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Conditioned Communication is Unconscious Communication

Conditioned Communication is Unconscious Communication

A 3 minute skills and language training session!

You can only create choices when you consciously disengage from conditioned and conditional thinking!

Conditioned thinking is unconscious thinking and certainly not mindful, present thinking. It is a repetitive repetition of re-actions you feel compelled to enact or react to, because you have been conditioned to think that this is the way things are done. Or the “right” way.

Conditioned is unconscious.

How do you know you’re doing this?

Think about what you’re doing and saying and then think about where it comes from and why.

Hear any familiar voices?

Feeling an old pain?

And so, over time, we become bogged down and stuck?


We keep making the same mistakes because we keep doing things unconsciously.

Our minds, conditioned by our experiences and past, filters out everything that isn’t familiar – no matter how painful. We stick to what we know. And the more we do that the more we believe we are right and justified in our “choices” or decisions.

Here’s the real problem – the universe will collude with you and give you all the back up you need to prove yourself right.

How very limiting

Conditionals start with “if” and there are different types of “if”.

If #1 is when we talk of things that are obvious in logic, fact, always true or they serve as a threat or warning. To make your “if” sentences sound all the more serious you replace the “if” with “when”.

If #2 is when you talk about future events that you are sure will happen. This is the “if” you use when you are making projections and forecasts into a future you really have no say over. Madness I tell you. It is all a cover up because your mind has no control over the future unknown and so it sticks and stays with what it knows. It remains afraid. And when you are afraid you don’t have choices.

If #3 is when you refer to future events that are hugely unlikely or a hypothetical dream you wish would come true.

If I had more time in my day I would…

And then you stop yourself because you hear a voice telling you it is whimsical, self-indulgent crazy shit.

If #4 is when we refer to past events that we regret or criticize.

When you are compelled to (still) act according to your conditioned thinking you’ll continue thinking, and speaking, in the 2nd and 3rd conditionals and then, much later, years from now, you’ll start speaking in the 4th!

Do you really want to do that?

You can make the new crazy shit a beautiful new reality by starting now, right here in your conscious present and taking steps in the other direction. One new brave courageous step at a time.

But, you absolutely need to take the other route.

Would you like to get some pointers on how to make making choices and decisions and going after crazy new shit more exciting? More fulfilling?

Contact me. And don’t if around for too long – there is, after all, no time like the present!

PS – None of this has to do with intelligence. There are highly qualified people who are disconnected from themselves and others. Unconscious connections through conditioned and learned behavior.


Hester Bergh-Appoyer

speaker | coach| cross-cultural connector | writer

vienna | cape town | goa | new york


Collaboration and Standing Ovations!

Did you know that the word collaboration comes from the Latin word “concerto” concert and harmony and from “concertare” to bring into agreement or sing together (as in con + cantare = to sing)?

I was raised on music – a well balanced mix from rock to pop and classics. The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Moody Blues, Cat Stevens, Vivaldi, Tchaikovsky etc. A lot of time and money was spent on my “big C” cultural upbringing. I was indulged in many magical ballet performances by the local Performing Arts Council) and regularly dragged off to the open rehearsal sessions of the Durban Philharmonic Orchestra in the Durban City Hall.

What I really didn’t like was the instrument tuning and warming up that went on before a performance – to me it sounded like a cacophonous wailing. I needed the conductor to bring congruence and harmony to the clamor and commotion.

Our neighbors, were a family of musicians completely immersed in the world of classical music; they played in the orchestra, sang in choirs and taught music. Diana, one of the daughters, encouraged me to listen out for individual instruments, and to pick out the conducting elements (tempo, dynamics, cue-ing and articulation) as she had taught me to listen out for in Sergei Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf”

And then, as if by the wave of my very own baton I was skilled in aligning the instruments – discord became harmony! A symphony!

The word comes from the Latin “symphonia” a unison of sounds or harmony and from the Greek word “symphonia” also harmony and concert; “symphonos” meaning harmonious and from “syn”- together phone – voice/sound

Much of the interpersonal discord I have witnessed can be likened to the uncoordinated and un-conducted sounds of an orchestra warming up – much like the “forming” stage of a new team on a new project. Imagine you are a musician in a group of players where each musician thinks they know best and know what needs to be done (play what they have to play) when and how they want with little regard for the other musicians? Need I say more?

Achieving cross cultural collaboration must feel the same to a team, as an orchestra (and conductor) getting a standing ovation. It can only, happen when everyone; the leader(s) and team members pay finely tuned attention to the group and listen out for the individual “instruments” articulating their particular skills and talents in order to be instrumental in co-composing congruent collaboration.

