Unlocking Cultural Agility with Marco Blankenburgh

Thriving Intercultural Relationships with Bart and Julie Heiligenberg and Bryce and Thelma Dzirbik

January 08, 2023 Bart and Julie Heiligenberg Season 1 Episode 15
Thriving Intercultural Relationships with Bart and Julie Heiligenberg and Bryce and Thelma Dzirbik
Unlocking Cultural Agility with Marco Blankenburgh
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Unlocking Cultural Agility with Marco Blankenburgh
Thriving Intercultural Relationships with Bart and Julie Heiligenberg and Bryce and Thelma Dzirbik
Jan 08, 2023 Season 1 Episode 15
Bart and Julie Heiligenberg

How do you create a thriving intercultural marriage or relationship?
 
The challenges of the last few years have taught us that quality relationships are crucial for success in work and life. Listen to these stories of relational success to learn how to build better relationships at home and work.

Bart and Julie Heiligenberg and Bryce and Thelma Dzirbik share their stories walking through life bringing together cultures from the USA, Netherlands, and Nigeria in the UAE.

If you are interested in being part of a thriving intercultural marriage workshop you can email Bart@KnowledgeWorkx.com

In this episode, you will learn

  • How culture influences some of our deepest relationships
  • How to build resilient long-lasting intercultural relationships
  • How to practically build trust across cultures in relationships

 | Articles
 -- Building Deep Relationships that Cross Cultures (http://kwx.fyi/deep-relationships-crossing-cultues)
--  Four Keys for Building Trust on Teams (http://kwx.fyi/building-trust-teams) 


-- Brought to you by KnowledgeWorkx.com

Show Notes Transcript

How do you create a thriving intercultural marriage or relationship?
 
The challenges of the last few years have taught us that quality relationships are crucial for success in work and life. Listen to these stories of relational success to learn how to build better relationships at home and work.

Bart and Julie Heiligenberg and Bryce and Thelma Dzirbik share their stories walking through life bringing together cultures from the USA, Netherlands, and Nigeria in the UAE.

If you are interested in being part of a thriving intercultural marriage workshop you can email Bart@KnowledgeWorkx.com

In this episode, you will learn

  • How culture influences some of our deepest relationships
  • How to build resilient long-lasting intercultural relationships
  • How to practically build trust across cultures in relationships

 | Articles
 -- Building Deep Relationships that Cross Cultures (http://kwx.fyi/deep-relationships-crossing-cultues)
--  Four Keys for Building Trust on Teams (http://kwx.fyi/building-trust-teams) 


-- Brought to you by KnowledgeWorkx.com

Bart Heiligenberg:

You can only change somebody's mind over dinner. And what it means is like, you know, nobody's going to change their mind because of your opinions, they're only going to change their mind because they see the person behind the opinions. If I want to change somebody's mind, I just need to invest in them, I need to befriend them, I need to have them over for dinner. And then of course, the dangerous but I have to vote within and they might actually change my life because I see what kind of person they are. Because that's what we're missing is we stopped seeing each other as people as persons. And we started seeing somebody as a caricature of the ideology or their religion or the political conviction, etc. So we need to go back to see people as people.

Marco Blankenburgh:

Welcome to the cultural agility podcast, where we explore the stories of some of the most advanced intercultural practitioners from around the world, to help you become culturally agile, and succeed in today's culturally complex world. I'm your host, Marco Blankenburg, international director of knowledge works, where every day we help individuals and companies achieve relational success in that same complex world. Welcome, everybody, to this next episode of our cultural agility podcast. And I'm very excited about today's recording, because we have two inter cultural couples in our virtual studio. And I'm really excited about this conversation. So what Julie Bryce and, Thelma, thank you for joining us today. And I'm very much looking forward to hear your stories. And how the intercultural side of it or relationships have impacted your lives in a variety of ways. So, maybe Bryce and Salma if you could start with a brief introduction, and Barton. Julie, have you follow suit, and then we'll go straight into the conversation.

Bryce Dzirbik:

Thanks, Marco. My name is Bryce, and I'm here with my wife.

Thelma Dzirbik:

Salma tele. Now, I'm from Nigeria.

Bryce Dzirbik:

And I'm from the US.

Marco Blankenburgh:

Wonderful, so good to have you. Thank you.

Julie Heiligenberg:

I'm Julie. And I'm from the States. And currently, we're overseas. And this is where Bart and I met many years ago. And I'm staying home with our two teenagers are 12 and 14. So it's good to be here.

Bart Heiligenberg:

So I'm Bart. I'm from the Netherlands. The part that's called Holland actually. And I met my wife, Julie, in the United Arab Emirates in a city called align.

Marco Blankenburgh:

Awesome. Thank you so much. So Barton, Julie, you already started to get into a little bit of your story. But maybe, for our audience, maybe you want to add a few things in terms of how you met how you got to know each other?

Bart Heiligenberg:

Yeah, we actually met in the Emirates, in, in church, actually. And I kind of stood out because I was the only single guy that I met at church. And I just remember Julie saying, after reading. Yeah, she really liked me, though, I had a few weird things around me. And she still liked me. So that was good. And then as we got married, actually had half my family coming over to the states, and spent a week with us before the wedding and helping and changed. It was like, oh, not by test a few weird things throughout the midst of Emily does. And then we were lucky a year later to spend six months in the Netherlands. And she came to the conclusion that it's the whole country that is weird. And that's culture.

