Looking for New? It’s in another country

21 06 2007

Comments from yesterday’s post New is a requirement got me thinking about how living and working in another country moves your “comfort zone” and exposes you to lots of New.

There is a tendency to forget that this New soon becomes part of our routine and becomes integrated in our system of evaluation and processing of experiences.

Working internationally has been my biggest source of New for the past 30+ years in my personal and professional life.

It invigorates and challenges me.

It’s not always fun, or easy.

Living and working internationally has taught me:

  • Patience. It always takes more time than you think.
  • To listen before acting, reacting or responding.
  • To be humble. I don’t know it all, there is always something else to learn in order to understand.
  • To deal with frustration. When it’s not happening just the way you want it to, it means there is a different way to do it, find the alternative or live with the current situation, stop the whining and complaining.
  • New ways to solve problems. Not everyone culture approaches or attacks a problem the same way.
  • To analyze several solutions before making a final decision. What’s right at home may be 100% wrong in your current situation.
  • Most people are honest, fair and open, however being a strange face in a strange land brings out a certain criminal element that may find you irresistible (especially in the transportation sector).
  • People express themselves and their true feelings very differently, especially when it comes to solving conflicts.
  • Food ingredients and table manners are wildly different and can create physical and/or psychological reactions that were previously unknown to me.
  • There is no “right” way to live, solve problems or compete.
  • Politics and religion can be discussed, but should never be debated. Never.
  • Travel is not glamorous, restful, or easy. Takes a great deal of preparation, adaptation and improvisation to make it work.
  • Hospitality, manners and paying attention to detail are incredible important in making and maintaining relationships (host and guest).
  • Guides are important. These may be other business people, local residents, books or information about the people, place and culture. Learn, learn, learn and ask lots of questions, it pays off.
  • To be fair. Make deals and agreements as if you are going to be working with that company or individual for the next 20 years.
  • To see the “Big Picture”. Relationships, government policies, customs and cultural differences all interact and I begin to see larger issues being affected by my smaller decisions and preoccupations.

What about you?

What New did you confront, discover, embrace, enjoy or hate while living or working in another country?

Related Links

New is a requirement

International business tips

Cultural Misunderstanding- it can happen to you

Create great international business relationships

Great International Business Trip Results

16 Essential questions – the international business traveller’s quiz



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4 responses

21 06 2007
Chiva Congelado

Good list. However, I think you forgot a basic one:

Language. Not only the fact of learning a new language from scratch, but also using different levels of it (or even your native language) depending on what you want to convey.

I should have an idea, I’ve tried eight.

22 06 2007
Lee Iwan

Language. You’re correct, a gigantic omission from the list.

The biggest changes and frustrations come from the inability to communicate.

The best New experiences and New understandings come from confronting and learning a new language.

Language is a really important New when you’re in another country.

Thanks for adding it to the list, and congratulations, 8 languages have exposed you to a mountain of New.

23 06 2007
Chiva Congelado

It’s just what I do… ;-) Doesn’t mean that I’m any good.

I think the most important thing is getting rid of your fears. Fear of rejection, of misunderstanding… Once you do that, it will be easier for you to practise, and through use you learn.

The main difficulty for finding New is that it eventually becomes Old, so you have to be always on the move.

4 12 2007
The challenge of international business « Lee Iwan Accumulated Experience

[…] Looking for New?  It’s in another country […]

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