We, Filipinos are naturally friendly but mahiyain when it comes to talking with foreigners. We are good English speakers yet we shy away from conversational stories. However, when you go out of the country, pakikisama is a predominantly Filipino trait – and an important life skill - that will go a long way. Fellow kababayans can attest that making friends with foreigners is better because you get to understand other people’s culture.
To be an effective worker in a foreign country, you should practice empathy and people skills. These traits can be developed as long as you employ a global mindset. Keep an open mind, overcome your mahiyain side little by little, and strike a convo with your colleague. And you might find yourself expanding your circle of friends, which will make your life abroad bearable and happier.
So how do you develop a global mindset? Here are the ways.
Gage their level of conversation and level up with them
Filipinos are naturally good English conversation skills. However, it can be off-putting when you are speaking in fluent English and your foreign co-worker seems struggling to find the right words.
In order to connect with your colleagues, have to make them feel that you are coming from a place of understanding. For example, if they speak Singlish, or Singaporean English, drop off your American English accent and try to copy the way they speak. Chances are, they will most likely strike a convo with you and you will certainly get them to open up.
Research on the local language lexicon
Working in a foreign country entails not only adapting to the locals’ way of living, but also on how the way they speak the language. For example, in Philippines if you want to have phone credits in your cell phone, you go to your local sari-sari store and say “pa-load.” When you go to other countries, no one will understand “pa-load” because it is not widely used. The word instantly translates to “top up”.
You will never be on the same page if you communicate with the foreigners the way you use words back home. Break down the language barrier, adapt to the local’s native language, and soon you will find that it is easy to transition between culture of two countries – your homeland and your work place.
Familiarize yourself with local pop culture
The internet is abreast with information on surviving in other country, getting along with foreigners, and understanding their culture and more importantly, their religion. It may take time to adapt, but once you are familiar, it is easy to integrate other people’s way of living in your system.
Try watching their local shows, or listen to their local artists. See if you can find resemblance with our local counterparts. Exchange ideas and insights. Try also watching local comedy shows and familiarize yourself with the kind of humor they like. Add to that the Filipino trait of putting pun in funny, and you might tickle your colleague’s funny bone.
Respect and accept other people’s religion
While you may have a different religion, it is important that you respect their beliefs and practice in public what they are doing. For example, if you are working in the Middle East, which is predominantly Islam, people fast and contemplate in silence during Eid al-Fitr or end of Ramadan. It is best that you uphold their beliefs to harmoniously live with them.
The basic value, respect begets respect is the key to understanding other people’s way of life. In turn, this will make you knowledgeable and enriched as an individual, and you will gain deeper understanding of other people’s way of living.