How have you managed stressful events and transitions in the past?
Everyone has different ways of managing stress. Experiencing discomfort and stress during the cultural adaptation process is a normal part of the process. Taking some time to think about strategies in how you can manage this process now can ease the transition later on.
1. Immersion: What are your interests? What parts of the new culture do you want to explore and immerse yourself into? Language, Art, Architecture, Food, Sports, etc.?
2. Escape: There will come that moment when you’ve had enough of the host culture, the new language, feeling lost and overwhelmed. What are some ways you can manage this and pull out for a bit from the culture to rejuvenate and re-energize? Perhaps a trip away, finding a good book in your native language, seeing a film, going for a walk – anything that provides an emotional and/or physical distance from the culture for a moment.
3. Maintaining: When everything around you appears to be changing, new and different, what will remain the same for you? What is a constant? What are some of your favorite things to do? What about individual and family rituals you would like to continue, regardless of the ‘where’ in your life? What continues regardless of all that has changed?
4. Stress Management: We have all experienced stress at one time or another in our life. How do you manage stress and discomfort? Exercise, talking to friends, writing, yoga, meditation? Keep in mind the ability/availability to practices these stress management techniques in your new host country.
We include reflection periods in all of our workshops. Depending on the workshop, this can be up to 2 hours!
Because it makes a difference. It leads to Sticky Learning, one of our main goals in delivering our programs to our clients.
In a recent study from the HEC Paris, employees who spent the last 15 minutes of each day of their training writing and reflecting on what they had learned did 23% better in the final training evaluation of what they have learned and what they are able to do: new skills and competencies.
Conclusion: Learning by doing is more effective when combined with deliberate and planned reflection, or learning by thinking, the study shows.
Accepting the Present Moment
Rumi says it best in the poem, The Guest House.
How do you accept the various guests in your own house?
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
~ Rumi ~
We've included a handful of skills and attitudes necessary for successfully working and managing across cultures.
What would you add?
The ability to build trust across cultural barriers is vital, especially when some of the behaviors that we regard as evidence of trustworthiness may be interpreted as signs of unreliability in another environment. (Example: the sharing of confidential information among close associates may be regarded either as a means of building trust or as a sign of un-trustworthiness.)
The members of a multicultural group must develop behaviorally encoded forms of respect that are practiced by each participant. (Examples: asking for input from each participant; waiting for others to finish their thoughts.)
The challenge for managers in a multicultural environment is to listen for what they do not expect to hear. Can you deal with new information that is beyond the range of your normal common sense assumptions? (Example: markets where advertising is a new concept and “customers” have not normally been seen as important.)
In certain cultural contexts what is not said is more important than the literal content of the discussion. (Examples: forms of dress, subtle gestures, the rich shades and flavors of silence.)
Being able to sense and respond to the feelings of your foreign counterparts, while vitally important, can also be very difficult because the cues are unfamiliar. (Examples: the smile that could signal discomfort, or exaggerated emotional displays that are calculated to probe for concessions.)
Caterpillar Spirit’s workshops, trainings and coaching programs provide valuable strategies, tips and support to manage the challenges mentioned above.
If you're experiencing some of these challenges and looking for support, contact us to learn more. We look forward to hearing from you.
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