Category Archives: Coaching

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


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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: 

Dealing with Difficult People: The Know-It-All


Got a know-it-all in your life who knows everything except, perhaps, how to act like a real human being? Read on for tips on how to deal.

According to the author of this article, Susan Davis, the Know It All (KIAs) are part of the most difficult people in the world to deal with, along with :

*The bullies

*The stealth destroyers

*The “yes” people

**The complainers

*The martyrs

There are KIAs everywhere but it is particularly annoying when this type of person is your boss, employee or co-worker.

So what can you do when you are engaged in a dead-end conversation with a KIA or worse with a clique of KIAs?

No matter what you say, those people will never be interested in your ideas if they don’t think like you. They usually use criticism, condescending or sarcastic tone and even try to intimidate you.

KIA people lack basic emotional intelligence and are self-defensive trying to exclude anybody who are not admiring their intelligence or agree with their truth or faith.

As much as possible  stay calm and relaxed not trying to argue at all. You will always lose if you try to battle with their ego. In addition, it is not good for your heart and well-being as you may feel frustrated and angry.

In case having a conversation is unavoidable, then ask the KIA person questions about their field of expertise  they will be more than happy to teach you something.

See on Scoop.itGlobal Leaders

Related Article : The 5 Signs of a Bad Leader

 

Is Humility A Universal Leadership Value Across Cultures ?


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Humility in leadership can be defined as the ability to understand yourself and bring the best from other people. You must first know your talents and limitations, then recognize that you have to rely on others and empower them to discover their own strengths and manage their weak points to focus on achieving a common goal.

Global leaders and managers working in multicultural teams must manage conflicts, poor communication and lack of teamwork as a result of misunderstandings and wrong assumptions from people driven by different internal core values and beliefs.

What we know, from the work of Professor Geert Hofstede on dimensions of national culture is that some countries have high power distance such as Russia that scores 93 on a scale of 1-100 and others have a low power distance dimension like United States that scores 40.

What it means, is that in Russia the power is distributed unequally and highly centralized with 80% of the financial potential concentrated in Moscow. It also means that in high distance countries people believe that power and authority are facts of life and inequality is institutionalized. Leaders are therefore expected to have a top-down approach to solve conflicts and take important decisions. Subordinates will simply comply with their leader.

For doing business In Russia, you must understand that hierarchy and status are important and that Russians respect age, rank and position as well as technological expertise. Russians see negotiations as win-lose and compromise as weakness.

On the other hand, in lower power distance countries such as the United States, there is a preference for consultation and collaborative leadership. Subordinates are encouraged to be independent  and contribute to problem solving. In the United States. business communication is informal and based on a win-win negotiation style.

If you are coming from the U.S. or another low power distance country when you have to deal with high power distance countries like Russia, you need to take your time  to understand who has the power of making decisions, otherwise nothing is going to happen especially when dealing with the administration and its very complex bureaucracy. For Americans, “time is money” but trying to force Russians to take quick decisions will only delay the processes and decrease trust.

So in a sense, humility in business negotiation is highly valued by Russians in general as humble business leaders have patience, try to understand first  and at the same time are strong enough to deal with conflicts without showing any sign of arrogance or superiority.

Most of the studies on humility as a value in leadership have been conducted in the United States and therefore it is difficult to separate the empirical and anecdotic from the real science-based evidences.

Leadership is a question of character (integrity, confidence, curiosity), not temperament (biology and genetics), therefore it is possible for global leaders and expatriated managers to learn cultural differences and the benefits of humility, holding judgment and avoiding placing one culture above another.

The role of effective intercultural leaders is to shape the corporate and local cultures of their organization to be understood and embraced by individuals of all races, ethnicities, religions, and genders with a minimum of misunderstandings. 

Related Articles:

How Intercultural Competence Drives Success in Global Virtual Teams


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See on Scoop.itGlobal Leaders

A study that shows intercultural competence as a factor in effectiveness of global virtual teams, and that building relationships, establishing structure, and having discipline are critical for success.

