Have you ever been on a “team” where someone just makes you feel crazy because they are so focused on “getting the job done”? Or, does it frustrate you when a team member insists that everyone needs a chance to contribute and that every contribution be discussed?
The truth is the most successful teams have both “task-oriented” members and “relationship-oriented” members! Without the task-oriented members the job may be delayed or incomplete and without the relationship-oriented members, the most creative solutions may never come to light. Until you are on a team where you experience this, you may not even know you have a preference between “task and relationship”.
So what does this have to do with living internationally? Until you leave “home” you are like a fish in water. You have learned directly or indirectly the “right way” to behave in various situations. Once you move into another culture, you are likely to find yourself confused or frustrated. Some situations may even be emotionally charged, because your personal or organizational values are conflicted.
The secret to being competent in an international setting begins with being culturally self-aware. What are your preferences and understandings of how to interact and “get things done”? Just like the example of preference for task or relationship, you have preferred ways of communicating, a certain tolerance for risk taking, an expectation about the use of time, etc. Most of us have no reason to explore these preferences until we venture into a new cultural setting!
Traveling internationally can be interesting and fun. Learning the language and about the history, geography and art of “foreign” country can really help. Unfortunately it is the actual day-to-day living that can cause frustration for even the most experienced traveler. Likewise, the most effective leader can have his or her confidence shaken when trying to “get things done” in a new international setting.
It is important for you to understand that this is a normal part of the transition process. Try to relax! Just know it takes time to figure out what is actually going on and then decide what it will take for you to be successful in the new culture.
We, at Collaborative Connection offer a number of formal and informal Assessments to help you clarify your own cultural point of view. It is important to consider the purpose of your assignment along with your personal and professional goals. Once you have identified your primary objectives, together we will begin exploring the skills and knowledge you need to be successful.
You will have an opportunity to choose from a wide range of approaches and support options. Some suggestions based on your stage of transition are:
Entering into the new culture with a greater understanding of:
- Cultural Values and Expectations
- Communication Styles and Preferences
- Culture Shock and Culture Fatigue
- Travel Safety
Maximizing the advantages of your international experience by:
- Decoding Confusing and Emotionally Charged Experiences
- Self-Managing and Adjusting to Paradoxical Situations
- Deepening Personal Leadership Style and Adaptability
- Effectively Managing and Facilitating Cross-Cultural Teams
Making the most of your cross-cultural learning experience through:
- Recognizing reentry as an Individual Experience (even for members of the same family)
- Normalizing Unexpected Challenges and Frustrations
- Identifying and Reflecting on Lessons Learned
- Developing Strategies for Sharing Lessons Learned
- Exploring Possibilities and Planning for the Future
- Discovering Options and Planning for Retirement