This is cross-cultural competence; the ability to bring voices into agreement for conversational harmony. You want to play? Would you like to improve your skills? Contact me.

Wishing you much “music to your ears”, regards  


The “Q” in Cultural Competence – Do You Have It?


The “Q” In Cultural Competence – Do you Have It?

A 10 minute read on how to master your cross-cultural competence, a good book recommendation, a short video and 6 empowering questions that guarantee collaboration!

I was asked, just this week, what I do. I told them. Someone then said: What exactly is that?

In a nutshell? Culture is the way things get done around “here” and the way things get done around there, and over there and also over there. My job is to support people in bringing their various ways of doing things, together. In biz talk? Two words: team alignment.

Culture – is known as folklore, habit, knowledge, lifestyle, way of life and development. It is taken from “cultura”(Latin) which comes from the verb “colo” or “colere” which means to tend, care for, look after and cultivate. It also means to till the soil, farm, grow and plant.

What do I do? I tend, look after and cultivate cross-cultural connections and collaboration through clarity in conversation.

Why? To facilitate a change for the better people need to change their thinking and to change collective thinking demands a change in the conversations they are having which then leads to a “rewiring” of the brain (mindsets) and which ultimately leads to aligning new (and better) behaviors because…

But first we need to understand that modern day cultures can be described as the outcome of many different external influences and circumstances as experienced by those who set up home up in various parts of the world l-o-o-o-n-g before you and I came along.

The lessons in survival that were endured by one clan in the Saharan sun and heat, and another tribe wading their way through steamy mangrove swamps, had to be completely different to those of a group freezing their way through the Siberian cold and dark winter, don’t you agree? And, the  frequency of their repeated “lessons” became genetically imprinted values and norms over time. “Solutions” became and continue to become a part of our everyday lives – we adopt, adapt, integrate and  embody new sets of skills so often that basic assumptions become an unconscious and unquestioned reality which we, mostly, take for granted.

Repeated behavior, healthy or not, becomes a collective programming and an unquestioned group think. It’s this group think that defines a culture and creates differences. #groupbias #whywestereotype

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The Sufi Judge – Why No One Answer is Ever Right!

The Sufi Judge

Why No One Answer Is Ever Right

What’s right?

Two men had an argument so they went to a Sufi judge to settle the dispute. The one made his case and was very persuasive in his reasoning. The judge nodded approval and said: “that’s right!”
The other man jumped up and said, “Wait a minute, you haven’t heard my side of the story!” The judge told him to make his case which he did, also with sound persuasive reasoning. The judge nodded approval and said: “that’s right!”
When the clerk of the court heard this he jumped up and said “Judge! They cannot both be right!” to which the judge replied, “That’s right”.

Just like truth is all around you there is no one answer that is right; what matters is where you put your energy and focus. And remember, the answers you get depend on the questions you ask.

So, what does this have to do with cross-cultural competence?
You tell me!

Wishing you an awesome week of finding alternative truths and new answers!


Dog Sniffs and “What ifs?”

Dog Sniffs and What Ifs

Monday’s Brain Massage: “Dogs bark at things they don’t understand” Heraclitus.

I picked up two Indian street-puppies at the beginning of the monsoon in June last year. Experiencing life through their eyes has been, albeit a challenge, full of wonder. They remind me almost daily (it’s sadly getting less) to “understand” their barking. Whenever they see someone or something for the first time they bark, are apprehensive in their approach and, until they’ve sniffed it OK, they continue barking at it. Some people and things never get their OK, and that is OK because they gave it a try and a good old sniff. Not their problem anymore. 

When we are confronted with things new and “strange” we (mostly) immediately switch into negativity-bias mode. We bark at the unfamiliar. We bark our criticisms at the ideas, things and people and turn our butts to any possibilities and potential.


Where did you learn or who told you to do that?

What if you started “sniffing” a few “what if?” questions instead of bellowing “what is”? We all know that your “what is” and my “what is” isn’t really what is.

And what if, this week, you try some “what-iffing” and if you hear something you, at first, want to spontaneously bark at, try saying “hey, that’s interesting, give me some time to chew on it”. You never know what new aromas and fragrances might drift your way to make your week and day! 

Wishing you a fan-fun-tastic week,  
Contact me if you need a guiding “bark” at


The “Con” in Consent and Other Agreements!

The “Con” in Consent and Other Agreements!

