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October 14, 2010 / Astor ICS

The Expatriate’s Real Baggage

As an expatriate manager, it’s important to realize that you are a representative of your country and of the validity of your identity in your host country.

It’s quite simple to realize that you are a living and breathing version of your country, but quite another thing to be it. You can ask yourself, what are the most important values of where I’m from? It may be equal opportunity for all, or it might be a strong sense of cultural identity. Whatever the ingredients are, you need to then ask yourself if they fit into where you’re staying. Are the people accepting of those traits? Sometimes yes and sometimes no.

You must think like a diplomat and like a respectful visitor. The diplomat listens calmly to differing points of view, searching for a connection or some common ground. This opens the mind more  and creates the mood of deep listening, essential for good communication and mutual understanding. The respectful visitor follows customs, or at minimum, respects them as different and, ever so graciously, separates him or herself from the situation, while retaining common dignity and a good feeling.

As to the validity of your identity, you may have to adjust some behavioral habits that are ‘country-centric’ because of the simple fact that you probably will be misunderstood or not understood at all. We must always be careful of behavior. Also, by not being afraid to let your personality shine naturally, you will allow others to see the nature of your style and certain people will be drawn to you and you will have the basis for a good working relationship that you can build on for the future.

The world is not going away and once doors have been internationally opened, they usually stay open. As an expatriate, you need to move through those doors with ease and eloquence.

 

 

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