ECCO. expands to Europe!!!

Exciting news! 

ECCO. Consulting in Cultural Competence  moves its headquarters to Germany. It will open its office in Trier, Germany's oldest city in the Southwest of Germany in February 2017. Trier's proximity to Luxemburg and more than 400 nations that work and live together there, make it a prime spot for intercultural work. Surrounded by beautiful vineyards and ancient roman buildings, this location offers the ideal environment for a great work-life balance amidst a thriving international community and the seat of the European Parliament in Luxemburg. A further expansion to Luxemburg is planned. 

Please stay tuned for address changes and other news.

Our phone number has already changed : We can be reached now at ++49-1522788615

We are looking forward to welcoming you to the Old World.

On behalf of the team,

Anne Ehringhaus

Juy 29. 2015

Experience the Power of Letting Go -One-day Retreat in beautiful Maine


December 10, 2014

Dignity and Leadership: Why Leadership can only be successful when dignity is at play

I just finished Donna Hicks’ book Dignity: The essential role it plays in conflict resolution (Yale University Press, 2011) and frankly, it is a revelation for me.

So much so, that I want to share what I learned.

I have been trained in many techniques and methods for leadership and personal development, but the dignity model gets in simple terms to the bottom of it: The nature of how humans interact with each other and what possibilities arise if we truly connect to each other.

Now, that may sound a little flaky or touchy feely, so let me explain how this applies to leadership development:


Hicks defines dignity as feeling of inherent value and worth.  Subsequently, humans need to be treated in a way that shows them that they matter.

In order to do so, humans have to recognize each other’s value and their own value regardless of position, education, social background etc.

I think it is clear, what that applies to leadership:

Only when we accept the inherent worth of the people we work with as well as our            

For example, how many times have you passed somebody in your office without really noticing this person? How many times have you engaged in a meaningful conversation and showed a person that s/he matters?


On a neurological level, the limbic system in the brain is triggered when we treat each other with dignity and this results in a feeling of security.

Simply put: Employees stay longer in a company and contribute more, if they feel safe and valued.


Hicks points out 10 Essential Elements of Dignity


1.     Acceptance of Identity

Interact without prejudice and bias:

If you embrace the idea of inherent worth, than prejudice is obsolete. When employees feel that they matter, they don’t have to worry about prejudice. Prejudice is a major dignity violator and decreases productivity.

2.     Inclusion

Make others feel that they belong.  When on an organizational level, make sure that everybody can identify with the organization and that everybody is heard. Only an open-minded working environment can lead to innovation and employees who give their best.

3.     Safety

Leading means keeping people safe, both physically and psychologically. Only people who feel safe will speak without fear and address obstacles like ‘the elephant in the living room, for example.

4.     Acknowledgment

See and listen to the people in your work environment with full attention. By doing so, they will feel safe and appreciated enough to be honest and vulnerable and thus, will be more motivated and willing to contribute.

5.     Recognition

Validate others for their talents, thoughtfulness and work., and that means to be genuine by doing so.  Leaders have to develop empathy for their subordinates to truly understand and appreciate what their contribution means from their perspective.

6.     Benefit of the doubt

Start with the premise that you can trust people and that they have good motives. If you approach your employees with initial mistrust, they will feel unsafe, unappreciated and excluded. All of which are violators to their dignity and will set the stage for a non-productive relationship.

7.     Understanding

Believe that what others think matters. Make an effort to genuinely listen, perceive. Give your employees space to express themselves.

8.     Independence

Give your employees as much control over their work and their lives, for that matter, as possible. Create of space of possibility and shared vision.

9.     Fairness

Treat your employees justly and apply agreed-on rules equally. Discrimination and unfairness puts employees in a state of helplessness and frustration that will poison the performance and the working environment

10. Accountability

Be responsible for your actions. Apologize when you violate someone’s dignity and commit to change destructive behavior. By doing so, you will lead by example and inevitably create positive change.


Everybody deserves to be treated with dignity, including those who have the privilege to be in power.

If we truly listen and accept that dignity is inherent, then the roads are open to create a fulfilling, productive and nurturing environment that will result in extraordinary results accomplished by people who feel that they have value.


The dignity model makes a compelling case for strong leadership that is compassionate, caring and trustworthy.

Can you imagine how organizations could look like if we made the commitment to adhere to the 10 Elements of Dignity? I believe it would change our lives at any given level. All we have to do is to start believing that everybody has an inherent worth and value.

November 20, 2014

Now Offering New Classes (Virtual and in person) in PEP

Do you feel stressed? Anxious? Restless?

Suffering from Insomnia or Headaches?

Expecting too much of yourself?

Ready to Move Forward with Your Life??? 

Then this class is right for YOU!

The Benefit: You will be introduced to an efficient self-help tool that will support you to successfully manage undesired emotions while significantly improving self-acceptance.

The Costs: 1 free sample session, after that sessions are offered on a sliding scale ranging from $20 - $ 120.

How does it work?