Julie Heiligenberg:

Yes, I remember, in our early days of getting to know each other, and even the first year of marriage, how direct wire it was, and some of his friends or family members. And it was sometimes it was really hard to me. Because you know, I come from a culture that I guess it's just very affirming. and think, oh, you can't talk can't talk to people like that. And I was the only one that had a problem with everybody else was fine. And they were laughing and I just learned that those are just differences in humor is sometimes doesn't cross cultures and translate very well. And it was just different. I had to learn their way of talking and different directness and humor even and I just grew into that and really learn to embrace and love who Bart is and understand who he is. Yeah, it was those early days. So differences.

Marco Blankenburgh:

Fantastic. So Bryson, Salma, how did you guys meet?

Bryce Dzirbik:

Well, I moved to Dubai in 2018 for work, and I met my Oh, now what is it in? Churches? Well,

Thelma Dzirbik:

yeah, I was here. I moved here for university sent me to Dubai for university, around four years before Bryce moved here. And I was going into this church called covenant hope. And I actually heard advice before he showed up because he had emailed the church asked me if he could bring some instruments because he plays a lot of musical instruments, which has been great. But yeah, so that's, that's how I got to hear about price. I actually heard about him that this American guy was going to come and he is willing to help us with our music, which is exciting. And so he showed up. And of course, he really stood out. Because I mean, I tried to be diverse, but you know, when a new person steps in, because he just pretty different. Yeah, so that was how we met.

Marco Blankenburgh:

Fantastic, fantastic. Now, you already started to learn what to what attracted you to each other? And I'm curious to hear a little bit more about that. So maybe someone will just keep talking. Yeah. So

Thelma Dzirbik:

let me see, the first thing I learned about Bryce was just how much he loved to interact with people, like his love for people. I remember the first time I actually spotted him, he was talking to a friend of mine, right across the room. And I had this, you know, I wanted to tell my friend about my week. So I just stood in line kinda behind him awkwardly at the side, just kind of waiting for him to finish whatever he was talking to her about. And I just was like, Oh, this guy, like just really both talking to people. So I was the first thing that attracted me to him. And I guess that's kind of a little bit also like a cultural defense, because I just feel like, it's kind of very, like he would approach someone first, which I think in my culture, sometimes we kind of wait for people to approach us first. So I kind of feel like that was like a, it was something they chatted into him for stuff.

Marco Blankenburgh:

So Bryce, I was it on your side of the fence

Bryce Dzirbik:

for me, someone definitely stood out. And she was much more outgoing than me. And so I was definitely attracted to her excitement and joy about life. So and her excitement and joy, I'm cheering others on, both in their faith and in different life events. I remember, once she asked for a ride, to see if someone to drop her off to cheer a friend who was skydiving. So she made a sign. And then she was going to cheer on her friend as she landed, and just observing instances of like, that, of her excitement and going to cheer us on was very attractive.

Marco Blankenburgh:

Wonderful. Well, I didn't, Julie, you already started to talk about the uniqueness of, of Dutch versus American culture. But you already alluded to what drew you to each other. So anything you want to add to that, from those early moments?

Julie Heiligenberg:

Yeah, I remember, Bart, I was single living overseas, learning, teaching English as a second language, just kind of going on with my life. And as we would come to church, or different mutual friends houses, who would always be where everywhere, it's like, he would just show up, it just kept coming into my life. And a paid attention. I paid attention to his heart, his the way he would walk around and talk to people, everybody. And he was learning the local language. And we were kind of working together sometimes. And it's just more and more my heart was open to this guy who was wholly different than me, different culture, different language, different personality, different gifting, and an acute accent. So all of that just attracted me. And we grew. I mean, we really, really had to think through like, Well, I was enjoying my life, you know, I was living where I wanted to be. And it was really cool to meet someone who had some similar values and really wanted to live life together in a common way. So it was really cool.

Marco Blankenburgh:

So Bart, from from California to North Holland, very different worlds. What attracted you in in jewelry from those early days?

Bart Heiligenberg:

Wow, now I have to go back in memory for 20 plus years. I think what attracted me and Julie, I remember my roommate and I, we had a lot of fun. We had a lot of parties, actually. And lots of singles parties, thanks to an Arab friend who really loves hosting those parties. And what attracted me to God was that she she had a passion in her life, passion to do certain things, and she was willing to give up comfortable life To pursue passions, and that really stood out to me, somebody who wanted to follow him nations, and young as our passions and the joining up, which is to suit passion together.

Marco Blankenburgh:

That's powerful. In the midst of that, of course, you are both intercultural couples from very different worlds. So, what were some of those early moments, right and found out when you started to discover those cultural differences?

Thelma Dzirbik:

I would say, I think one of my earliest memories of thinking, Oh, my goodness, price is so different, was when he would say, Hey, I'm coming to pick you up at 2pm. And he would show up at my door, you know, like five minutes before 2pm. And I'm like, Oh, my goodness, you're so early, that I thought you were gonna be like, 215, or to 30. Just, you know, with my culture, it's a lot about like, not only like being late to things where we just take our time to do things. And so that was very different for me. And I think even with that, I realized that were prices, culture is a lot is like a lot of like time oriented. Meanwhile, for my culture is a lot more like relationship oriented. So say, if price had scheduled, we were gonna have a date from two to 4pm. Here's kind of already, you know, thinking about like, oh, it's close to 4pm, we're gonna round up and I'm like, oh, man, join this conversation. Let's keep going. And we can keep going, you know, cuz it's, you know, this is a nice conversation. I think that was one of my first. Yeah, it was one of my first things that I noticed was really different with our coaches.

