Monthly Archives: August 2010

A to Z of Successful Expatriation™: L is for LISTENING and LANGUAGE

Ernest Hemingway once said: “I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.”  And unfortunately he was (and he is still) right – most people don’t listen.  They hear but they don’t really listen.  Usually this is what happens when someone is telling us a story: we engage in our own internal listening.  We either remember that something similar has happened to us and we begin constructing an answer in our heads about our own story; or we find ourselves bored and thinking of something else; or we remember about something we need to do and begin to worry about it; or… etc etc etc.  We are never really 100% there – focused on the words and the energy of what’s being spoken.

Listening fully is essential to understanding and establishing connections with people.  And understanding and establishing connections with people are essential to creating a successful and fun experience as an expatriate.  Next time you are engaged in a conversation, try this exercise: put your entire attention at another person and every time you notice your thoughts going elsewhere, bring them back.  What do you hear?  What do you observe?  And what do you hear between the lines?

Listening fully also means listening to what’s not being said in words.  It’s listening to what’s important to that person, to what makes them tick, to what upsets them.  If you make an effort and really listen to someone next time, you’ll be surprised to find out how much you can actually learn about that person.

Knowing the language goes hand in hand with knowing how to listen. Each language brings with it a certain way of interacting – and, again, as you listen, you’ll be learning these ways and, in addition to connecting with a person, you’ll also be connecting with their language.

What are your thoughts on this?

For all the letters in the A to Z of Successful Expatriation™ click here.

And remember to check out our on-line courses on Culture Shock, Expat Know-How and on Cross-Cultural Training at the Global Coach Center Academy!

Copyright © 2010 by Global Coach Center.  If you’d like to reprint this, please do so but make sure you credit us (with a live link)!

A to Z of Successful Expatriation™: K is for KINDNESS

Acts of kindness are something that we probably engage in on a daily basis.  We are used to being kind to our family members, our friends, strangers in need, stray animals, the environment, etc, etc etc.  Being kind towards others gives us a good feeling.  Yet how often do we extend these acts of kindness towards ourselves?

I decided to dedicate the letter K in this A to Z of Successful Expatriation Series to kindness to yourself precisely because very often we don’t know how to be kind to our own, sometimes fragile, selves.  Especially as expats – when we go through more change and learning every time we move than most people do in their lifetimes – we tend to push ourselves really hard.  We often expect to be fast and perfect in learning the culture and the language; in adjusting and bringing normalcy to our families in a completely different environment; in garnering that feeling of belonging; in excelling at work; in finding work; in creating relationships and friendships, in… this list can go on and on.  And when we find ourselves to be less than perfect and less than fast (incidentally our saboteurs never let us think we are good enough), we embark on a journey of self-criticism, self-pity, and declining self-esteem.

When that happens, take a step back and think: Am I being kind to myself?  What would be different now if I decided to swap criticism for kindness?  How would that feel?

Being kind to yourself doesn’t mean giving up on whatever you’ve set your heart to do and be.  It just means giving yourself some space, a supportive shoulder, and a lot of positive energy to continue your journey.

What have been your acts of kindness to yourself recently?

For all the letters in the A to Z of Successful Expatriation™ click here.

And remember to check out our on-line courses on Culture Shock, Expat Know-How and on Cross-Cultural Training at the Global Coach Center Academy!

Copyright © 2010 by Global Coach Center.  If you’d like to reprint this, please do so but make sure you credit us (with a live link)!

A to Z of Successful Expatriation™: J is for JOURNAL

Ever since my daughter learned to write coherent sentences, I’ve always encouraged her to record the various trips we were taking.  We’d sit down at the end of every day – usually during a dinner in a restaurant – and while the food was being prepared, she’d record things that were especially interesting for her.  And even though it’s now becoming more and more difficult to get her to write her “travel journal” (age, I suppose), she loves going back and reading what she’s written years ago.

Journaling about your expat experiences – whether in electronic form or in an old-fashioned way with a pen and a notebook – gives us an opportunity to record the things we see and experience shortly after we’ve seen and experienced them.  Nothing gets lost in our memory, nothing gets forgotten and in the end we have a great collection of stories that can provide hours of memories years later.  Some of these stories may even end up becoming a book some of us have always dreamed of writing in retirement.

Keeping a journal in electronic form – a blog as we call them now – also allows us to share with family and friends at home.  Add a few photographs and you’ve just provided an evening of entertainment for your loved ones.

Journals help us remember and they help us share.  Do you keep a journal?  How?

For all the letters in the A to Z of Successful Expatriation™ click here.

And remember to check out our on-line courses on Culture Shock, Expat Know-How and on Cross-Cultural Training at the Global Coach Center Academy!

Copyright © 2010 by Global Coach Center.
If you’d like to reprint this, please do so but make sure you credit us (with a live link)!