Category Archives: change

Expat Life: Culture Shock May Be Inevitable But Pain Is Optional


cultureshock

At one point or another new expats will get a “lecture” about “Culture Shock” as it is explained in this video:

Not every expats experience that sequence of emotional reactions and saying this is “normal” is not removing the pain or discomfort. Often people who do not experience this “one size fits all” approach may feel “abnormal” or less competent than typical expats and sometimes think they are a failure not able to cope with their struggles while living abroad.

It is important to acknowledge first the feelings without judgement and then look at individual best coping strategies. You can’t change things you have no control about but you can change the way you think and from a new perspective make necessary changes to get the most of your expatriation.

Sometimes friends are not enough and it is important to allow yourself to find professional help.

If you need someone to deeply listen to you and help you solve issues you have as an expatriate, Please Send Me Your Message  for a complimentary coaching session

Related articles: 

What is Bio Leadership ?


Not another change initiative? Some ideas on how change really works and implications for leaders. (See on www.slideshare.net )

Anne Egros‘s insight: Great presentation!

What’s new about leadership ?

No more top down approach. Leaders must deal with rapidly evolving times in the era of social networks, tribes, multiple locations, identities and cultural diversity.

Senior managers won’t overcome established routines and competing interests by giving lectures. More than ever, we are talking about revolution, no more quiet evolution and leaders must be part of the system, feel it and find links among smaller groups randomly distributed in the organization to get enough momentum for change.

Viral leaders think organizations are like a human body, they strategically  “infect” the network with suggestions via the right people. New ideas usually start from small groups of early adopters and then spread in the whole system when it is clear that new behaviors and new processes have meaning and benefits.

For me the next level of evolution of viral leadership is “bio leadership” using ideas as stem cells that have the potential to become any type of cell in the body. One of the main characteristics of stem cells is their ability to self-renew or multiply while maintaining the potential to develop into other types of cells. With stem cells, the body does not recognize them as “external objects” like viruses.

Bio leaders need to identify and enable agents of change, rule breakers and other creative people in various groups within the organization itself so immunity and resistance to change is minimized. Then those people can not only spread new ideas but also help develop highly personalized solutions for different types of challenges such as launching a new product in different countries and cultures.

See on www.slideshare.net

Age 5: Your First Career Mistake


See on Scoop.itInternational Career

Watch this video and learn why you need to go back to being a kid if you want to find real career happiness!

Anne Egros‘s insight:

What did you answer when you was a kid to this question : What do you want to be when your grow up ?

Most of the time your answer was to please and impress the adults that counted most in your life.

As adults, chances are high that we pursue a career to impress others. Not because we truly follow our passions.

Pause and think about it and be honest with yourself :  what do you want to say when someone ask the question : What do you do ?

Is this really what you love to do ?

Are you living someone else dream ?

Who do you want to impress or please as an adult ? Your boss, spouse, friends, etc?

Watch the video and think about what will be your life if you could do the job you truly  love ?

Are you ready for a career change ? Contact Us and find out.

Why Incentives Do Not Always Motivate Employees ?


Maslow

Intrinsic motivation is what works once people get enough money to have their basic needs met.That is the principle of the Maslow’ Pyramid of needs.

Some people think that Maslow’s theory is not valid anymore, yet I agree with Tom Fisburne on his analysis of relation with what  brands offer, pricing and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

If we assume that we are talking about an environment where people have  enough money  for “paying the bills”, then external rewards of any types wont’ motivate people on the  long run. They will expect to get more each time and ultimately lose interest if rewards don’t increase. It is a kind of “incentive addiction”, it destroys more than it stimulates.

Any goal setting exercise should start by the end : What benefits  do you expect if you reach a specific goal ? or only half of the goal or making the efforts but not succeeding ?

Visualization of achieving a goal can help better define:  Why do you choose this goal specifically ? What benefits will you get versus the energy you invest to this particular goal rather than another ?

Read our previous article on Why people don’t Do What you Tell Them To Do “

If you don’t know why you are doing what you do and nobody tells you how you contribute to the big picture, if nobody encourages you and say thank you from time to time or if you don’t have the resources for doing your job well, then external reward only will demotivate people. I think it is impossible to make someone passionate against his or her will, but it is very easy to kill the fire within passionate people.