Marco Blankenburgh:

Yeah, that's, that's great. Our concepts of time are radically different from around the world. And so a great example of that. Now, Julie, you already mentioned, how, if I can say the word honesty is handled very differently in web art comes from and his family, you only alluded to it, but maybe tell us a little bit more about that. And how did you discover those early cultural difference between you and bards cultural journey?

Julie Heiligenberg:

Yes, I guess at one point, our second year of marriage, we spent six months in Holland with his family and around his family, we had our own place. But we spent a lot of time at his house, where he grew up, and he's one of seven kids. So you know, it's a big family. And I had a lot of culture to learn so but I think my being in the Middle East, I expected a lot of culture shock me in in Holland, I, I didn't really I thought, Oh, we were kind of Westerners were very similar. But living there and living life there. I remember being surprised by the hospitality of his family. And I, we don't in California, I don't think we even know how to do hospitality. One or two hours, and then you're out the door, you wouldn't really spend time a whole long, long time all day with people. But with Bart and his friends and family, we'd spent four or five hours, all in Dutch, all coolest for me. Sometimes people would translate everyone smile. And just the time they took to be with people. Yeah, you still schedule that time. But when you're with people, you spend the time and that was a pleasant surprise, just hospitality and all kinds of coffee times that I didn't realize were really important in the mornings and the afternoons in the evenings. And even one time I was upstairs, it was eight o'clock at night. And I was supposed to come down for coffee time. And I remember telling about I'm not thirsty. You just gave me the look like I'm, it's come down and I was like, Okay, this is really important to him and to his family. And I came down, sat with my mother in line, even if I didn't drink coffee, because I thought I'm not gonna sleep. She just said, Well, what else would you like to drink and just the fact that I was there and spending that time was important. And I think I learned a lot about the value of family and time, just don't in those six months that I hadn't seen in our first couple years of marriage overseas, because we were in a neutral place, not in my culture or his culture. We were we were in the Emirates. And that was a really big eye opener for me.

Marco Blankenburgh:

That's beautiful. And maybe also something you know, that is it shows the difference across Dutch society. Some people might be like the highly convex, very hospitable very people relationship oriented and others might not. Rise. Thelma alluded to the different view on time. What was it for you that that really helped you understand? Wow, we are very different culturally.

Bryce Dzirbik:

Yeah, the difference Some time was definitely something I noticed as well. Another thing else would be noticed, is not just differences in our cultures of where we grew up, but also differences in family culture. So even if I grew up in the US, you know, each family in the US in the sense has their own culture. And same in Nigeria. So, for example, in communication, generally speaking, people in the US would be known to be more direct, and people in Eastern cultures to be more indirect. But we found in our case that me growing up in Midwest where people are quote, Midwest, nice. I was more the indirect one. And Thumma was her family was more direct. So for me, I had more experience like you, Julie, where I was like, wow. So there's been several would say things that would sound very harsh to me. But the more I got to know them, I learned to appreciate her directness, because I knew she was sharing those things. Because she loved me, and cared for me. And so yeah, as you get to know, culture, it's, it's helpful to seek to know, the specific culture person grew up and not just in addition to the general culture of their country.

Marco Blankenburgh:

Yeah, and you bring up something that's really important, and something that we're passionate about it knowledge works, as well as this whole idea that if you say, you know, the average American, the average Nigerian, the average Dutch, and you use that as your baseline, then very likely, you're going to discover a whole bunch of other things that might be radically opposite, like the example you just gave Bryce. So this whole idea that we all are on our own cultural journey, and especially when you then start an intimate relationship, discovering what that journey is then becomes super important. So but, Julie, you've lived a long time in California. And, Julie, you alluded to that first time when you started to live in barbed sculpture. But what was it like for you to actually started living in the US? What did you discover about Julie maybe about her family, that you never realized when you were living in the third culture in the Arabian Gulf?

Bart Heiligenberg:

Well, I was lucky that I did go to the US a couple of times before we actually spent the six months there. And we actually had a lot of American friends living here more than we had that trends. So for me, it was like a gradual easing in. I think one of the things that stood out for me in Southern California is it's a very driven culture. And I was not used to that. The Netherlands, but especially here after two or three years in the Middle East, it's a lot more relaxed. Can Julie's family is very close knit, similar to mine, but still in a different way. We are very quiet people, my family. You won't really hear the words I love you that much. It's an indirect ways where her family is very frugal, very frugal with affirmation with affection. And those were the differences that stood out. And, of course, the whole famous Americans are very famous for saying sorry. I know in the beginning of my Marriotts, Julie and I went, we get away with a couple of other American friends and like a day and a half. And I asked her like, what's wrong with me? This guy keeps saying story to me like 50 times an hour. And I mean, being nice. I mean, we only say sorry, if you literally knock somebody over or you, you punch him in the face. But I had to learn in America, they some beat, somebody might say certainly if they come less than six feet, the less than six feet away from you because they feel the invading personal space or something like that. So I had to get used to those things. Wow.

