Culture Shock Survival Guide: Adapting To A Foreign Workplace Abroad

Culture Shock Survival Guide: Adapting To A Foreign Workplace Abroad


Date Posted: December 19, 2019

Moving abroad for work definitely has its challenges. Being able to adapt will definitely  give you an edge. Here are some tips on how you can do just that!  
It’s one thing having to adjust to a new workplace but having to adjust to a new workplace in a different country comes with a whole new bag of challenges. There is a language barrier now and a bunch of societal and cultural norms that have been in place for years. But don’t panic! Culture shock is normal and it happens to everybody. What matters now is how you deal with it.  
Never assume
Do not assume that work cultures are the same in every country. Just as general cultures differ from place to place, so do work cultures. Always ask questions if you are unsure about something. I had an experience at a new job when the person showing me the ropes put it very simply. She said, “In case you’re not sure what to do, just ask. It’s better to ask questions than to keep making mistakes.” From asking about a dress code to simple etiquette, don’t be afraid to ask questions. People will not mind your asking since it shows that you are respectful for keeping their cultural norms in mind.  
Research the Basics
A little research goes a long way. This has all to do with being prepared. In fact, reading this article right now shows that you want to be prepared and that’s good. Additionally, it’s definitely a surefire way to stand out. Be sure that you research the basics like how to do a proper introduction in your destination country. Do you bow? Do you shake hands? If so, who reaches out their hand first? Knowing simple things like those demonstrates that you are not only prepared, but you are prepared to learn new things and incorporate them into your life. That’s not a bad thing to show your boss.
Be Aware
At a time like this, it is helpful to be a little paranoid and hyper-aware of your actions since you are basically rewiring your brain to do or say certain things that you did not grow up doing. It is painfully easy to forget to remove your shoes when entering a certain room if you are not used to it. However, if your destination country is Japan for instance, this must not be looked over. Give yourself some time to adjust. It’s certainly not easy at first but you’ll get the hang of it sooner or later.
Observe
Here’s a quick tip: watch and observe. Observe how your team works first before taking action. This is a great time to note the strengths and weaknesses of your team, so you can figure out how you can best work with them. You do not want to go in all of a sudden and start making decisions because it might upset the order or pace that your team is already used to. Instead, bring up your concerns in the form of a question. This will rephrase the tone of your voice into sounding less commanding and more eager to learn and be part of the team.  
Keep an Open Mind
Be open-minded as you go on your overseas job journey. There are a lot of new things to learn and new places to see, and because you have the good fortune of working in that country, you get to experience this first-hand! Understand that the world is a vast place with different cultures and societies and because of that, cultural norms are just as numerous and vast.  
It can get tiring having to re-adjust yourself to a new country and a new workplace. But just keep your head up and see every challenge as a learning opportunity. Check out WorkAbroad.ph for more tips on how to go about being the ultimate overseas worker.

 


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