Global Intimacy and a Dialect No One Else Will Understand
Globalization is definitely a has been word. In the last few decades the concept has become axiomatic. We’ve grown used to talking, working with, befriending, and loving people that live their lives in a space that’s completely separate from ours. In the midst of the information we produce, our bodies inhabit places that never converge. We’ve acquired the ability to be extremely intimate with people we can only see or touch maybe once every couple of years. Or maybe we’ve retrieved it from long lost penpal-type relationships of the past.
When I traveled from Buenos Aires to Avature’s Madrid office last year, this was a part of the experiment: what would it be like to actually meet the people I’ve been chatting or video conferencing with for the past couple of years?
First I’ll make a note here since I found people have a hard time understanding this: Avature works globally so at some point or another, everyone works with everyone else, nevermind where their bodies are. There are no branches or headquarters, or smaller teams. It’s just one BIG team.
And Madrid was a big group of people I immediately wanted to be friends with. My first thought was “kudos to the Talent team, they really have their game figured out.” I had traveled 6,000 miles to test globality with my own senses and felt right at home. The only detail I recall is that in Spain you give two kisses on the cheek instead of one. Which I still feel is super weird, by the way.
I also considered that Argentina and Spain have a lot in common, sharing a language and a deep historical connection. Maybe that’s the reason they are culturally alike. But in the Madrid office, as in most Avature offices, there are people from all over the world. And like me, visitors from other places, such as the US or the APAC region, always fit right in. For example, playing football with the Buenos Aires crew.
So how do you get such a diverse group of individuals – from different backgrounds, who speak different languages, who actually don’t see each other for years at a time- to feel this let’s be friends sensation? Or in other words, how can it be that we all share the same values?
The short answer is culture, but culture is elusive to explain. So, a good example of how this works is language. At Avature we have native speakers of various languages, Spanish being the most numerous, but still our official language for business and documentation is English, since it’s the one everyone understands. But it won’t take more than a conversation in the Palermo office to understand people are not speaking Spanish. They aren’t speaking English, either. They are talking in a sort of dialect that has romance grammar, English substantives, and many loosely used software development terms.
When talking amongst ourselves, we dive into a pool of idiomatic resources that only make sense within this universe. One becomes so fluent that it’s actually common to be misunderstood when talking to non-Avature friends. Why would you use the verb mergear? That is, to merge but with the first termination of the Spanish infinitive in Spanish -ar. Ok, let’s suppose it makes sense, but why would you use it to explain how to mix dulce de leche and cream cheese to make a cake?
Language is creative, as it does not just recombine possibilities: it can generate new ways of communicating and understanding our thoughts. With culture, it happens in about the same way: a living culture constantly merges the significations people bring to the table and transforms them into something else, enabling new ways to experience the world and our place in it, giving meaning to our activities, affections, goals, work…
By building a common work culture together, people share a contact much more profound than being physically close, much like when sharing a language. This bond has roots deeper than location, team or timezone because meaning does not happen in one place, rather, it’s constantly happening everywhere. And yes, Avature’s culture is global, but not because you can find it in several points of the planet. It is more like the sky where the good old globalized world floats, a community we participate in, from our different corners of the Earth.