Navigating Cultural Differences | Rajesh Kumar


Business is more international than ever…

Meaning that leaders NEED to work cross-culturally.

But what does it take to build trust across cultures that have different ways of doing business?

Dr. Rajesh Kumar is the CEO and Founder of Global Strategic Advisory, where he helps international brands navigate cross-cultural differences and avoid billion-dollar mistakes.

In this episode, he’ll discuss the ins and outs of cross-cultural negotiations and how leaders can cultivate a global mindset.

Mentioned in this episode:


Rajesh Kumar: We are all individuals in different ways, you know, we are trying to really achieve the same thing. We are united by the fact that, you know, we are all part of this humanity. But I think, you know, once you recognize the inherent similarity, then I think it’ll be easier to deal with those differences.

Voiceover: You’re listening to the Build a Vibrant Culture podcast with professional speaker, coach and consultant Nicole Greer.

Nicole Greer: Welcome, everybody to the Build a Vibrant Culture podcast. My name is Nicole Greer, and they call me the vibrant coach and I am here with none other than Rajesh Kumar, Dr. Rajesh Kumar, and he is a CEO and founder of an organization called Global Strategic Advisory. He helps international brands navigate across cross cultural differences and avoid, don’t miss this everybody, multibillion dollar expansion mistakes. Please welcome to the show. How are you?

Rajesh: Thank you, I’m good Nicole. Good to be here.

Nicole: Yeah, great to be with you. And I love being with people who care about culture as much as I do. I think that we’re gonna have a fantastic talk. But you know what I’m doing, I am collecting definitions of leadership. So I want to know, right out of the gate, what is your definition of leadership?

Rajesh: So I would define leadership as actually doing the right thing. As actually leading, rather than following other trends. So for me, I think leadership is, is about having the conviction and the courage and the commitment to do what is the most appropriate.

Nicole: So I love your three C’s conviction, courage and commitment. Everybody write that down.

Rajesh: Yes. And, and what I see is that very often people are swayed by the winds of what’s happening externally, or internally, and they lose that inner compass. And that inner compass is about, you know, what is most relevant? What is most appropriate? So that’s my particular definition. I mean, there’s so many definitions of leadership.

Nicole: Yes, absolutely. But I think yours is fantastic. I love it. Yeah. So I’m going to compile all these. And we’re going to do something with him. That’s fantastic. Well, you have a really interesting expertise. You teach leaders in companies that are international how to cross the boundaries of the globe. So I want to hear about that. What what do leaders who are going to do business around the world, need to know?

Rajesh: I think there’s the couple of things. Firstly, they need to have a sense of awareness, in terms of differences, in terms of understanding diversity, which is absolutely critical. Because, you know, without that sense of awareness and self knowledge, it is hard to actually initiate any particular action. Now, of course, in recent years, a lot of companies that have started their DEI programs. And so I think there is that awareness that is probably building. But I think historically, I think that has been an issue. So we’ve often employed an American mindset, to look at other situations. And I think that can certainly, if you’re doing business globally, can cause lots of challenges and problems.

Nicole: So could you share a story of how you have seen somebody take an American mindset towards an international opportunity and messed it up because of that. Maybe you should change the names to protect the innocent or something. But could you kind of tell us what, what could go wrong if we don’t have a more global mindset?

Rajesh: Okay. And I would say before I do before I give you a story, I would say that I think this is a phenomenon that is present in all cultures. So even Indian, French or German companies have that same particular problem and that same set of issues. Yes. So I can give you an example of a company that actually went to India a long, long time ago, and they tried to negotiate in the typical American fashion. Yes. And, you know, I think one of the challenges is that they did not realize that their own assumptions may not be valid in a different cultural context. And ultimately, I think it gets down to the issue of assumptions that we make, and assumptions are not something that we are conscious of. Yes. 

So they assumed that because was the country needed X product X, that they would be willing to pay any amount of price for it. Yes. But that was misleading. That’s a wrong assumption. Yes, you and certainly for India, which is a very price sensitive market, I think that is very, very critical. And then, you know, and so they thought that, you know, we are doing country a big favor, which again reflected a certain kind of arrogance. And it did not sit well with people in that particular country. And so ultimately, they put a lot of effort they, they had a lot of support, but eventually the project collapsed.