Marco Blankenburgh:

There's so much more to say about that. Thank you for that. But the word sorry. Yes. I've heard that many, many times. So we've talked a little bit we've we've had on this idea of time, concepts of time concepts of directness versus indirectness. In terms of our communication, ideas of honesty. One of the tools that we love to use in knowledge works is three colors of worldview. Talking about doing the right thing, avoid doing the wrong thing, pursuing honor, avoiding shame, or looking at hierarchy as In position in relationships, and navigating, who's in what position in an appropriate way? Maybe Bart and Julie are, how do those things influence the way you you grow in a relationship? Have you seen differences there? As you got to know each other better?

Bart Heiligenberg:

I think for Julie and myself, when you look at the three colors of worldview, I think Julie and I are very similar in that innocence. Guilt is right and wrong is very strong for us. And the others are not as important. But I think what I've seen is that it's still important for me as a husband, to not just do right by my wife, but also to watch out for her honor and to empower her. So Do not just look at that strongest willed screwdriver. But all the other ones are just as important to thrive in a relationship.

Julie Heiligenberg:

Yeah, I think for us, I'm, I'm a stronger personality. So even though I have a similar worldview, I could easily dishonor Bart in a way that would really make him either angry or be feel shame. And I had to learn early on to be very careful how I speak. And the way I say things to not crush his spirit is just you know, really strong women can just bowled over some guys. And I think learning Bart had such a gentle, quiet spirit, even though he was definitely strong. And he's he speaks his mind. It was a personality difference more than cultural maybe. And I'm, I remember learning Well, this is a way to honor him and value who he is, is to be careful and learn how to speak in a way that shows love, even though I can express myself, especially in in a way that's not going to overpower or diminish who he is. And I, I really had to learn that in our marriage, especially I learned it in friendships along in my life. But in a marriage, it can be so crushing and so destructive, when you don't speak, life and encouragement and he said empowerment. And you actually can tear someone down.

Marco Blankenburgh:

And I think that's such an important insight. Because, you know, we're, we're talking about the subject of, you know, intercultural relationships today, but at the same time, what you're raising Julie's so important that we're both cultural human beings, but we're also human beings with a personality and a behavioral style. And both are incredibly important to become aware of, first of all, your own, of course, and then the cultural wiring and the behavioral style of the other person, Thelma, rice, anything to add to that, yeah, we're

Thelma Dzirbik:

just trying to remember, just, I mean, the first time we heard of those, like categories of the worldview, and surprisingly, I'm more like, in my culture, in terms of a general sense, will be more like on a shame. A little bit of power here, too, because I'm from the northern part of Nigeria. But I think just because I've like, grown up outside of the country, in a sense that I came here, when I was a teenager, I came to Dubai when I was a teenager. And it was really surrounded by like, Americans and like, Asian people, and like people from the UK, so just really kind of absorb different cultures around me. And I kind of be more towards right and wrong, in a sense. So I think that has actually made rice and I get along somewhat, because I can see where he's coming from. Sometimes when he's when he's more strong on like, Oh, should do this, because it's right. Even though he would stand for that a lot more than I would, I would still walk in the room and think about who is the most senior person in the room. I think that just like is at the back of my mind every time and I see it a lot at work. So something that we've also realized is so I work with a local company here and Bryce on the other hand works with an American company. And I work cultures are just so different, because I have more you know, more Asians in my my company. So there's a lot of like, power fear around in the sense that people are very aware and would always listen to whoever's in authority and would, you know, talk a certain way to someone there's an authority versus someone that they see as the peer or below them. versus, versus with Bryce. It's kind of refreshing for his for the culture in this company is more kind of like a flat culture. So just even realizing that I think I've been at work already. realize that that's something I've had to be aware of like that everyone around me things. Not really everyone, but most people around me think in a lot like, oh, this person is an authority. So we should do what they say you should do more so even a little bit without questioning it a lot, just due to my personality. And my one question, even though I recognize the majority. And so that's just kind of ways that that's played out, you know, my relationship with other people at work, and also in our relationship with each other.

Bryce Dzirbik:

And as we talk about work with each other, yeah, it's helpful for me to remember that her work is a different culture. Yeah. And to try to keep that in mind.

Thelma Dzirbik:

Yeah. So an advice of my work for vices workplace within work for mine. So just keeping that at the back of our minds, as we like, talk with each other, or even think through something that's happening, you know, in each other's relationships with other people.

Marco Blankenburgh:

Yeah. So So these three colors are well viewed as they're not just you know, with, with loved ones were, you know, friends, but they also are at play in work cultures. And you, you gave just beautiful illustrations of that. So on the one hand, we're talking, you know, as intercultural couples, but at the same time, I'm just curious, the lessons you've learned as couples, how can people potentially apply those in any intercultural relationship, so we can think of the challenges that you have seen and the things you had to navigate as well as the beautiful things? What should people be aware of, in pretty much any intercultural relationship? What would be your, your, let's say, your top two or three things that you would like to communicate to our listeners?

