoring conflicts makes them loom larger than life. They can become an “elephant in the corner” and keep business from progressing.

If directly acknowledging the cultural divide feels uncomfortable, try breaking the ice with humor. Once as a young lawyer I went to the World Bank to represent a Pakistani businessman in important negotiations. Even though he was a seasoned, international businessman, he certainly was not expecting that a junior, female attorney would represent him.

When I met my client, I immediately sensed his discomfort. Silence fell as we waited in the conference room. Finally, my client asked in a puzzled voice, “Recently when I have come to the U.S, I have always been assigned a female lawyer. Why is that?” In a straightforward manner I replied, “Well, I guess that’s because we’re just smarter.”

My client looked at me with surprise – and then we broke into uproarious laughter. From then on our meeting became relaxed and productive.

Humor can backfire, so use it judiciously. The more that you know about your client’s background and cultural norms the better, because Western humor doesn’t always translate… Good luck!

Reduce Clothing Wrinkles

Friday, March 10th, 2006

I remember landing in Bogota minutes before an important meeting. I opened my luggage to retrieve my business clothes and found that they were horribly wrinkled. And there was no time to have them pressed.

Next time, I learned to pack smart and minimize wrinkles.

Hanging garments on individual hangars and covering each one with a separate plastic drycleaning bag really reduced wrinkles. This works especially well with wool and silk items. When you fill your suitcase, lay your garments gently in the bag, don’t crush or tightly fold them.