Anne Egros‘s insight:

To build a global team, first determine what needs to be done and then identify who are the best individuals for achieving the goals based on individual coaching and through intercultural training programs

See on gbr.pepperdine.edu

Increasing Stress, Decreasing Empathy: Need Emotional Intelligence


See on Scoop.itGlobal Leaders

Research shows stress is increasing: health problems & business costs. Empathy is decreasing to damage collaboration: The case for emotional intelligence

Anne Egros‘s insight:

Very true ! That is why coaching is an holistic process to understand yourself. Stress at home impacts performance at work and stress at work damages your health and personal relationships.

See on www.6seconds.org

Finding Happiness as an Expat Wife


See on Scoop.itInternational Career

Are you struggling with life as an expat wife? InterNations shows you how to avert an identity crisis and how to find happiness as an expat wife.

Anne Egros‘s insight:

Maybe you took a break to raise your children or manage an expatriation or both, but now you feel it is time to find a job.

It is always better to know in advance what are the job market and regulation to get the right visa but if you got noticed of your new destination at the last-minute it is not always possible.

You can take this transition time as an opportunity to explore in-depth your skills and talent and find out what you really want to do.

Not all expat wives are happy with a “demotion” and want to have same or better career while living abroad and acquire intercultural competencies that international employees and global managers need nowadays.

Using a career and transition coach who lives in your place has numerous advantages especially for building your brand, helping you design resumes, supporting your networking efforts with local professionals and elaborating job search strategy that matches local job market.

See on www.internations.org

 

The 5 Biggest Lies About Expats


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It is amazing how much pressure is put on expats to comply to a certain image of the “ideal expat”.

The perfect expat does not exist and most recommendations I read on specialized blogs on how to become one are just lies !

Expats are ordinary people and accept or choose to live and work abroad for a multiple of reasons that are not good or bad. It is their lives, their choices and sometimes their mistakes when they face challenges they can’t overcome but I think no one should judge them and certainly not other expats.

In 20+ years of expatriation I have met plenty of expatriates of all kinds, some for short assignments of 2 to 3 years, others who got married and followed their spouse in their country and stayed there forever, students, executives, diplomats, adventurers, artists, stay at home moms or dads, career women, trailing spouses, TCKs etc. and they all had their own ways to deal with expatriation. Some fall in love with their new location and had a blast other hated it every single day but the majority had good and bad days just like ordinary people.

It is true that successful expats share some skills regardless of where they live, their age or social status but I don’t believe there is such thing as expat DNA implying that you are born with some innate abilities to live abroad and that you just need to follow the perfect expat model to enjoy your expat experience.

It is like asking the famous question : are leaders born or made ? My answer to this one is always “both”. You may have certain innate qualities such as emotional intelligence, curiosity, or being a good listener but you also need to experiment and make your own mistakes to learn what is the best communication or leadership style to apply when you face various situations.

Here my list of what I think are the biggest lies about expats and misleading advises on what you should or shouldn’t do while living abroad:

Lie #1: Expats are lucky managers sent by multinational companies, they have huge benefits and salary compared to locals. It may be still true in certain countries but we see more and more companies sending managers abroad with minimum relocation packages or applying local job market benefits (localized expats). People are also moving by themselves abroad to find a job without relocation support from a company. Most expatriates who find jobs abroad have usually unique qualifications or intercultural intelligence that make them in high demand in certain industries or countries. Nothing about luck here, you have to compete hard to get those jobs or go where others don’t want to.

Lie #2: Expats, especially accompanying partners, live a glamorous life, complain all the time and should live like “locals”. This one implies that “locals” are all the same and in majority less fortunate than the expats. Well, I am not sure who are the “typical local people” ? Lets take countries such as Russia for example: like most recently emerged economies, they have extremely rich people, many are young multimillionaire entrepreneurs and a relatively small middle class of young people too, concentrated in big cities such as Moscow and St. Petersburg. The rest of the population is living in poor rural or industrial areas. Even if you are a very well paid expat you can’t even dream to have the same lifestyle of the so-called “oligarchs”. You certainly don’t want to drink as much Vodka as the average Russian men and I won’t recommend to try the local custom of bathing in icy rivers with an outside temperature of -25C .