Nicole: Yeah. And, you know, one thing I read about on your website, and hey, everybody, you can check, Dr. Kumar, he’s out at He’s actually got an article on his website, on the roles of assumptions in cross cultural negotiations. So that’s why it’s probably top of mind for him. Yeah. So these people made assumptions and like, hey, everybody listening, we know what assume means, right? You make an ass out of you and me, like, you all know, that I’ll just tell you. And that sounds like what happened. He was arrogant. And they’re like, listen, we’re not dealing with this arrogant person.

Rajesh: Right. You know, I think they ended up in a in a kind of a negative vicious circle. So you know, so one assumption is, and more concretely, I will explain that as so typically you’re taught that if you’re doing something which has very high risk, you need high return. Yes. So you need the compensation for the extra risk. But we can look at it other way around as well, which is that if you expect and want a high rate of return, maybe that’ll lead to greater risk. And so that’s exactly what happened in this case. And the perception was that this company was benefiting a lot. And and the other country was not. So I’ve seen this happening in a number of different situations. And I can give you other examples as well.

Nicole: Okay. Well, here’s my next question is, so let’s say that I am going to negotiate with a country and a company that I know could benefit me. I know that the relationship would be valuable to both of us. But I do not know, the cultural differences. So obviously, I could hire you to consult on this deal. But what, you know, how if I wanted to figure out what to do on my own, how do I go about figuring out the cultural differences that might exist? And how do I get myself kind of savvy around all that?

Rajesh: You know, I think if you have no clue, then you have to go to a consultant. Alternatively, if you have people in your network, who know about that particular culture, who have connections in that country, that is absolutely very, very important. So for example, in China, it’s very hard to do business unless you don’t develop guanxi, which is now someone who can actually introduce you. So I think introductions are important and all everywhere, in terms of business relationships. But certainly, I think, more collectivistic cultures that take on supreme importance, and you’ve got to you got to spend time in terms of relationship building, and which means you spend a lot of time socializing, entertaining, and you know many Americans think, that’s a waste of time. And so they want to get down to business straight off. And in many cultures, that does not work. 

And, and again, the assumption is of the mistaken assumption is that that business is about, you know, talking about the nature of the deal, the specific contracts and all of it. But what is missing here is the recognition that even socializing is really a way of parties trying to assess each other. Can I trust you? Can they trust me? Are we comfortable with their particular style of doing business? So and then, and then collectivistic cultures that becomes extremely important. So you’ve got to have the cultural sensitivity, because otherwise I think you might you know, create problems and then trying to rectify that deal. Rectify that mistake will cost you a lot of time and money.

Nicole: Right, right. So, you know, I love what you’re saying. So there’s, there’s the nature of the contracts, there’s the actually getting down to business talking about the numbers. But before any of that happens, you’re telling me that we got to socialize, assess each other and build trust, get comfortable with each other. Yeah. So you know, I think about that. And so tell me about building trust, what, what are the ones that you find, what skills does a leader need to have to build trust, maybe in a lot of cultures or across cultures?

Rajesh: All right, that’s a big one. And I think they and in different cultures, there might be different demands. But I think fundamentally, you’ve got to be very open, to begin with, to add to enter an interaction with an open mind. Because you know, you’re not really using your own preconceptions as to or relying on stereotypes, which are, which can be extremely misleading. So there might be some element of truth in a stereotype. But you have to realize that every situation that you’re entering into is very unique. And you have the personalities of individuals and all of it, and the context of the interaction. So I think open mindedness is certainly very, very important. 

Second, I would say is, you’ve got to have patience, because things are going to take time. And of course, Americans are very goal oriented, very focused on getting things done in an expeditious way. But that’s not how the rest of the world actually operates. And so you’ve got to allow, certainly, if it’s a project, which is very, very important for you, I think you’ve got to be patient. Do not rush things. It can, with that, yeah, it can actually cause problems. And the third thing I would say is that have a sense of curiosity, you know, and because I think that is very, very important in terms of, you know, having the motivation to understand where the people are coming from, what their backgrounds are, and all of that. And this notion of curiosity, I’ve noticed it myself, when I interviewed Japanese managers way back in the mid 80s, late 80s, when I was doing my dissertation, they would spend hours with me. 