Bart Heiligenberg:

It's funny because I started the business part. So like, hey, this applies to our intimate relationships as well. And now we go the other way around, we started intimate relationships, and how can we apply it to, for instance, business? I think the things I learned is, it is important to assume positive intent by the other, especially when you're culturally different. A colleague, or a friend is not out there to tear you down. Sometimes they really think different. And you just have to ask, like, Hey, what is going on? Why are you saying this? But you cannot always do that in the moment. Because a lot of cultures context is everything. And in the Netherlands, I can stop somebody in their tracks in front of a lot of colleagues, and that is fine. In most countries of the world, you have to do it after what in a private setting. I said, Okay, what you said, it came across like it was just what you meant. Yeah,

Thelma Dzirbik:

I was actually going to mention that, I think assumptions, not to make assumptions of what people are intending to say or intended to mean. And just kind of assuming the best of people, and always asking questions, just like you said, but I think that's something I've realized, honestly, even working with people from different cultures, because I've been working at Akamai at this company for around five years. And it's getting more diverse by the second and it's a really big company, but just even how its integrated into the culture of the company is to realize that, okay, people from different places and have would act and think differently. But how much it's so empowering to know that just because you think in this way, and someone else is seeing it from a different point of view, but doesn't necessarily mean that that point of view is wrong and uses right. So kind of coming to people with the humble attitude of wanting to learn and see where they're seeing things from, as one thing that I've realized,

Bryce Dzirbik:

and some of the things in our relationship with each other where at first, when one of us does something, it's easy, might be easy to get upset about it. Because we're assuming they mean something, or I'm assuming that somebody means something by the action that she doesn't actually mean. And so it takes effort and reminding myself to actually dig deeper, to ask questions, to listen to try to understand the why behind. Yeah, specific action, I

Thelma Dzirbik:

guess even I mean, thinking of an example, even with the time thing, I got to realize the price really felt like if I wasn't keeping to the time, they had said to me that I wasn't caring for him, or I just didn't care about his time. Meanwhile, in my mind, I just never thought about it that way. Like I just never thought, oh, I don't care about your time though. I'd never say that. I never said that. But I was kind of communicating that with my action. And Bryce was kind of absorbed in that and thinking of my action in that way. Until we had like multiple conversations about it where, you know, he came to realize that I just wasn't like intending to Don't disrespect him by not coming on time to something. And multiple other examples like that, where we just find that it's easier when we asked and just kind of see what the other person was thinking.

Marco Blankenburgh:

It sounds like, it really sounds like slowing things down and not drawing conclusions too quickly. That seems to be a theme from from what you've been sharing, but also learning to ask good questions. So we always talk about, you know, being a cultural learner and being a cultural learner, the why Bryce that you were alluding to understanding the wild. And you can only do that by slowing things down and asking questions and listening. And it's so incredibly important. One thing that keeps on coming back, no matter what type of intercultural relationship we talk about, is the topic of trust. And it's so big right now especially, we're seem to be on the tail end, sort of the COVID pandemic. So many people have alluded to either how trust has eroded because people were not in the same space, or when it came to the family space, people have indicated that trust has grown because they were, quote, unquote, forced to spend time together. But trust is always a big topic, especially in the intercultural space. So how does how does your cultural worldview? How does that influence the way you see trust in your relationship? Is there actually a difference? Do we feel trust in different ways?

Julie Heiligenberg:

I think trust means different things to different people. And whether it's in your marriage, or relationships at work in the neighborhood, especially if there's people from a different culture, a different worldview, it's really important to understand what builds trust with them. And how do I how do I come across in the West, you know, we tend to just give trust, give people the benefit of the doubt, because we don't want to judge people at first, get to know them, and then we'll see. And before we make any conclusions, we like to just spend that time but in other cultures, especially from honor, same worldview, trust is given kind of within the family within the tribe and no small circle, but outsiders have to earn that trust. And then if you enter into a family and extended family, because when you marry, you marry the family, you may not be the highest trust level with everyone, because you've come into a whole history, culture, a tribe, and it has to be earned. And that's really hard, especially if you're a spouse. And I've also had people ask me, Well, how do you even get to know people from a different culture? How do you even know where to begin? And I always say, like you said, Marco becoming that cultural learner making a lot of observations, understanding the background spending time I think we think of, we think of relationships as short term. And I always ask people, you ask me for the long term, because if you're gonna enter into a relationship with people who are different than you, you've got to think long term, and slow down and be say, I'm gonna walk this journey for as long as this person is in my life, or in my job or in my neighborhood. And spending time and living life together, having a meal together, go to events together, birthdays, weddings, is just showering on our on people, by spending that time and entering into their world is the biggest way you can build start to build trust and understand what it means for them to trust you. And also when you break trust, how people make up conflict resolution is completely different in different ways as well.

Marco Blankenburgh:

Yeah. Wow, that that is so important. Yeah. So starting with what you said at the beginning, Julie, this idea that some people give trust upfront, and some people give nothing upfront and you have to earn it all those two opposite polarities almost. And if both those opposites are in one in one relationship between two people that that can be a huge gap to close or bridge to build. Practically, I know, Bart, you've done a lot of work on on making trust building really practical. And we talk about those four words. For instance, reliability, honesty, openness, and respect. But how do we practically build trust across cultures? How does that work? What do we need to do? Well,

Bart Heiligenberg:

I'm just gonna use the saying that you used in your last podcast, trust takes years to build seconds to break and then eternity to rebuild. And I think when we look at trust, we need to look at these three instance instances and ask people like, hey, What activities build trust with you? So if we look at trust as something that is behavior, then it's just easier to ask like, Okay, what I still trusted you? And what behaviors break your trust? And what can I do to make up because like Julie said, making up is fully different in different cultures. In Western cultures, for instance, making up typically means saying, Hey, I am sorry, I was wrong, I apologize for you forgive me. We were talking with an Egyptian guy and asked him like, hey, if your wife flew it, what does he need to do to make it up, and he says, all she needs to do is take me to an expensive restaurant on a busy night. And that she needs to say I'm sorry, he said, not at all, just take me to an expensive restaurant in public. And in his mind, it was not about the apologies, it was about being publicly honored by his wife. So one of the things we do is, we give people a little quiz where we give them like 15 behaviors that will build trust 15 behaviors that relate to us 15 behaviors that might rebuild trust, and ask them which three of each category are most resonating with them, and start talking about it with your spouse. Because really, until you start talking with the other person about what builds trust with you, and what works trusted you, people will keep breaking trust, because they don't know how to build trust with you.

