Try this…….

I have lived and worked in many countries, and this has enabled me to really get to know the people. I hope that my life experience has taught me some tolerance and understanding. I hope it has taught me to value the differences in people and cultures. Maybe, like me, you get frustrated when people replay stereotypes about how folks in a certain country are.

Italy, the country of chaos, lack of organisation. Spain, the country of the long lunch and the siesta. Turkey, well that’s where we go on holiday, but they might try and rip you off at any moment. The list goes on.

It’s certainly true that people do things in different ways. Working in Italy, we would enjoy a one hour lunch every day, we would stay at work until 8pm or later, with most of the best ideas coming late in the day with everyone talking at the same time. Meetings would overrun, there would be coffee and cigarette breaks, and the results were great.

There are some countries where we just demonstrate huge ignorance. Istanbul and Ankara have universities which teach in English, and the Turkish people I worked with were some of the smartest and hardest-working people I know. While I have not lived in Hungary, I worked with many Hungarians while at Vodafone and their professionalism was world-class.

The world is always a better place when we are open to do looking at things in a different way. This includes being open to new ideas from the person down the road of course.

In northern European countries some people look down on people from the southern European countries. This is so ridiculous. Some think that our way is the only way and the right way.

If you are a younger reader of this blog, I would like to make a suggestion. Try and find a way to live in another country for a few years, ideally a country you don’t know anything about. It will change your life, how you think and how others around you think. Hold on, even if you are an older reader, try it too! Last but not least, do it even if you feel very comfortable and happy in your current life.

Andrew Knowlman

I am a 50-year old father of two children, married to Jane. I live in Hertfordshire, UK. I was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis in April 2015.

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