One of the reasons of the Bello Belgo team’s presence in Caracas is teaching essential communication soft skills to the collaborators and kids of the UCABMUN-project: our academic support. For the high school students these soft skills are very useful in the MUN’s, but even more in their daily life in the barrios. In many cases the reasons of conflict disagreements and fights – and this actually applies to everybody and anywhere in the world – are caused because people have difficulties to understand each other.
During our project-preparation, Procom, a professional communication company from Leuven (Belgium) trained us in training the necessary skills. Then, we adapted these seminars to the world of our sixteen-year-old target group. The subjects of these workshops: coping with people’s behaviour, conflict solving, team building, negotiation, facilitating and presentation skills. Before teaching the kids these soft skills, we had planned to first test the workshops on our colleagues of the UCABMUN and this is what we did last Wednesday.
On the program: the workshop Coping with people’s behaviour or how to focus on recognizing behavior characteristics. The theory goes as follows: characteristics of behavior can be grouped into four major “personality styles”, resulting in 4 types of persons: Blue, Red, Yellow and Green tinted people. The main message we tempted to bring was that if you know how to categorize a person, you are able to improve your relation with him or her.
We had discovered our personal colors ourselves in the past few weeks and were eager to help our Venezuelan partners to do so too. An intelligent exercise had to demonstrate them how; each of them had to join a group representing their color and each group had to make a weapon shield in 10 minutes! Easy task you think? During the drawing, the red group produced the most decibels: their shouting and screaming showed their result driven capacities and the fact that they are bad listeners. On the other corner of the room we saw some ‘blue’ introverted thinkers, being silent and demonstrating perfectionism by completely redesigning a new weapon shield after not being satisfied with the original one. Most important for the yellow team was having fun and being social. Indeed, these people are rather emphatic and sociable persons and this reflected itself in a drawing of hands holding each other…We had a good laugh.
Our Venezuelan partners learned a lot. Being over 20 years old and discovering their real ‘color’ for the first time was an eye-opener for most of them. The big take-away of this workshop was that from now on everybody within the UCABMUN would understand the behaviour of one other. The Bello Belgo guys already had gone through this exercise in the hard way (you don’t want to know how many ‘fights’ we have had so far…). So, with the theory in our minds, all of us should now be perfectly capable of adapting ourselves in our ways of acting: the recipe of a fruitful collaboration. Next step would be to bring this message to the kids!
Surprised by the flow of information and our motivation to exchange knowledge, our Venezuelan friends took the opportunity to surprise us the day later. Thursday night we had planned a movie-night with one of Belgians most famous movies, ‘Memory of a Killer’ (de zaak Alzheimer). After a course on the history of Belgian movies, they suddenly showed up with some of the best food we had eaten so far: the typical Venezuelan ‘Kebab’, namely Arepas, a dish made of ground corn dough! Really delicious! As for desert, we had the honour to have a taste of the Venezuelan quesillo, a mix of eggs, condensed milk and caramel…mmm.
Michael & Koen