In certain countries don’t play with your health by eating any kind of food or drinking tap water just to do like locals. I remember the story about expats in Africa getting serious diseases such as bilharzia because they did not want that local people carry them on their shoulders to cross rivers infested with bloodsucking worms.

In Dubai (UAE), March this year, a Norwegian woman was raped and jailed after reporting the crime to the local police. The case highlights the increasingly frequent tensions between the United Arab Emirates’ international atmosphere and its legal system according to Al Jazeera.

While I am a strong advocate for learning and complying as much as possible with local customs and social rules, I also encourage new comers to find a “mentor” who is either another expat or someone with extensive international experience because someone who never lived abroad or not culturally close to you don’t understand your challenges as an expat family. Even some long-term expats blame freshly arrived ones for not blending enough with people from their host country. In the later case I suspect poor empathy and maybe some kind of jealousy.

Lie #3: Expats should not seek the company of other expats, to have a successful expatriation. This injunction is directly the consequence of Lie #2. When you live in your own country nobody tells you that you spend too much time with like-minded people who share your interests, hobbies or lifestyle, so why expats should not have friends among other expats ? Maybe some scientists have evidences that link the number of expat friends with expat failure rate ? Should we apply a quota system like no more than 20% expat friends ? Here again I am advocating for the expat “trailing spouses” who usually are perceived as the ones who have all the responsibility regarding expat failures which is often the case. Unhappy partners are cause #1 for premature returns.

Not all expat families have the luxury to get an intensive language course and cultural awareness training before moving to their new country. So, to adapt quickly to a new location without too much unnecessary struggles, I recommend that you contact first thing first other expats living in your new home via local support groups or using social media. In 99.9% of the cases they will be more than happy to share their tips about neighborhoods, schools, doctors, public transportation etc. even before you say yes to moving abroad. You may even speed-up the process of meeting local friends among those who speak your language or love your original culture in such support groups.

Expats who volunteer to help new comers usually love the country and want to share mostly the good things about it but also inform them about risks such as the ones mentioned above.

Like everywhere you will meet negative people who are never happy and complain all the time but remember that you are free to be friend with whom ever you like.

Lie #4: Expats who don’t learn a foreign language are lazy and unable to adapt While learning the local language helps, it is not necessary a success factor. I know by experience that good communicators don’t use one channel and being fluent in a language does not imply you understand the culture. In addition with globalization more and more people speak English, at least in big cities.

If you can only learn few words and gestures of the local language because you don’t have enough time, don’t feel ashamed, be incredibly selfish for your sanity : find first emotionally and physically rewarding activities. For my personal balance beside working and taking care of my family, I spend my free time doing Zumba and socializing with my friends (foreign or local) rather than learning Russian intensively. As a result I may speak a broken Russian to survive but certainly be a much happier, relaxed spouse and mom.

Lie #5 Homesickness is not for serious expats This is probably the biggest lie. Almost everyone gets homesickness at some point or another. Some because they have left their aging parents behind or got frustrated not to find some specific products or fed up with the local weather or being treated as a stranger. Again, this is perfectly normal to feel homesickness even when you just move from New York to Atlanta. It is usually a cyclic pattern: you have nostalgia, want to go back home, you spend few weeks there and then you start missing your “new home” because the experience is not what you expected in your dreams. During those mini-repatriations you get a taste of what is called “reverse culture shock“: nobody is interested by your experience abroad, old friends, colleagues and family have strong opinions about the country you left and no matter what you say, they won’t change their views. At the end, you have reverse homesickness: You miss your foreign home and friends…a vicious circle, serial expats know well.

I maybe took extreme cases to illustrate my point against the “perfect expat”, but I hope I can help some expats who feel guilty and ashamed of not enjoying their “glamorous life”,  to talk about it without being afraid of being labelled as “ugly expat” and seek eventually professional support.

 

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