What Keeps YOU Motivated ?

Related Articles:

7 Most Common Thinking Errors Expatriates Make


I am going to focus mainly on people moving abroad or expatriates going back home but the theory applies to anybody experiencing  emotional stress when moving to unknown environments.

During  big life changes, we experience stress, overload, or threat and often lose control of our emotions and make “thinking errors” or distortions about the reality. Our thinking process starts by interpretation and processing events that leads to our emotional and behavioural responses. Since a wrong thinking leads to a wrong behavior it is important to be aware of our thinking.

Many people heard about “culture shock” but most of the new expatriates are not aware of what that process means to them until they are really confronted to a succession of emotional ups and downs. Same with the grieving process, also called “reverse culture shock” that most expat families experience when they return to their home country.  In both cases our states of mind impact our well-being. Here a great video that explain the “repat grief “.

Professor Aaron T. Beck, first described the theory behind “thinking errors” or “cognitive distortions”  that  our brain make under stress that impair our judgement of a situation leading to poor decision-making, irrational behaviors or depression.

Here the 7 most common “thinking errors”,  or “cognitive distortions”, expatriates make when experiencing culture shock or reverse culture shock

1. Filtering-failure to consider a neutral, or balanced, point of view

Evidence that supports your bias is selected, favored, or weighted more heavily than evidence contrary to your bias. We take the negative details and magnify them while filtering out all positive aspects of a situation. For example you may conclude that everything was better before you moved abroad and you are constantly whining about your new life: the food is bad,  traffic is terrible, people are rude etc. You are so focused on the negative that it is hard for you to meet new people or learn about your new culture thinking your expat life is like being in jail.

2. Polarized Thinking -evaluating experiences on the basis of extremes

In polarized thinking, things are either “black-or-white.” It implies that something can only be one or the other, but not both. Consider the image on the left, an optical illusion, demonstrating the limitation of our visual perception system:  we can only see either the old lady or the young woman at any one time but not both. Taking sides polarizes opinions and hardens attitudes, creating conflict and separation between different cultures. So be careful if you are abroad and embarked in a political or religious debate,  people passionate at those topics typically have strong opinions about what is right or wrong and you may jeopardize good business deals by giving a polarized opinion, so be subtle.

3.Jumping to conclusions

The Ladder of Inference describes this type of  thinking process starting from our perception and interpretation of a fact to a decision or action (see right).

It is very easy to get into trouble when we don’t know the social rules and etiquette of a new culture and filter other people attitudes according to our own cultural rules. For example we might think that a certain group of people are not sincere because they don’t look straight in  the eyes when talking, while it is interpreted as rude by many Asian cultures.

For example :

  1. Fact :Julie is late at the meeting
  2. Interpretation: Julie does not care about this important meeting
  3. Assumption : Julie  is French and I know two other French people who are often late too
  4. Conclusion : French cannot be trusted

It is interesting to note that time has not the same value in different cultures, Latin cultures like the French see time as elastic, being 15 minutes late to a meeting is not considered impolite or showing lack of interest, while in North American, time is money and you are supposed to arrive just on time at meetings.

4. Overgeneralization.

In this cognitive distortion, we come to a general conclusion based on a single incident or a single piece of evidence. If something bad happens only once, we expect it to happen over and over again. For example we can have our wallet stolen and conclude that the all country is unsafe while in reality this event could have happen anywhere.

5. Blaming.

We hold other people responsible for our pain, or take the other track and blame ourselves for every problem. Nobody can “make” us feel any particular way — only we have control over our own emotions and emotional reactions. For example a frustrated accompanying spouse may feel resentful towards the working partner because she thinks she made all the efforts having left behind, friends, family and often a  rewarding career and gain nothing in return but struggles.

6. Shoulds.

We have a list of ironclad rules about how others and we should behave. People who break the rules make us angry, and we feel guilty when we violate these rules.  When a person directs should statements toward others, they often feel anger, frustration and resentment. For example “My colleagues should never speak their own language when I am meeting with them, that is really rude “

7. Always Being Right.

We are continually on trial to prove that our opinions and actions are correct. Being wrong is unthinkable and we will go to any length to demonstrate our rightness. For example, “I don’t care how badly arguing with me makes you feel, I’m going to win this argument no matter what because I’m right.” In companies where there is a tendency to take all decisions at the Headquarters (ethnocentric culture), this attitude could encourage expatriate executives to patronize their local teams instead of favoring a dialogue and generating new ideas

If you are experiencing  those kind of  struggles, it won’t help if I tell you that almost all expatriates have been in your shoes, but talking to a professional coach, may make your life easier in only few sessions. Talk to me and check how I can help you.