So I interviewed both American and Japanese managers, but for, for the Japanese as I sensed, they were as interested in learning from me, as I was interested in getting information from them. So typically, I remember there was one meeting that lasted for four hours. Whereas the American managers, they’re very professional, courteous, but it was 30, 45 minutes or thereabouts. So you see a difference in perspective, a difference in attitude. And this role of curiosity was also brought to my attention. I was talking to a Dutch expatriate who’s lived in Japan for many years. And and he was saying, yeah, Japanese are extremely curious people. And so and so you’ve got to have the motivation and the willingness to understand a different kind of people coming from a different cultural background.

Nicole: Yeah, I love everything you’re saying. Okay, so I just want to recap what you just said. So the listeners get it. So you know, this thing of slowing down, assessing the situation and building trust is of utmost importance if you’re doing international relationships with different companies. Number one, open mindedness. Try to park your stereotypes on the curb before you go in. Yeah, everybody’s unique. Everybody’s got a different personality. Be patient, and then have a sense of curiosity. I just love that. Yeah, I, I have I have a client, her name is Amy. And she traveled to Italy. And she was she had never been. 

And so she was with a company called Bank of America, which I’m sure you’ve heard of. And she traveled when she traveled there, she said, like, we would like, you know, are we going to talk about you know what we’re going to do? And they’re like, no, we’re going to have lunch first. And then it was this two hour lunch and then they were having her drink wine. She’s like, how am I gonna you know, negotiate anything while I’ve had three glasses. Because if you don’t drink it, they’re like drink it, drink it.

Rajesh: Same thing is same thing in Mexico, for example, again, same thing. And so what you have to recognize is that that’s part of business as well. It’s not something that is separate from business. You really got to, got to got to have the feel and, and really, and really be open to the new experiences that are going to await you. Do not use your own complaint.

Nicole: And she had a wonderful time. I mean, like, you know, when she looked back now that she looks back at it, she’s like, why, you know, why couldn’t I just relax, you know, and enjoy this, you know? So, so really, really great. And you know, one thing that’s coming to me while you’re you’re talking, Dr. Kumar is this idea of like, going a little bit deeper with people, when you were talking about the Japanese manager who gave you all this time, it seems like when you go deeper, it’s better? So why is it better?

Rajesh: Well, so I think one thing is that when you go deeper, you get to really understand. I mean, that’s true in any relationship, isn’t it? And so, you know, you have to go deeper to really get a feel for the other person and for the other person to feel you. And that is what also leads to connection. So in the US, we often talk about it in the context of personal relationships, where you’re looking for that emotional attunement. Yes. So what I would say is that, that in business relationships, it’s not exactly the same, but there has to be a certain degree of emotional attunement as well. Which is do like you, do I respect you, do I trust you? Because you know, if I think those particular parameters are not there, I think, you know, it may have problems. So the similarity is not 100%. But I think there is a certain component of it. That should come into business relationships as well.

Nicole: Yeah, absolutely. So he’s what he’s talking about everybody. Emotional, attunement. It’s, you know, what we call EQ, emotional intelligence, right? So trying to understand and dial in attunement, dial in to what other people are all about. And I love that, you know, one of the questions I ask people, all the time executives that I coach, I say, what is it like to experience you? And this question, often oftentimes flummoxes as people, but it’s kind of like, you know, you have to realize you’re not going to do good business, internationally, nationally, locally. If you aren’t somebody, like you said, who is likable, respectable and trustworthy? I mean, these are very important thing, right? Yes, yeah. 

Now, at the same time, while every individual we meet is unique, you have a wonderful quote on your website that I wrote down, because I’m going to, I’m going to share it with people because I think it’s really great. So we’re all different. However, this is what Dr. Kumar says, he says cultural differences should be managed through the prism of similarity. While cultural differences exist and will not go away, one has to recognize that amidst the differences, there is a similarity that emerges from the fact that we are all human. The recognition of this is essential, don’t miss that everybody, essential, non negotiable, if one is to manage the differences productively. Oh, my God, I thought that was so good. I love it. So, so talk about managing through the prism of similarity. What do you mean by that?

Rajesh: What I mean is that, you know, we are all individuals in different ways, you know, we are trying to really achieve the same thing, we are united by the fact that, you know, we are all part of this humanity. So it is this oneness. And so it is kind of a spiritual concept in a way, which I’m, you know, which I’m borrowing from, but I think, you know, once you recognize the inherent similarity, then I think it will be easier to deal with those differences. So, typically, what happens is that, when individuals do not have a recognition of that, they see a difference, and they get flummoxed, you know. How could they be so different, how could they be so rude? How could they do this, right? And so you focus then on the negatives, rather than actually on the positive. And in any relationship, I believe, I think you need to accentuate the positive rather than focus on the differences.