Julie Heiligenberg:

Yeah, and also, recently, one of our friends, they have a 16 year old daughter that was struggling with communicating back and forth with her. And when they gave her this kind of trust quiz, it opened up so many doors for them to keep building trust and know how to build trust with her and her with her parents. And it was really helpful. So behaviors are important too. Just sometimes you can't think off the top of your head, well, I don't know what builds trust for me or breaks trust for me. But when you can think of some different activities or behaviors, it's a little easier to grasp.

Marco Blankenburgh:

Yeah, and I think that's really key. Because very often, you don't know what you don't know, especially if you grow up in a certain culture. And people start asking you so what builds trusting in how you grew up? Or what breaks it? Very often, we don't know the words. And what whole is one of the trailblazers in the intercultural world. And he always used to say that culture is very good at hiding its intentions, especially to people who are from that culture. So getting some language to say, oh, yeah, that builds trust, or no, that breaks trust in my situation, getting the language to get that conversation going. Is is really important. I would love to hear Bryson, Thelma from your site. When you think about the topic of trust. How have you practically been able to open up that conversation and maybe see trust grow between you?

Bryce Dzirbik:

Yeah, I think there's four words that were shared. honesty, openness, respect, and reliability does resonate with me and give me thinking about how someone I are different in a way. So for me building trust with, with my wife, Thelma, honesty, and openness are very important. You know, being real in conversations, so that someone can know me, that's really how I can. One great way I can build trust with my wife. And it's when that I'm when I'm not sharing. And when I'm more closed, then it's a lot harder for my wife to trust me. Whereas for myself, respect and reliability, often, I value more. So dumb. Being on time is one way that she can build trust with me. And so learning those things that we can do to build trust with one another. That's really helpful.

Thelma Dzirbik:

Yeah, I think that was something that we spent learning when we're dating, because I realized that I remember telling a friend, just a couple of months into us dating and I was like, I don't even feel like I know price. And she was like, What do you mean? And I just was like, I feel like he doesn't share a lot with me. And this is like a really close friend of mine. And like, we've been friends for years. And she said to me, do you feel like you trust him? And I just felt like I realized at that moment that because Bryce wasn't really open with me, um, just because of his personality, or just how different he was from me. I was beginning to kind of like, you know, not really it was Easy for me to get my trust. And so I mean, after conversations, yeah, following conversations from that, I just realized that, yeah, openness, when someone's really open with me, it just really helps me give my trust to them. And, yeah, honesty, which is something that Bryce has learned about me, which I feel like is really spot on our relationship. And even now in my age, and then for him, I kind of feel like I need to switch in my brain to know that, okay, I need to show him that he can rely, if he tells me to do something, or if we agree that I'm gonna take ownership on something, making sure that I follow through, and that it's just really important for him. And times where I've seen that I've not public true media, and something I've said I was gonna do, I just realized that it really affects them way more than it would affect me. And I remember the beginning, I didn't understand it as like, why is this such a big deal? Just because it wasn't the same thing for me, they will do by trust, you know? So I think coming out of myself and realizing like, Oh, this is what matters to him, for him to actually give me his trust? Will you help us and has been helping us to be honest.

Bryce Dzirbik:

Yeah. And related to that, understanding what does, for example, honesty and openness mean to the other person, because me, I thought I was being honest. And I wasn't hiding anything, you know. But I was having more shallow conversations, and not going as deep into my feelings or emotions on a situation or sharing all my views. And so learning what the other person's perspective is on those things.

Marco Blankenburgh:

I think it comes back to what Julie mentioned earlier, that it's really about being specific about those behaviors, and learning to be specific learning to have conversations about that. And it's fascinating, I was reminded, as you were speaking about, you know, this, there's seven ways to build new habits. And one of the one of the ways to do that is to actually create a richer language around the topic. Because then you can start talking more deeply and meaningfully about the topic. And as you build your vocabulary, you start to also articulate the why and why something works and why it doesn't work. And that's what I love about the intercultural work. But, you know, we've talked about the three colors of worldview, we mentioned, actually, three or four of the, the 12 dimensions of culture as well. And having that language becomes so helpful, as you start to build the the shared cultural space in relationship. Now, of course, we live in a world where intercultural part of of life has become much bigger. And it's not just exclusively for the large metropolitan areas of the world. But people are seem to be drifting everywhere. And what I noticed recently, there was a study about it as a global risk study. And what fascinated me was that in that study, they asked people from around the world, what are you most concerned about when it comes to season that we live in, and people were seeing? One of the top three was actually that people were concerned about the erosion of the social fabric of society. And I was just wondering, from the lessons that you've learned, if people are concerned about the erosion of the social fabric, as in relational bridges seem to be crumbling. How would you advise our listeners to to build those bridges, across friends, loved ones, neighbors in the neighborhood colleagues at the sports club? What would be practical ways that people can build Cultural Bridges? How have you done it? And how would you encourage our audience to do the same thing,

