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“Gretchen am Spinnrade”

I’ve never seen Goethe’s “Faust” used to describe expat training, but this says a lot about Germany. It’s a description for expat and/or multicultural team training that refers to the “Gretchen question” in Goethe’s “Faust”. For those of you who have forgotten your college lit courses (or perhaps used one too many Cliff Notes instead of doing the required reading), the charachter Gretchen asks Faust if he believes in God and he does not know how to answer the question satisfactorily. The Gretchen Question (“Gretchenfrage”) is used ideomatically in modern German to refer to a question of great importance with a difficult answer.

But that’s not the point of this blog post. The point is: Germany has a great wealth of cultural heritage that they are justifiably proud of. In just about every art that you can think of, the greats that Germany produced throughout the centuries make one realize that there must have been something in the water, so to speak, that led to genius. This is not at all taken lightly by present-day Germans and, when doing business in Germany, is something to be respected, even revered.

This article, on Xing, is written by Robert Gibson, who has been responsible for intercultural training at Learning Campus, the educational organisation set up at Siemens AG. He very succinctly outlines what businesses see as necessary attributes of intercultural trainers.

Companies expect experience and expertise. No generalists! Not only do you have to talk the talk, you also need to walk the walk. In short: companies want their money’s worth. No surprise, perhaps, but good to get this advice from one of the pros inside the business.

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Leo Salazar

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