Nicole: Absolutely otherwise it’s gonna be miserable. And you’re not going to find it. Well, it’s this thing of finding common ground.

Rajesh: Exactly. That’s correct. Yes, yes. Yeah.

Nicole: Yeah. Yeah. And, and, you know, I think the thing where, you know, I was saying that, you know, people want to entertain, they want to go to dinner, I was talking about Amy and the Italian business that she was meeting with wanted her to go to lunch before they ever did anything. Because here’s, here’s the, here’s the common ground. Here’s the similarity. I mean, everybody likes to eat good food.

Rajesh: Yeah, that’s correct. That’s right.

Nicole: I mean, I don’t know a human on planet Earth doesn’t want to sit down to a nice plate of tasty something.

Rajesh: Typically, what happens for people here as they’re going on a business trip. They’re away from their family, they want to finish, do it as soon as possible and return home, right right? So I think for them, then all of this becomes a waste of time. Right? They say, why can’t we just, why can’t we just deal with the issue at hand? But the fact is that in other cultures, the people take out time.

Nicole: And, you know, if you just think about business in general, yeah. Why would you not want to develop a deep, long lasting relationship? So you have a continued opportunity to do business, generate revenue, whatever it is you’re doing? You know, it just really doesn’t make any sense not to do it another way, just in terms of like, if I think about me giving customer service to my clients. Yeah, I try to, I try know them and love them as much as I can. That way, they stick with me, right?

Rajesh: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. But, yeah, you know, and I think, you know, you’ve really hit the nail on the head, because this is the attitude that Asian companies basically have. So they want to do business for the longer term. And not necessarily for the short term. Yes. So here, right, you know I think it becomes difficult because people, there’s a very high degree of job mobility in the US. So people are moving from one company to another. So there isn’t that sense of loyalty. Whereas if you take a look, traditionally, Japanese companies, people rarely moved. So you know, different incentives. So, you know, this is a country all about making money, whereas other countries are less so.

Nicole: Okay. Yeah. And, you know, I appreciate the American standpoint that like, let’s make money because it makes life, it makes life nice to get a roof over your head. Yeah, that good plate of food in front of you and all that. Yeah. But I do think I have, I have a mentor, Dr. Kumar, and her name’s Anne and she, and I, and my personality is a go, go, go kind of personality. And, but she tells me all the time, you got to slow down to the speed of your soul. And I’m like, oh, okay. So this idea of, you know, being a little bit more I like the word you used earlier, spiritual about things, you know, like, you know, understanding, you know, we’re all on this one planet together, we’re stuck with each other, why not get to know and appreciate each other, right? Yeah, absolutely. That oneness is so so important.

Rajesh: I’ll just give you an example. So the pays of CEOs in America are much, much higher than that in Europe, for example, in Asia. Huge difference. And, and you know, and I think that itself tells you something, right. And then it’s interesting, I think, that 40 years ago, the difference between the CEO salary and the worker was much less than what it is now. So the point is simply that you know, that you have, you know, different cultures, you get motivated by different things.

Nicole: Yeah, absolutely. And I was just having this conversation with a client earlier, about what motivates people. I mean, we like to do research, I know you, you’ve done your research, you’ve got your PhD, and you know, all about the research. And, and it’s good to do research, and that will tell us kind of some ideals or maybe prove that the hypothesis is more true than false or false than true, whatever. But we never really know the answer. You know what I mean? Like, you know, there are very few absolute truths on planet earth.

Rajesh: That is, that is correct. Yes.

Nicole: So people are motivated by all different things.

Rajesh: Yeah. So you know, I’ve lived in Europe for about 15 years. I lived in Denmark for nine years and England for six years, and I also spent time in Finland and France. You know, you don’t talk about money in Europe. It’s not something that you openly discuss. And, and you see that in, in, in various ways. Salaries are much lower. You know, as I was telling someone the other day about Europe, I said, you’re gonna have a very comfortable life living in Denmark, for example, but you will not be able to accumulate millions or trillions.

Nicole: Unless you write a best seller, or work some angles.