Thelma Dzirbik:

for first thing that comes to my mind is really remembering that everyone needs a friend, I realized that even being at work with some friendships that I've gotten to enjoy that really started off by me just choosing to seat a little bit closer to the person than being off in the other corner. It's free in the country. And I think that that just maybe made the person feel like I was trying to invite them, and really given a smile and saying, Hello, How's work going? Exciting those the person like little complimentary comments, conversations. I find helpful. And I think, even though I mean, yes, I guess because we've come out of COVID and people have been locked away for so long. I think there is a sense that people have forgotten social cues in the sentence, but even still just remembering that people would still like to interact. Of course not invading people's personal space, but seeing kind of being on the lookout for who doesn't really Mind setting up a conversation.

Bryce Dzirbik:

That's very practical. Yeah, and take it really just taking the time to seek to get to know other people. It takes time. And I think, especially with intercultural relationships, and with time too, the more personal method you can use to get to know someone, the better. So like often, even communicating with someone from a different culture over chat or WhatsApp can be very challenging. Whereas if you're able to do a video chat or meet in person, it's a lot easier to communicate. You can see facial cues to use hand language, they can see your lips as you're speaking. You can do things together, like share a meal that are bonding. So like as you seek to spend time really doing that in person together is really helpful.

Marco Blankenburgh:

That's great. That's great.

Julie Heiligenberg:

Yeah, my story. My brother once told me it was really a beautiful story. He he travels for work. He's traveled for years all over the states, especially the nation. And he said he started just asking people, what's your story? What's your story? Everywhere he went, he would say, what's your story? And he said, I learned so much from people, all ages, all stages of life. But one travel one trip he had he met a guy from Pakistan. And he said, Well, I'm actually here on asylum. And I'm waiting and waiting three years, and trying to support my family and stay here. And it really gripped my brother's heart. And he came home one day, as I told him, it's this, this family from Pakistan, what do I do? How do I get to know them, I said, Well, you know, they don't live in your city, but every time you fly through just to spend some time with them. And so he actually started making a point to go, every time he would fly through their city would stop and spend time and have a meal with them. And eventually, it turned into he invited the whole family to his house in San Diego, to spend the weekend, and just hang out and be together. And he learned that he had connections and people who could help their family. And so he used any connections that he had to just honor this family and say, Hey, I just want to help out any way I can. And they became really good friends. And it really was a life changing experience for my brother. And a beautiful way of just entering into a natural relationship, you're doing your daily job, maybe he's flying around, and just someone who just starts sharing their story and connects with your heart, and you connect with them. And you stay in that you don't just say, Okay, see you later, he didn't want to just say See you later, he really, really wanted to go farther than that, and wasn't even living in the same city. And that was just, it was really eye opening to me how it does take time it takes intention to when you're going across filters to learn to understand and and touch their hearts, and how do you honor them and care for them and vice versa?

Marco Blankenburgh:

And I think that's what you mentioned this your brother's question really gets at the heart of what people are, are looking for. They want their life, their life story, who they are, who they have become and how they've become who they are. They want that to be recognized. They want a chance to share that. So that's a beautiful question. I love it.

Bart Heiligenberg:

Yeah, when it comes to social cohesion, what stands out to me, and I still use that. Starting a go further still do was actually a meme that affected my posts on Facebook with a lot of research behind it. And the meme set, you can only change somebody's mind over dinner. And what it means is like, you know, nobody's going to change their mind because of your opinions. The only gonna change their mind because they see the person behind the opinions. And the person behind your opinions is words, changing your mind for so I kind of radically stopped talking about politics on Facebook, because we're just gonna chase them, right? Because for the same Facebook, if I want to change somebody's mind, I just need to invest in them. I need to befriend them. I need to have them over for dinner. And then of course, the dangerous but I have to vote within and they might actually change my mind because I see what kind of person they are. Because that's what we're missing is we stopped seeing each other as people as persons. And we started seeing somebody as a caricature of the ideology or their religion or the political conviction, etc. So we need to go back to see people as people.

Marco Blankenburgh:

That's a really profound part. I think that's so important. Because if we don't then then we we can't even be in the same space with people who think different from us. than we think we have to, you know, go our separate ways, which is actually making us poor human beings, I think, well, you all on this call have had a chance to, in some way or another be enriched by being in an intercultural environment by stepping into an intimate relationship with somebody from a very different cultural background. So I'm just curious as we wrap up, what what was what would you consider the enriching part of being intercultural being in a relationship with somebody who's culturally different? How has it enriched you? I think,

Bart Heiligenberg:

Julie has invested me in so many ways, and it's part is her culture by this, her personality part is just who she is. For me, what stands out is, actually my personality resonates very much with her culture. I'm a fairly indirect personality, and I'm somebody who needs a lot of affirmation to thrive with in that culture is not happening a lot. American culture is also fairly direct, but also very affirming. So it's actually quite natural for my wife to be affirming me, because that's part of the culture. And that really enriches me. Now, of course, I'm still learning to afford my wife all the time as well, because she needs to just as much but I grew up in that culture. Yeah,