Related articles:

Moving Overseas? Don’t Make Big Decisions Under pressure!


If you are an expatriate moving abroad this summer, chances are high that you are under great pressure and stress. You have made the decision to relocate few months ago, although it feels like years. Your partner is already working in your future country and you are the “trailing spouse” in charge of executing the relocation strategy. Now unexpected problems are suddenly on your way and you are facing many dilemmas.

Here some common questions expats have to ask themselves that can lead to really bad decisions if we are overwhelmed and under stress:

  • Should I sell or rent my house while living abroad ? ( Read : http://www.expatguy.com/)
  • What shall I do If the house is not sold before leaving ?
  • How should I sell my car? to a car dealer or a stranger on eBay or Craig list ?
  • Shall I plan the packing date before finding my new house abroad?
  • What do I need to  put in local storage and what must be shipped overseas ?
  • Should I rent a temporary apartment in my new destination or make a house hunt a priority before moving
  • What should I do about schools if my children are on waiting lists of several schools and cannot go to local school due to language barrier ?
  • Should I stay one more school year where I live to get more time to plan the move ?

It is not rare that we have to make big decisions when we are under some kind of pressure such as lack of time, social pressure, too many options, not enough information, highly complex situations or emotional stress.

When we are under pressure, rushed and stressed we are not in the best situation to make rational decisions.  Our emotional brain takes the control of our rational brain, and we make emotional decisions to get instant gratification and relief from the pressure. For example some people overeat or overspend when they are in such emotional state that leads to either poor decision-making or impaired impulse control.

Most of the time, pressure can’t be avoided but we can learn to switch our mind to a non-emotional and objective state to make the best decisions we can based on facts while being conscious of the emotional part of the decision process.

To get an objective mindset is really important to avoid making a bad decision we will regret for years to come. We can’t eliminate all the subjectivity of our emotions, bu we can minimize that bias and make the best decision we can  with the information we have.

Here some tips on getting a quiet mind and make rational decisions:

1-Don’t panic: The worst thing that can happen is to rush decisions too early

2-Keep your options open as long as possible : Don’t plan packing before you know the size of your future home. Better to spend money on flight tickets than having to deal with costly shipment and trashing your furniture.

3-Plan for the worst-case scenario : In case things don’t work overseas have a plan to go back where you live (keep your house for example)

4-Recognize your limitations:  You are not Captain America or Wonder Woman, nothing should be perfect. You have to admit that sometimes you can be an insecure person who doesn’t like to show shortage of knowledge.

5-Keep your pride and ego away You told the world you are going to live a great adventure abroad, friends said goodbye and you keep going just because you don’t want to admit you made a mistake. Better have shame than regrets

6-Be incredibly selfish:.Most trailing spouses are women who put other’s needs before their own needs: children, husband, old parents and so on. To be selfish is about taking the time to focus on your needs, listen to your emotions and to take care of yourself no matter how busy you life is. To be selfish is not being needy or egoist, it is a very healthy habit that helps create both emotional and physical well-being. You create more inner peace, joy and a natural balance.

7-Stay connected: As most expats you may have many expat friends on social networks like Facebook. Sharing your doubts, frustration and other emotions to like-minded people is a great coping strategy and helps you gain clarity about your thought process.. Don’t isolate yourself from local friends and neighbors because you are leaving, meet them until the last minute.

 Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is intentional

2012 – The Year Social Media Bubble Will Eventually Burst | Smedio


Today I liked this article from Douglas Idugboe, Digital and New Media Marketing Strategist,because it is clear and has no technical jargon.

If you are a non believer comparing social; media today with the 2000 dot.com bubble burst,  here some numbers that helps put things in perspective :

To reach, the 50 million users mark,

  • Radio took 38 years
  • TV took 13 years
  • Internet took 4 years
  • Facebook took less than 6 months

Read More here: 2012 – The Year Social Media Bubble Will Eventually Burst | Smedio.

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