Rajesh: You know, I mean, yeah, so that’s in Europe is concerned, you know, so different places have different orientations, in terms of what they value.

Nicole: Right. And I don’t think Dr. Kumar is saying that if you want to make a bunch of money and you love living in America, that’s a bad thing. I think, what he’s saying is just be aware that people have different perspectives. And that awareness can help you manage manage yourself inside of the, the conversation and you know, I give this quote all the time, Dr. Kumar, I got it from my master coach, he said, uncommunicated expectations are a premeditated opportunity to be disappointed. And so what we’re saying here is, you know, don’t set some kind of expectation through your lens only, so that you end up being disappointed, you know, have that open mindedness, patience.

Rajesh: Absolutely, absolutely.

Nicole: Now, now, some people have only done one, thing lived in one area, experienced one thing. And so when they think about doing something international, doing some international business, dealing with somebody from a different culture, they get, they might be fearful or have anxiety, and you talk about that also on your website. So what what can you do to kind of manage your fear and your anxiety of stepping into that unknown culture? What can you do?

Rajesh: The first thing is to recognize that you will experience anxiety. So just the expectation, or the recognition that this might happen, actually, is going to calm you down? Yes. Second, I think if you have connections in that culture, you have the right people who can guide you, who can, whether they are consultants, or whether they are part of your network, or they are friends of friends, I think you need social support. And that social support will also help in terms of reducing anxiety. And the third, as you mentioned, Nicole, is a question of expectations, you know, just just go with an open mind. Be open to all kinds of experiences. And people are open to all kinds of experiences here, and it’s just, you’re, you’re just adding another layer, in terms of what a new experience might be.

Nicole: That’s right, that’s right. You know, my, my one daughter, she went on a exchange, and she went to Fiji. And okay, she went to Fiji on exchange, and I’m like, you know, so the first thing I think of is beaches, and sand, and all this kind of stuff. And all of that was there. But but, you know, my daughter really came back a changed person. She, and then she ended up going to Nicaragua several times, you know, and I think that the thing about, you know, if you can get past the fear anxiety, you can step out, you know, it makes you a much more informed, richer human being. And she’d learned so much and still still talks to people in these different countries. And I think to myself, you know, when I was coming up, I didn’t leave Ohio, you know what I’m saying? And so, you don’t know anything outside of Ohio. But my daughter who’s only 23 years old, has connections around the world. I mean, this is where this is where it’s going, right? We’re gonna everybody’s gonna be global I think.

Rajesh: Which is actually interesting, because when I talk to people here, I still feel a lot of them are not motivated to go overseas. In fact, if I’m not mistaken, the percentage of American citizens who have passports are much lower than that, for example, in Europe.

Nicole: Well, I think it might be too that in Europe, he could go a much shorter difference and be in a different country. But if you’re in St. Louis, Missouri, it’s a long way to Europe. I don’t know. But I do think this next generation, you know, our Gen Z’s and the generation before that, they’re going to they’re, they’re embracing world travel for sure. Yeah.

Rajesh: And that’s good. Yes. But historically, that’s not been the case.

Nicole: Yeah, I think I think there’s a trend afoot. I, if I had, or if I had to be a betting woman, I would bet on our next generation, that they’re gonna go out there and do amazing things. Absolutely. All right. So tell me again, why do you believe that some leaders can take on these international challenges better than others? So what are the what are the keys other than being mindful, patient, and having that emotional attunement, sense of curiosity. What are some other skills that you need to have in order to be successful?

Rajesh: So I would say, you know, I think you need to be a good integrator, which is to say, bring people from different perspectives, and different mindsets altogether. And I think because leading a globally diverse team is not easy. And you know, there can be challenges and difficulties. But on the other hand, if you’re able to do it, you can create a completely different kind of an organization. And so I think you need to be able to, to be a good integrator, you need to be able to be fundamentally, you need to be able to get other people to trust you, and you to trust them. Because without that level of trust, right, I think it’d be very difficult. And one, one dimension of trust is respect, which is so often and up what happens is, in global companies, the headquarters does not trust the subsidiary. 