“con” as found in consent – is also known as to deceive, bamboozle (love that), swindle, cheat, fool, mislead, sweet-talk, trick, double-cross and rip-off. It dates back to the 1500’s which was frequently used in establishing the “pros and cons” of something which, going back to its roots, means that “con” is against, in opposition to and opposed to.

“con-sent” comes from the Latin “comsentire” – “com” = with and “sentire” = to feel in other words to feel together, agree or give permission.

The weakness in “con-sent” is that the content of the “con” can be stronger than, or even work against, the feeling of together-ness and mutual agreement. “Con” can be you giving someone, albeit unwittingly (unintentionally), the permission to “con” you. Or someone can allow you to do something but work against you and hold you in contempt (mock, scorn or be disrespectful).

And then, more often than not, the agreement becomes a “dis”. Con-sent ends in dis-agreement, dis-con-tent, dis-approval, dis-sent, dis-pute, an eventual dis-allowance filled with regret and dis-appointment that leads to dis-integration of all that was meant and intended well. Ouch!

Think about this when negotiating or trying to reach consensus with individuals and also with close friends or family members. A lot of agree-ing might be happening only because the need to be liked or accepted is greater than the possible dis-satisfaction later.

Consider the amount of “con” you communicate and con-tribute in your interactions and activities. If there is more dis-appointment and dis-sent than you care to deal with, you can change the way you say “yes” to things.

Want to know more? Contact me here. Remember: words have power and the right words empower! 



A Poem, a Parable and a Pencil to Achieve What You Want!

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A Poem, a Parable and a Pencil to Achieve What You Want

It’s never too late to come in with my kick-butt how-to-achieve-everything-you-want-to-achieve-in-2018 tips! So, here’s a Poem, a Parable, some to do’s and tips. Grab a pencil and let’s do this!

My advice? #ratherlatethannever

Make a list of what you think you should or think you’re supposed to be doing.

Now think about what you would rather be doing. Remember energy flows where your attention goes.

Make a list of the things you dream of and the things you want to be doing.

And now think about what you really should be doing.

Somewhere between what you want to be doing and what you really should be doing lies your magic (happiness, fulfilment, sexy-ness). You’ve got to get your butt out of your “what you think you should be doing” zone.

Really. No amount of life hacks, planning, setting goals or other such exercises are going to prove useful if you base them on imperatives like should, must, have to and ought to. You don’t like it when others tell you what to do, so why are you using the same tone of voice on yourself? The only thing that is going to happen is your sub-conscious kicking into resistance mode!

I get that there will always be things which we are absolutely obliged to do but, for example, staying in a job that makes you lose color and drag your feet to work in the morning just because it feeds the family is not one of those things. You think you might be providing the best for your loved ones but what is your compliance, conformity, bad mood, passivity, frustration and complaining really putting on the table?


The sweet things in life?

Really? I don’t think so. Watch this. 

Be warned: It’s heartbreaking.

Life hacks and goals don’t work if you haven’t got you own shit sorted first. Time to think about undoing some of the stuff you’ve been attempting. Year after year. Year after every New Year.

Start the great un-do-ing! Do it now – you are never (really) going to feel like it and I get you, overwhelm is scary, but it is also normal, so get going with the undoing.

Drop your idea of “s.m.a.r.t.” goals. (Only) Use the acronym as a guideline – if you must.

Stop producing clean straight timelines.

Quit drawing upward arrows with nowhere to go at the end of the page.

Life is neither a “smart” goal, nor a straight line, nor a single upward arrow.

And, the end of the page is the end of the page.

Life is messy, scrambled, circular, confusing and connected to other humans who make it even more messy and complex. Life also gets interrupted by a host of unplanned, unscheduled, un-asked for events and people – and then – it ends.

And, life, with its crises and failures is much like a desert. The winds of change are forever reshaping the soft landscape and if you were to ever find yourself in the proverbial desert only your inner voice – or compass – will guide you to your next oasis. No straight line or mountain peak will get you out of there, no external “should’s” and no-one else’s tips either – this is your walk. You’ve got to learn to listen to your gut and admit you’re on the wrong course, change direction, and sometimes walk sideways before taking on the next dune. And know that you are going to get sand in your eyes and mouth. #anotheronebitesthedust

Think of your own deserts you have had to cross and think of the things that guided you to where you are now. You are a whole lot braver than you think you are! You’ve done stuff that needed serious guts. Like getting married, or changing jobs, or leaving home and studying far away from friends and family. We can all recount experiences that demanded personal bravery and you can draw on those resources when thinking about what you want to be doing.

