A couple of years ago, I was in Oman, running a Management Audit course for a dozen employees of a well-known petro-chemical conglomerate. The group they had sent me was the usual mix of nationalities, religions and language abilities.
Years of practice meant that I could judge how difficult or easy the week was going to be within a couple of hours of our first meeting. In keeping with my own tradition, I asked the course participants to interview each other and then introduce the person they’d interviewed. That gave me an idea of what they were all about but more importantly, their English Language skills.
We were is a very posh hotel for a week which gave me the opportunity not only to teach them some “hard-skills” but as usual, I planned to spend some time with each delegate informally – especially those who I felt might be “shy” and not ask questions or fully participate.
Having spent many years in hotels all over the world, I have two very simple rules: When I’m working I don’t drink alcohol or eat abnormally. However, this particular course turned out to be an epic which caused me to break one of my rules, for a very unexpected reason.
The Brazilian delegate spoke Linguaphone American (what I call the “tennis-player” accent) and although his English was passable, he was the most withdrawn of the whole group. He was the lone accountant …the others ranged from a couple of crazy drillers from the USA to a petrol station manager from Poland…all wildly extrovert.
On the second night, I asked the Brazilian to sit with me over a drink to see how he felt. We chatted about this and that, he noticed that I was nursing a lime juice. “Don’t you drink alcohol?” he asked.
” I MOST certainly do,” I replied…”but never when I’m running a course.”
” I see you are drinking LIME. Have you ever tasted a proper Vodka and Lime?”