The last 10 days, for professional and personal reasons, have been about processing consequences and how this affects one’s identity. Coming from a country that prides itself for its tolerance yet independence, the cultural values that are about individualistic thinking sometimes battle it out with more collectivistic values that motivate me to think about others and evaluate what will happen next. So, if others do not do that, it can be frustrating.
Such cultural value differences can occur at individual, team, organisation and national level. If you are a perfectionist, who likes to deliver good work it can be awkward and frustrating when the teams around you have a slightly more ‘relaxed’ approach. It could be that the infrastructure or IT facilities within your country or organisation fail you, which affects your professional identity. It could also be that an individual does something that affects you directly. Perhaps a conflict ensues and you need to manage this. What can you do when the other really cannot understand your issue with what they’ve done? The other can say they’re sorry and your view on things may have changed forever, but is moving on the only option left?
Processing consequences is a form of emotional intelligence that is key to successful (cross cultural) management and good leadership. I am monitoring what is happening in The Netherlands, currently an interesting case study in terms of the rise of right wing extremism. What does it mean when a party like the PVV, which has strong policies on the maintenance of the Dutch identity, is so popular? If we vote for parties like that, are we processing the consequences properly or are we protesting against the status quo, not thinking about the future state of affairs if this party comes into power? And if it all does turn sour, what is the meaning of saying sorry, like so many leaders have done (and some still haven’t – left or right wing) for the mistakes they’ve made? In short, what are the consequences for those who do not process consequences?