Monthly Archives: May 2009

Moving again? Need packing “know-how”?

Summer is usually a natural transfer season for many expatriates out there in the world.  And as we all know, transferring from one post to another or transferring back home means … moving and packing.  Moving and packing your family, your household, your pets, your… well, life.

Most people I know don’t find the process of moving very inspirational.  Even if your company pays for movers and even if they will be doing the actual packing, you still have a job to do.  A job that consists of organizing your stuff for the movers.  And if you are anything like the majority of humans out there, you probably accumulate a lot of “stuff” during any given post.

I always hear that one of the hardest things about organizing a move (apart from saying good-byes… which we’ll talk about in the near future) is deciding what to take and what not to take with you.  Those decisions not only take time, but also force us to say yes to some memories and no to the others.

So how do you decide which memento of the past still deserves a place in your life and which doesn’t?  How do you decide which one of your possessions to leave behind?  And what is the ultimate test that helps you determine what will stay?

I have a system.  It may or may not work for you, but I found that it works wonders for me.  When I begin the moving process I ask myself the following questions about those things that I consider leaving behind:

•    What is the energy behind this thing?  What feeling do I get from it?
•    What does it represent to me now?
•    How important is it to me now?
•    How important is it to my future path?

Many objects that we hold on to may represent who we were long ago and not who we are now. Some may come from times that have been difficult and resonate with memories of sadness; others may have been symbolic to us in the past, but no longer carry the same meaning. Why hold on to them then? Why drain yourself and your house of energy with clutter that is not useful for who you are becoming?

When people, who have not experienced expatriate lifestyles, say to me how difficult it must be to move every few years, I usually respond that it’s a blessing and an opportunity.  It allows me to part with the old and invite the new into my life.  And that’s what I find very inspirational.

What about you?  How do you move?

Copyright © 2009 by Global Coach Center.
If you’d like to reprint this, please do so but make sure you credit us!

Flight $500, Hotel $150 … Expatriate Reunions — Priceless

One of the hardest things that we face when we live expatriate lifestyles is saying good-byes to friends. It happens more often than when we live in our own countries simply because either our postings end or postings of our friends end. And so most of us spend a good part of our overseas lives saying good-byes and making new friends, so that we can say good-byes all over again.

I bet this good-bye business was much harder in past years – before the advent of e-mails, Facebook, Twitter, and all the other social networking sites. It’s become much easier now to continue to stay in touch and see what your friends are up to in their new places of residence. However, no matter how convenient these things are and no matter how easy they make it for us not to forget about each other, nothing can ever replace the real face-to-face interaction.  Reunions are important.

I learned this last weekend when we finally had a 3-day get together with the circle of friends from my first year posting in St Petersburg, Russia. We planned it for almost 2 years, going back and forth on dates and places and logistics. Finally, three years after our roads went in different directions, we made it. The eight of us got together.

It is impossible to paint in words how much fun we had! Like they say in the MasterCard commercials: Flight 500 Euro, Hotel 15O Euro, Dinners out 100 Euro. The amount of laughs, smiles, memories, and overall positive energy – PRICELESS!

So I really encourage you to organize and plan reunions. It is not really that difficult – all that it requires is the commitment and the sense of making your reunion a priority on your list of things to do and spend money/time on. Seeing friends from years and countries in your memory is a gift too precious to waste.

We are already making plans for our next reunion.

Copyright © 2009 by Global Coach Center.
If you’d like to reprint this, please do so but make sure you credit us!

Cross-Cultural Intelligence 101: Tip 6 – Look for values

For those of us who travel and live in different countries on a regular basis, learning about our destinations is essential. What can I expect when I move? What will be different? What will I have to adjust to? What are the people like? How does their culture differ from mine? These questions can go on and on.

Some of us try to answer them by researching in libraries and on the internet; others go through cross-cultural training; and yet others tap into whatever expertise the online expatriate community can offer. All these sources are wonderful and they provide a wealth of information, however, they often form no more than just a base of the information required for us to become really knowledgeable about the culture, and particularly about the people we interact with.

