Breakfast: Audrey dips her bread with butter and jam into her coffee. Incredible! But just French. For her it’s the absolutely normal way to start her day.
In our team we have ten different nationalities: Australia, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Spain, and Sweden. Our team language is English, though I’m sure that our native speakers have their doubts sometimes. In the end we mix in a lot of expressions from other languages. Maybe it’s a bit like our own Team-Mix-Language. But I think that we always understand each other and find the good way to explain things and also the good way to understand things. Both sides are important: speaking and listening.
And this is not reduced on the language only. In so many things we interpret a mood or define someone as normal or not. The way someone looks, or moves, or opens the door… Just think about the different ways of driving a car in different countries! What seems aggressive in Germany is totally normal in Italy.
In the end there is only one way to understand each other: You need to learn something about your teammates personality and culture. What does it mean when she acts like this? Is it just normal? Or did she express something else? Important is to be open to reconsider your own „basis of assessment“. And it absolutely helps to first assume the positive.
One thing brings us all together: We are all from cycling and this is our common basis. We have the common goal to win races. There is no doubt and the direction is clear. We all want to grow together, improve and support each other. My feeling is, that the little barriers of internationality most of the times even turn out to be helpful. This bit of more distance makes everyone more awake for the real message. You don’t get lost in interpretation because you understood that you might be wrong anyway. Important is only what brings you forward as a team.
Personally I can say that I grew a lot being member of international teams. It makes me feel not only German, but also European, because I found so many things that Europeans have in common. I learned a lot about communication and about supporting each other also when you can’t always find the correct words. And sometimes it’s just nice to laugh about crazy people who dip a bread with butter and jam into their coffee!