And so any input coming from local subsidiary, is often viewed through a jaundice lens to the headquarters, and it’s partly a power issue, political issue, who is going to make the decision as to what’s going to be done? But partly, I think it’s also a question of really, lack of understanding, you know. Headquarters thinks we know best. And, and this is obviously also led to problems and in a number of, in a number of cases. Yes. So I know some American companies exited India after a long time, because they could not, they could not actually do the very fundamental thing, which is to sell a product that the consumer wants. So they have their own mindset in terms of what it needs to be done. And so they lost out to other competitors. Yes.

Nicole: Right. Right. Yeah. And I like the fact that you’re talking about respect, you have another article on your website called Learning from Different Cultures. And I think that that’s another skill that that leaders have to have is the ability to be like a lifelong learner, you know, and curiosity is curiosity is a little bit like that. But really, like the desire to add to your business acumen, or your cultural acumen is important. Yeah, you say that on your website, that one of the things that really helped you, when you traveled and we were in all of these different countries is that you, you began to see your weaknesses. So tell me how understanding your weaknesses is an asset?

Rajesh: Well, so you know, exactly what is missing, what is lacking. And you know, what you actually need to do. So I was coming from a collectivistic culture to an American culture, which is much more individualistic, much more aggressive. You’ve got to really stand out, you’ve really got to do a lot of self promotion, yes. Whereas in other cultures, that’s not the case. So, it takes a while to get to, to get that aggressive. Now, I will not say that I can be similar to a person who was born in this country, because that will never happen. But what I can say is, I can to a certain degree, try to become more more in congruence with the local cultural norms.

Nicole: Right, right. And I think too is this thing of self assessment is huge. I have my own coaching methodology and the in the very first part of it is self assessment. You got, you got to turn the mirror inward. You got to figure out what’s going on with me before you start pointing a finger at everybody else, what’s going on with them, you better put, you know, because you can go like this. You’re pointing one at them and four back at you, right? So you gotta do that.

Rajesh: Sure. So I was coming from a culture which is very security focused, prevention focused. Yes. Which is that you you’re the goal is to minimize losses or risk. American culture is probably the most aggressive, most promotion focused, you know, people want to achieve their goals and then move on to do something else. So they have different orientations.

Nicole: Yeah. And, you know, I think the thing is, is, there are times when you need to be a self promoter, you got to take care of yourself. And then there are times when you need to step back and support. I mean, and I think, really, that’s where self awareness comes in. It’s like when to assert when to pull back and doing that in a beautiful, beautiful way.

Rajesh: I think you need a balance between promotion and prevention.

Nicole: Yes. Yeah. I can’t agree more. Yeah. And the other thing that you said that you’ve learned, is to accept ambiguity. And I think that’s so good, because change is coming. So you better be okay, with not understanding exactly what’s happening.

Rajesh: Most people are very uncomfortable with ambiguity, right. So I think that’s a game of scale that I think leaders should have. Because you’re navigating in a very, very ambiguous environment. Yes. And you’ve learn to tolerate this, and, and certainly across cultures and all of that, I think it’s very important to consider that.

Nicole: Yeah. And I have a change readiness program that I do for companies when they’re getting ready to go into a big change. And when you make a big change, there’s going to be ambiguity. And one of the key character traits is tolerance for ambiguity, I think it’s something that people really, really need to, to work on is, you know, like, let’s just see what happens. Let’s give it a try. Let’s just roll with it. Right. So that is so important. Yeah. And then finally, you say that it’s important to have emotional tranquility. Now earlier, you said emotional attunement, but like, you personally have to have emotional tranquility. Talk a little bit about that, because that sounds fantastic.

Rajesh: What I mean is that, you know, you’re going to experience emotions, you know, whether it’s frustration, anger, surprise, or whatever it is. And what I mean to say, by emotional tranquility is that do not jump do not just react instantaneously to the emotions that you have. And I think a lot of people tend to do that. And there is the, there is often I would say, poor conflict resolution skills, and also a lack of impulse control. Because I think the problem as you will appreciate, is, once you get into an emotional outburst, it changes the situation.

Nicole: The party is over. The negotiation is over.

Rajesh: Right. So you know, or you know, so I think so. So you need to be you need to be very measured. And also, I think we know from research and otherwise, that our first reaction to any emotion is not necessarily the most productive one. But that we’ve seen that, at least in recent years, people are more often interested in a shouting match than in actually coming together.