The concept of cross-cultural intelligence goes beyond the laundry list of do’s and don’ts. And so Cross-Cultural Intelligence 101 is the collection of tips and tools that help decipher – wherever you are – what is important to people you interact with, what makes them who they are, and what you can do to strike friendships, make business alliances, and establish partnerships. Cross-Cultural Intelligence 101 takes a more individual approach to learning the culture. After all, we are not made out of the same mould even if we were born and grew up in the same country. In fact, all of us represent a multiplicity of cultures – a mix of ethnic, religious, corporate, socio-political, gender and many other layers of cultures.

In previous posts we covered the first five (5) tips of the Cross-Cultural Intelligence 101. Those five tips are very important to be able to take advantage of this sixth tip. So if you didn’t have the chance to read about them, I’d encourage you to do so now – before you read about this last one. Here are the links to the first five tips:

Tip 1: Really Listen

Tip 2: Pay Attention

Tip 3: Leave your Assumptions at Home

Tip 4: Judgments are not Allowed

Tip 5: Be Curious.

And now on to the last tip, Tip 6: Look for values.

Values are what we honor and cherish in our lives. A value is an individual concept and, even though it’s often affected by the many cultures and traditions we belong to, our own personal values are different from those of our neighbors, friends, or our co-workers. Our values drive our energies and direct our actions.

Therefore, learning to read and identify the values of others is an important tool to connecting with what drives them – and with who they are. But how do you read another person’s values? As you listen, pay attention, use curiosity with patience, and leave your assumptions and judgments out, you will be able to “hear” the “energy” behind somebody’s words. If your new acquaintance, for instance, is talking about her recent trip into the rain forest and you see the eyes sparkle, chances are that adventure is one of her values. If your friend is complaining about a rude treatment he received in a store, it might be his value of respect that got stepped on. If your co-worker shines when she gets praised for the good job that she does, one of her values might be recognition or acknowledgement. When you start living within another culture, knowing what’s important to your neighbors and helping them honor those things will make you new friends and prevent conflicts.

The Cultural Intelligence process is based on a premise that to succeed in the foreign-to-us culture we need to learn, appreciate, and honor cultural differences. The tips we discussed break the process into five easy-to-adopt steps and help make it part of your every day routine.

Copyright © 2009 by Global Coach Center.

If you’d like to reprint this, please do so but make sure you credit us!

Cross-Cultural Intelligence 101: Tip 5 – Be curious

In the previous postings we covered Tip 1: Really Listen, Tip 2: Pay Attention, Tip 3: Leave your Assumptions at Home, and Tip 4: Judgments are not Allowed. Today we are going to discuss Cross-Cultural Intelligence Tip 5: Be Curious.

Learning about another culture requires a special brand of curiosity. Yet unfortunately in our era of information overload and time deficit, we have forgotten how to be curious. We rarely go beyond the headlines and bite-size pieces of information — even within our own culture. Time has become so precious a commodity that spending it to learn about someone or something has become a luxury or has been delegated a “back-burner position”.

Yet people of all cultures love and appreciate being asked. Our authentic curiosity shows them that we are interested and that we care about their country, their traditions, and their culture. Our curiosity builds bridges, creates mutual learning, and develops life-long friendships. When people realize that we care about, respect, and value their culture, they automatically open to us. Trust, cooperation, and mutual benefit are not far behind that.

So, what is that special brand of curiosity? How is it different from just curiosity? For me this special brand of curiosity means curiosity with patience. It’s about being curious with all the elements of being a toddler, who wants to explore the ins and outs of the world, but with an added element of being truly patient. Toddlers often get frustrated when they don’t “get” something quickly. We don’t have that luxury because when we get frustrated, we stop being curious and we no longer learn. We judge.

Different cultures are very complex and it takes time to really learn about them. And that’s why this special brand of curiosity – curiosity with patience – is so important.

Copyright © 2009 by Global Coach Center. If you’d like to reprint this, please do so but make sure you credit us!