PEP is a highly efficient method, developed by Dr. Michael Bohne (Hannover, D) in Germany. PEP targets inhibiting emotions like fear, anxiety and nervousness by activating positive energy points on your body. In a second step we will work on self-acceptance by creating powerful and lasting affirmations that will guide you through positive change. 

Who offers the class?

Anne Ehringhaus based in Maine,  German-trained psychologist and certified practitioner in PEP. More than 15 years of experience in counseling, psychotherapy, group and individual training with people from diverse backgrounds.


Please contact Anne at: info@eccoculture.com or call

@ 207-944-9617

Schedule your session today - they are filling up quickly!

We are looking forward to meeting YOU!

Nov 18, 2014

Growing Organizations Is Like Growing Mushrooms Really??? Here Is What We Can Learn From Nature.

Recently, I attended a professional conference in a typical U.S. business district.

On my way to the conference venue I was surprised by  a big patch of delicious meadow mushrooms right in the front yard of a huge Doubletree Hilton Hotel.

As an avid mushroom 'hunter' I admired the beauty and the abundance of these mushrooms in the most unexpected place.

Mushrooms - or fruiting bodies of an underground network (mycelium) - create their connections underneath the soil. They are part of an elaborate structure that is nurtured by an interdependent relationship.

These networks are not obvious to the eye, yet vital to the growth of the mushrooms  - very much like individuals who are part of interdependent systems within an organization. Only few of these systems are visible, many connections and relationships happen under the surface.


As organizational consultants, we need the skills to understand where and how these networks develop in order to foster employee and organizational success. Employees and organizations are in a symbiotic relationship:  Employees can not excel in a structure or a system that doesn’t respond to their needs and the organization can not grow and succeed without the engaged employees.


To really understand the complexity of organizational structure we need to take all elements into account that form this structure - just like mycologists who take a close look at where mushrooms grow, what the environmental conditions are and what the underlying network looks like. Further, we need to accept the fact that changing an organizational structure through a top-down process doesn’t necessarily change the individuals. To the contrary, it can cause alienation and subsequently the loss of precious human capital.


This applies to mushrooms as well. If the mycelium is changed in a way that isn’t nourishing, mushrooms will diminish. They cannot adjust to an environment that doesn’t foster their growth.


Let me summarize the analogy between mushrooms and individuals in an organization and the implication for organizational consulting:

·      When looking at the performance of employees and an organization, we need to acknowledge the complexity of elements that contribute to the quality of performance and the wellbeing of the organization as a whole.

·      People interact in complex systems. As consultants we need to understand what the elements of these systems are and how they relate to each other to foster positive change.

·      When working with organizations, always consider the environmental conditions in which organizations operate: What are characteristics of the industry? What are the current market demands?  Which circumstances encourage growth and success? How sustainable is the organization?  And finally: Does the organization provide a healthy and environmentally friendly working environment?


Not an easy task for consultants, no doubt. It requires curiosity and the ability to think outside the box.  It also requires the willingness to step outside the comfort zone and get acquainted with topics that reach beyond the own expertise.


Mushrooms – after all – don’t just grow bigger when you put fertilizer on them. They don’t grow back, after you picked them, either.

But they do grow in the most surprising spots surrounded by concrete walls along a three-lane boulevard– if they can be part of a well-working system of connected elements.  

September 1, 2014

ECCO. proudly announces collaboration with JP-Consulting


JP consulting is a consulting agency based in Darmstadt, Germany that specializes in change management , organizational development, training and coaching.

Jürgen Peterke, the CEO of JP-Consulting is a well-known and experienced management consultant and an expert in the field of leadership development in matrix organizations. (Fmi: JP-Consulting.de)

The collaboration between ECCO. and JP-Consulting will allow for a fruitful synergy between the strategic approach of leadership development and the cultural competence that is needed to move leadership and organizational development forward. We will now be able to offer our services on both sides of the Atlantic while maintaining effective communication and a common understanding of our respective philosophies.

We are excited to embark on a truly transatlantic journey!

April 4, 2014

Anne Ehringhaus appointed to the Ethics Resource Group of the Society of Intercultural Education Training and Research USA (SIETAR USA)

The Ethics Working Group, of which Anne has been a contributing member, has worked hard in the past year to create a Code of Ethics for Interculturalists within SIETAR USA.

As a result, the board of SIETAR USA approved the “Living Code of Ethical Behavior” which presents for the first time in the history of SIETAR USA a standard and a guideline for ethical behavior in the intercultural field.  The “Living Code” offers those colleagues in the intercultural field who committed to it a tool to reflect on professional behavior.  It also provides an opportunity for critical dialogue on ethics in the intercultural field.

Subsequently, the Ethics Resource Committee (ERC) was created and Anne Ehringhaus was appointed to serve on it.  Together with a group of very experienced and highly reputable colleagues, she will assist with the resolution of critical incidents and the enforcement of the Living Code of Ethical Behavior.