For every shift that happens in your understanding of happiness and living a full-er life, power is taken from one area and given to another because two truths (or thoughts) cannot coexist or be valid at the same time. Just like you can either make money doing what you love doing or you can make complaints and excuses. You can’t do both. And the beauty of this is you get to choose. Choose wisely or else you might get to the end of your arrow on the page wishing you had another clean sheet of paper – or an eraser.

And. You going to the drawing board is only good when you know what it is you want, decide to do it and take your first step in that direction. Remember to draw dotted lines, fill the gaps with what you already have, what you need, how you think you can get them,  who can help you, by when you would like to get them done, and, how you’re going to keep the momentum going – especially when life interferes. Oh, and remember to do this in pencil and to carry an eraser around with you. You’re going to need both. Often.

The Parable of the Pencil. 

Finally my advice: tune in to your inner voice or “compass”. It is showing you the way, and I know this; it isn’t pointing to what you think you should be doing. The needle is pointing to what you want to be doing because that, when the sand-storm is over and the dust-clouds have settled, is what you really should be doing.


When in doubt ask yourself this: Is what I am doing right now, bringing me closer to my goals?

And remember you are braver and way more brilliant than you think!

I wish you a colorful, sweet sounding, healthy, safe 2018 filled with the promise of fulfilled promises and goals and remember: it is never too late to start anything!

 , your no-buts kick-butt cross-cultural competence coach!

* one way to inter- and personal mastery * 


What’s In A Word – What’s That You’re Saying? Part 2

Choosing the spell-binding POW!er of words because you can!

 A lexical approach to discovering more about ourselves, our values, life, cultures and creating a better world through the words we choose to use. 

Following up on “Confrontation Creates Conversation” (What’s in a word – What’s that you’re saying? Part 1) I thought it would be exciting to now, add a bit of POW! to make your conversations more wow!

POW! – can also be described as having clout, esteem, guts, pizzazz, say-so and “what it takes”.

Clout means to have influence, standing and authority.

Spellbinding – means to hold someone’s attention as if by magic. Also known as fascinating, enthralling, entrancing, captivating, riveting, gripping, very exciting, thrilling, absorbing, compelling, hypnotic and magical. Origins: dated back to the 1800’s from the words “spell” (magic) and “bind” (captivate).

Imagine that? You?

Sure you. Here’s how.

But first. Let’s start from the very beginning.

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HOT! Communication

Understanding What Communication Isn’t And How To Become HOT At It

The full article on page 56 of the Business Goa Magazine!


Titles, entitlement and the sweet success of serving others!

Titles, Entitlement and Sweet Success

Titles, entitlement and the sweet success of serving!

Discovering more about ourselves, our values, cultures and how to contribute to a better world through the sweet success of serving others. Written by Hester Bergh-Appoyer. Published in Business Goa Magazine, April 2017

Sweet success. Have you ever asked yourself why success is referred to as sweet? The sweet taste or smell of success? Here’s a thought. Some of us have stronger sensory filters than others, we can see, hear, feel, taste and smell success and there is the linguistic idea that sweet has been used metaphorically to refer to something pleasing since 888 CE. The earliest mention of it being used with success is 1684.

I started my career in an American company well known for its baby products and less known for its enormous global market share in surgical and optical products. But I’m not sure those “formative” years of my professional life, which have been the foundation of all my business interactions, were always to my benefit. Sometimes it served me sweetly, other times not.

So what was it that made such a big impact on my rookie mind?

It was the sweet sound of being called by my name. (Not the tone my mother used to use when she was less than pleased with me – but that is another read!)

On my first day at Johnson & Johnson I was welcomed at reception, shown around and taken to meet lots of people. Important people. I met truck drivers, warehouse packers and managers, kitchen staff, accountants, telesales staff and some of the big shots sitting in plush floored offices (bigger than my newly rented flat) as well as the CEO who was introduced to me by his first name. He already knew mine.

The embodiment of J&J’s company culture and credo is consistently demonstrated by the way they extend value to their patients, clients and employees. Click on “credo” above. Enduring mutual success is a spirit of serving that smiled and smiles through the offices and corridors in the sweet absence of titles and entitlement.

It was with this spirit to serve and eagerness to sample my own sweet success that I later went into the big wide world of international business.

Serving Others and Sweet Success

Fast forward to Kuala Lumpur and I have joined an international educational institute as lecturer in charge and head of department for the business and marketing department. Sounds grand doesn’t it?

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