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Shanghai: Fascination, m&ms, unhappy lungs and conflict workshops

Checking, checking, checking my Facebook login. Nope, won’t load today. Facebook is hit and miss in China, but still works time and again. I manage to load a current photo from my trip to Suzhou: a sign that reads “caution civilization”,

which I interpret to mean, dear people, please do not tread on the vegetation or caution many many people afoot. Each trip and new cultural encounter provides a collage of impressions. And this one too by no means ends with translations gone wrong. This is just a humorous gem amidst the mountain of “aha’s”. Within one week’s time, I have experienced the stomach flu/ food poisoning and thus the consequent visit to a local hospital, conflicts resolved in record time, the best Mexican food, new Chinese phrases, a kung fu noodle dance and simple oh that’s right we all humans and have similar needs conversations. Oh and a deep cough what I imagine chain smokers master were after years of experience – I am really amazed trendy respirator masks in all colors, patters and smileys haven’t hit the market yet. Here, where pollution reigns – it honestly what I can say for the first time is a fashion emergency! To keep people healthy it truly does need to become an accessory. More sexy than the best diamond! At least the masks can save lives! 😉 Diamonds only take them.

Professionally, I am here with colleagues to conduct workshops on seeing opportunities in workshops and supporting employee development in change topics. Some initial lessons learn? On introducing a game with m&ms to simulate a resource struggle, I have witnessed conflicts resolved in mere minutes by working together. At my professional home (the country I live and work in), matters would be discussed in-depth, each scenario thought through in detail. What would each person have in it for them? Here, it seemed self-explanatory – put the m&ms in the middles, collect and distribute them accordingly. Problem solved. An interesting response, however, “if you give us individual goals, it may turn out differently”. Bottom line, “if you define that there is something specifically in it for me, then perhaps competition arises in the situation.” On the second go of the simulation, we added that the m&ms symbolized gold that they would get to keep. The scenario ended somewhat differently, but still not to just one or two person’s favor. Originally, all m&ms were put in the middle and separated according to color, now the colors were distributed among multiple people, so instead of everyone sharing in the pot, three out of eight were at an advantage.

So you may be asking what was the game?

The M&M Game (excerpt from Pfeiffer Handbook of Successful team-building tools)
Each Participant takes three random m&ms out of the bag. The group has 5 minutes to collect as many of the same color as possible. The trick: the exercise refers to “you” but it can be interpreted as you (individual) or you (team) and depending on the interpretation you get differing results. Both our teams in China interpreted it as “you” (team) until we specifically gave them individual goals.

Now, however the the midnight bell tolls and sleep reigns, but surely in the next days and hours you will hear more on:

boarding the train called “Harmony”
Chinese hospitals in perfect English
efficient train stations doubling as airports
delicious quesedillas in a Shanghai expat quarter
and whatever else jaunts into my spectrum of experience and observation…

stay tuned!

5 Responses

  • Chassidy on January 19, 2017, 18:12:45

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    Reply to Chassidy
  • Ruby on December 1, 2015, 04:25:47

    This workshop should be given to our government and world leaders. Learning how to deal with conflict is so needed in all areas. It would be so great if this could be given in our High Schools and Colleges. Your blog is very informative and I so appreciate being able to read about your work and experiences.

    Reply to Ruby
    • Brittany on January 31, 2016, 15:14:13

      Unfortunately the easy part is the workshop. The tough part is practicing what you preach. I have to admit, I still find myself swirling by big toe in the shallow end, saying “Brittany dive in, you know it will be better on the other side!”

      Reply to Brittany
  • Lori on November 24, 2015, 16:00:39

    Love it!!

    Reply to Lori