January 30, 2013

Article about the impact of culture on sustainability

The German-American Chamber of Commerce has published in its yearbook 2012 the article  "The Concept of 'Sustainability" and its Impact on Doing Business"   co-written by Anne Ehringhaus and Richard Rosen, PhD,  Senior Fellow of the Tellus Institute (tellus.org) in Boston. Using U.S. and German cultural standards as an example, Anne and Rich make the point that the underlying cultural assumptions of both respective countries have a major impact on business success, particularly for those who do business in the field of renewable energies. Please click on the link to read the article.

March 12, 2012

Anne Ehringhaus certified as PEP-trainer


PEP stands for process-oriented embodiment focussed psychology by Dr. Michael Bohne.

It is a technique that has proven to be very efficient  when symptoms of  stress, fear, anger and helplessness impact our actions and cognitions.

PEP targets areas of the brain that are responsible for dysfunctional emotions by tapping specific acupuncture points in the body. This is combined with self-accepting affirmations that turn negative narratives into positive, energizing ones.

PEP has proven to be highly efficient in leadership coaching, in dealing with stress, fear and anxiety as well as phobias.

When dealing with culture shock, PEP can help to reduce feelings of being overwhelmed and stressed by cultural differences. 

The tapping allows the brain to come back to a condition that is more capable of finding realistic solutions.

The result is a quick and powerful change towards greater success and well-being.

Ecco. offers PEP in coaching and individual trainings as well as in team-building.

March 22, 2012

Ecco. branches out into Orono, Maine

Ecco. just added another office in Orono, Maine. Being in a college town allows for great connections, inspiring professional development and a favorable infrastructure.

Ecco. is now able to offer retreats and trainings at one of the most spectacular natural environments at Moosehead Lake as well as training and coaching in an urban setting that is easy to access.

Just give us a call. We would love to meet you!

March 13, 2011

Op-ed published in the Bangor Daily News about the current push of public schools in Maine to attract international students

Foreign students bring benefits, but preparation needed

Posted March 13, 2011, at 4:31 p.m.
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It is interesting that a number of school districts in Maine have begun to think about attracting international students to live and study here. We see recent evidence of this in Millinocket and Guilford.

There are several benefits to school districts and host communities for attracting international students to live and study here. For one, the tuition these students pay to attend Maine schools will increase educational revenue and offset the decline in local student numbers. In addition, when international students live in Maine for a year, they will become a source of revenue for local businesses as they support themselves during their year of study. Last, having international students live and study in the state will provide cultural opportunities for host community residents, as noted in recent Bangor Daily News articles.

What have we learned from Millinocket’s initiative to attract international students to live and study there? In essence, we have learned that not only do local and international students have to be ready for the cross-cultural experiences, host-community residents, school districts and businesses in the host community also need to be ready. However, to ensure success, it is critical that host communities adopt a positive attitude and an organizational infrastructure that accommodate the needs and expectations of its “customers,” i.e., international students and their parents. In short, host communities  need to embrace change and value cultural differences.

So what would it take to ensure that the experiences of international students living and studying in Maine are successful? First of all, it’s critical to understand that the primary reasons parents of international students are willing to spend significant amounts of money to send their children to live and study abroad are to improve their children’s language skills and help their children develop intercultural competencies in order to increase their educational opportunities.

Accordingly, all parents considering sending their children abroad for a year will want answers to two essential questions:

What will their children gain from living and studying in Maine for a year?

How will they know if their children’s living and studying experiences in Maine are successful?

In approaching answers to these two questions, host communities will need to ask and answer several questions:

  1. Will the schools, community, and host families be prepared and have the organizational capacity for such a challenge?
  2. What will the host community and participating school districts need to do in order to ensure that international students, the community and participating schools have a positive, successful experience?
  3. How will Maine school districts, teachers and parents of international students know if the living and learning experiences are successful?
  4. How will “success” be measured and conveyed to host communities and to international students and their parents?

We believe that these questions need answers before international students come to live and study in Maine. This is especially true if success is the goal and if host communities wish to continue attracting international students. While there are clear financial and cultural benefits to attracting international students here, those benefits will evaporate quickly if the experiences of visiting students and of host communities aren’t successful.

Word of failure will travel fast, and parents of international students will choose another place in the United States to send their children. In addition, residents of host communities will begin refusing to welcome international students if their initial experiences are not positive.

With fiscal cutbacks a reality, Maine school districts need additional revenue. Clearly, attracting international students to live and study in Maine could be a viable source of revenue. Yet, is success from having international students live and study here guaranteed? No.

In order to assure success, host communities in Maine must be willing to reach out and listen to people “from away,” be intentional in creating an effective organizational infrastructure for providing excellent living and educational experiences for international students, be open minded in their efforts to understand and welcome international students, and provide clear evidence of success for parents of international students.

In the end, for success to occur it will take forethought, intentional planning and development and a sincere willingness to welcome and learn from people who come here to learn from us.

Anne Ehringhaus is an intercultural business consultant and lives near Rockwood.  Michael Ehringhaus is director of Partnerships for Reform, an educational consulting practice in Portland.