Top Tips for adjusting to a new culture

When asked to move abroad for business, either for a project or permanently, your employee will go through many emotions. Moving into a new culture is one of the most stressful and daunting experiences any one can be faced with. What if I don’t fit in? What if I don’t understand their culture? What if I offend? These are all questions that they will pose when preparing to make the move.

If unprepared, employees could suffer from ‘culture shock’. Culture shock is the difficulty people have adjusting to a new culture that differs markedly from their own. This could then affect their performance on the work in hand, as they struggle to deal with their new surroundings.

Cross-cultural training covers many ways in which culture shock can be avoided, in interactive, face to face seminars.  Some of the tips covered in depth within these seminars include…

Arrive at the destination with an open mind. You have to prepare yourself for change as you adjust to your new surroundings, culture and ways of life. Change is always easier with an open mind, do not judge straight away, be patient. You must arrive with a willingness to observe, listen and learn.

Be open to networking. You may not speak the language, but how will you learn if you don’t surround yourself with it? Make an effort to learn some key phrases before you leave and use these in your day to day errands and in the office. Challenge yourself, networking won’t just help you pick up the native tongue, and it will allow you to form new connections and friendships, making you feel more secure in unfamiliar surroundings.

Prepare, prepare, prepare. Researching your new destination’s culture and customs before you set off will leave you in good stead once you arrive.  Reading culture guides will give you an insight into the behaviours and customs of the people you are about integrate with, and will give you a head start, as you prepare for life in your new, unfamiliar, culture.

Cross-cultural training seminars will offer your employees all the tips and knowledge they need, to prepare themselves for their new challenge within their new cultural surroundings.

2 thoughts on “Top Tips for adjusting to a new culture

  1. You have some good points here, thanks. I agree that preparation is an important key to a successful assignment abroad. You mentioned that it’s important to research your destination’s culture and customs. I would add that it’s equally important to become aware of your own cultural assumptions before going abroad. This could happen through intercultural training. If we aren’t aware of the way that we naturally communicate, view the world and define ourselves, we might assume that those things are universal when we go abroad. Therefore, cultural self-awareness should be the first step in developing intercultural skills when we prepare to go abroad.

    Thanks and I look forward to reading more!

    • Thanks Lindsay,

      Very good point about viewing the world through your own cultural assumptions. Watch out for our upcoming blog on developing a multicultural mindset which touches on the very same point!

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