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November 4, 2010 / Astor ICS

The Pull and Push of International Identity and the Expatriate

When living in another country and culture, you bring a style and manner that makes you unique where you are. This uniqueness can be used to your advantage if you are aware of your behavior, willing to understand the host country and can position yourself to be accepted and respected you’re on your way to excellence.

There is a balance point between your behaviors that you can find that will help you reach this goal and it’s being assertive and magnetic at the same time. Here are some steps you can take to build this push-pull relationship.

1. Find out what matters to your colleagues and be sympathetic to those things. By sympathetic, I mean that you learn to feel a connection to them when they are discussed. It may be politics or personal, it doesn’t matter. Don’t share your opposition to them, share your interest, like a diplomat. If asked what you think, build your response around the idea that you are trying to see their point of view and if you differ, be sure to say that it’s only your opinion. leave these subjects always open for further conversations. This pulls the other person towards you while pushing your identity.

2. Be self-monitoring. Adjust your behavior towards the middle of the scale, which usually means being a little more prudent.Your first reactions to small events with your colleagues should never be judgmental and emotional. You will most definitely be misunderstood and misinterpreted. Instead, try being a bit calm and lightly smile and engage them to see your point with patience and perseverance. This idea of watching yourself and trying to fit in to the existing situation, will build credibility and bonds for the future. Self-monitoring pulls their interest towards you while pushing away false impressions due to cultural or personal differences.

3. Make sure to learn and know about things that are outside your working world that will make you interesting to your colleagues. Be sure to have outside activities for yourself that enrich and nurture your intellect and body. If you stay in your shell, you will only know your shell. Keep reading, going to interesting events in the area, etc. If you share your experiences, not every day, but once a week or so, people will become very interested in you and they will become inquisitive. the pull is interest and the push is your energy that is active.

It’s really all about enriching your own life and awareness of yourself so others can see it and be intrigued by it. Many times the conflicts and difficulties we face at work can be overcome by a sense of true connection that we cultivate with those around us. You are there to help and so are they. Be someone solid and yet with a soft side people will come to you to help and assist you more that you could ever imagine.

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