Julie Heiligenberg:

yeah, I think it's humbling you realize that your ways and the way you were with the way you grew up the way you see things, man, everybody seems that way. And I think the more relationships you get into, with different people, even marrying cross culturally, you just learn to step back and not be so quick to respond with opinions or this is the way you do things. And you learn to ask more questions. So tell me why you say that. You know, where does that come from? And it's, it's made me a better person. It's made me more compassionate. It's made me more loving, and open learning languages, understanding people, is stop around wherever you're going or walking or traveling. And you notice people you notice real people from all around. And I don't think I did that growing up so much, not even in my own town. And wherever I go, just just looking for ways to love people to honor them to help to serve to care to say, Hey, what's your story to take the time? And of course, Bart just completely enriches me just who he is his love and his heart for people. Everywhere we go, even our kids like, Where's papa? He's talking with someone. Where's Papa he's talking with is just we he's a little bit behind us because he saw someone and he just takes the time to stop. And I've learned a lot from him in that, that just to observe around what's going on and just be in my own little world. And as really made me want to pass that on to our kids and to other people around me.

Marco Blankenburgh:

inspirations. Bryce Salma.

Thelma Dzirbik:

Think for me something that I mean? Yeah, Vice definitely inspires me in so many ways, just because of how different we are even in personality. But he's definitely just enriched me to look at the wall from a different point of view. I, for Bryce, he would be the one that will be more slow to speak, then I would be, and I think just does my personality. By I think honestly, seeing the way he would take more time to listen to someone and see where they're coming from. And then when he speaks, they kind of feel like he can relate to them has just really enriched me to think of being the same. And so I think that's something that has, yeah, I've said practice a lot more. And I think just seen also with Bryce's family, I mean, I got the chance to visit his family earlier this year. And just seeing how much they would spend time with each other. And not just spend time watching TV together, but actually asking each other how to do it. So in my like, where I'm from, you spend time doing things together. And really at the end of the day, you spend hours together, but you don't really know how someone's doing because you're not really accent intentional questions. And so I show up to Bryce's family and it's completely opposite. His mom's asking me how I'm doing and she's asked me how it works going. And she's following up on something I mentioned a long time ago. And I'm like, Whoa, interesting. How do you remember that? But I think just that culture has really, uh, that really stood out to me. And it just really is that well, I actually do that more like people have things that they want to share things that you're thinking about. And if I can follow up or ask questions that they can share, and they can get a listening ear, or even a shoulder to lean on. So I think that's something that has been enriching for me,

Marco Blankenburgh:

wonderful.

Bryce Dzirbik:

Rice. For me, I think, thinking back on her different views and time, some really helped me learn what does it look like to love other people and to prioritize people over plans or time, like, there's a time share to show up on time. But there's also a time to be flexible, to actually get to care for people. And for me not to be so stuck in my plans for the day that I miss out on opportunities to care for other people, or to make time to care for other people. And so I think, seeing how my wife makes the time to really get to know and care for many other people be flexible to do that. It's an encouragement to me. That's

Marco Blankenburgh:

fantastic. And as you as you're sharing how intercultural relationships have been rich, too, I'm reminded of something that has also come out of COVID. And we see that in teams, in organizations that the topic of creating relational strength or relational capital is all of a sudden, hot again, and teams say we need to get stronger in relationship on this team, because that carries us through and it lifts us up. And as you are sharing how you've enriched each other, I'm just reminded of that, and how, yes, it's true in in with loved ones, but it's also as true in relationships with our colleagues at work. Well, thank you so much for this conversation. I'm sure we could easily keep this going for much longer, Chuck the time equation out of the window and just focus on relationships. But if, if you've been listening to this podcast today, and and you want to keep that conversation going then in the notes, you'll find ways to connect with the people on this podcast. But also I want to mention something that's really dear to my heart. Bart and Julie have now for a number of years been running thriving intercultural marriage workshops since COVID. Coffee, of course, virtually. And if you are intrigued by applying deep intercultural understanding to your relationship, then yeah, highly recommend that you reach out to Barton, Juliet, they have such a wealth of knowledge and wisdom. And they've taken scores of couples through a very powerful program. So highly recommend that thank you, Bart. And Julie. Thank you, Bryce. And, Thelma, for joining us today. Really appreciate this. And thank you for, for making the time to be on this podcast.

Bart Heiligenberg:

Yes, I pleasure. Thank you for inviting us.

Bryce Dzirbik:

Pleasure.

Thelma Dzirbik:

Our pleasure. Thank you so much. Thanks, Marco.

Marco Blankenburgh:

Thank you so much for joining us for this episode of the cultural agility podcast. If you enjoyed today's episode, share it with someone. The best way to help us out is by leaving a review on your favorite podcast, app or channel for us forward and recommend this podcast people around you. As always, if any of the topics we discuss today intrigue you, you will find links to articles discussing them in greater depth in the podcast notes. If you would like to learn more about intercultural intelligence and how you can become more culturally agile, you can find more information and hundreds of articles at knowledge works.com A special thanks to Jason Carter for composing the music on this podcast and to the whole knowledge works team for making this podcast a success. Thank you Anita Rodriquez, Ara as this backyard, gee Suraj and thanks to VIP and George for audio production, Rosalind Raj for scheduling, and Caleb Strauss for marketing and helping produce this podcast