Nicole: Yeah, yeah. And, and really, this is very scientific, because I’ll tell Dr. Kumar, what he already knows, but maybe some of you may not be aware of those of you listening is, is emotional tranquillity, again, I think would be like this idea of emotional intelligence. But every single human no matter where you come from, you have an amygdala, which is this little lizard sized brain at the base of your neck. And it’s responsible, as I understand it, Dr. Kumar for fight and flight. But now there are two more, they say that the human brain has revolutionized further and there’s fight, flight, freeze, and deflect. 

Fight, flight, freeze and deflect. And that when you get, I like to say it like this, because it has a little punch, but like you get hijacked, you’re like, your amygdala takes over. You’re like, yeah, yeah. And that’s when you lose your emotional tranquility. But if you can recognize and then with your limbic brain, which is more in the center part of your head, you’re like, oh, that just made me angry. Yeah, recognizing. Yeah. And then finally coming to this big forehead because look, Dr. Kumar has a big forehead and so do I see that and so we finally get up here, and we’re, we stop and we go, that made me very angry, however, I don’t think he understood my culture. I don’t think he really meant anything by it. Right? You know what I mean?

Rajesh: Yeah, absolutely. And I think one of the problems and anger is that you get angry because you perceive someone else has done something to you. And that someone has done it intentionally. Now, you may be mistaken in any relationship, it may well be have been an accident. Sometimes, of course, it is intention, but not all the cases. So why deliberately jump to that assumption of conscious intention? And of course, once we assume of conscious intention that you know, then you know, the interaction enters into the not a very productive space.

Nicole: That’s right. That’s right. And I think, you know, you’re the ego hangs out down here, around by your, by your amygdala, you know, it’s like, how dare he? Well, he wasn’t even daring, he just said something he shouldn’t have said. He made a mistake. You know, he didn’t, you know, he wasn’t all those things. He wasn’t open minded. He wasn’t patient. And he wasn’t curious. He made an assumption. Right. And so you got to forgive people. So back to the spiritual part of that. It’s very good to be forgiving, too, I think.

Rajesh: Absolutely. Absolutely. Yes, but I think you know, there are a few people who can who can be forgiving. I don’t know. Maybe there are. Have you seen leaders being very forgiving?

Nicole: Well, I have, you know, but there’s the old thing, Dr. Kumar. I’ll forgive you, but I’m not gonna forget. Yeah, I gotta, I gotta, I gotta keep my radar up in case you do it again, you know, but I do think that, you know, we know people are gonna make mistakes.

Rajesh: Would you consider that forgiving? When you say that I will forgive you, but I will not forget?

Nicole: Well, I think in business, you do have to keep your radar up. I mean, I would give you I would give you another try. Yeah, it would give you another opportunity. Yeah. But I do have money on the table. I do have this organization’s reputation on the table. So I have to be cautious. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. All right. So I’ve, let’s pretend we have one special listener who is like getting ready to get into international business travel for the first time or something. If you gave them one more piece of advice, what would you share with that listener?

Rajesh: You know, consider this is a journey of adventure. You know, I think go with a very positive proactive, and you know, just recognize that there are a lot of things you’re going to be exposed to and see that you could never have imagined before. And while some of them might not be to you liking, there are other things that will really surprise you, as you mentioned, your friend who went to Italy, and then she started enjoying having that particular lunch and all of it. So I think you have to go with an attitude that is more positive, that is accepting of differences. Because traditionally, I think we have viewed differences as wrong.

Nicole: Yeah. I agree.

Rajesh: And so that’s part of human psychology. But, you know, I think you know, you need to get beyond that.

Nicole: Yes. Yeah, absolutely. All right, everybody. We have spent some great time with Dr. Kumar. Here’s what I want you to do. I want you to understand that you can find him out on the World Wide Web. He is at Please check out his blog and his articles where he has all sorts of great information. Dr. Kumar are you on LinkedIn? Could we find you on LinkedIn and be your friend?

Rajesh: Yes, yes, yes.

Nicole: Okay. Very good. All right. Well, if you need a person to be guide, be your Sherpa in the international waters, give Dr. Kumar a call. And we appreciate you so much being on the Build a Vibrant Culture podcast. Thank you so much.

Voiceover: Ready to build your vibrant culture? Bring Nicole Greer to speak to your leadership team, conference or organization to help them with her strategies, systems and smarts to increase clarity, accountability, energy and results. Your organization will get lit from within. Email And be sure to check out Nicole’s TEDx talk at

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