Being sent or going of your own volition to work abroad is a tempting adventure.
A successful expatriation, reducing the challenging effects of culture shock, needs to be prepared by getting acquainted with the new culture.
Becoming culturally competent in a new culture cannot be done by reading books alone. Such knowledge has to be complemented by experience, by the feelings of having practised the handling of unfamiliar situations.
It is a well-known fact that the mix of the knowledge from studying and the feelings from practice makes training more meaningful and effective. "Not having heard something is not as good as having heard it; having heard it is not as good as having seen it; having seen it is not as good as knowing it; knowing it is not as good as putting it into practice" from Book 8, chapter 11 of the Xunzi.
A list of ‘dos and don’ts’ in a particular culture can be a useful starting point in developing intercultural competence, but the two pillars of knowledge and practice are intimately linked: one without the other will only cause frustration.
I understand and share this approach intimately. My own intercultural experience started with my family: French father, Swedish mother. It continued with Uruguay where I grew up, and Zurich, Switzerland, where I studied, ending in the UK where I arrived several decades ago to learn English and have been totally integrated into the British culture.
To share my experience in training expatriates, I have acquired intercultural knowledge by attending courses, reading, reflecting on my past intercultural experiences, going to meetings and exchanging with like-minded people.
If I only bring knowledge to training, without the practical skills to apply it, I consider I will have failed. Information on its own is only part of the story. Without the due communication skills, it leaves trainees ill-prepared to face the unfamiliar with both confidence and enthusiasm.
“I am looking forward to returning home to my friends and family! “
Similar training support is needed for expatriates' and their family’s re-entry. Methods include knowledge together with practical exercises, games, videos of real live situations, role-playing, case studies which call on the relevant feelings.
An idealised memory of the home country can prove devastating when confronted with reality. So many stories to share. But who is listening?
At work, returnees bring their own experiences and skills learnt abroad, but back in the office they may prompt xenophobic responses.
Support to returnees will vary depending on whether they have been socialised (fitting back in), alienated (gone native) or proactive (synergistic).
The starting point is to identify what has been learnt abroad, both personally and professionally. Debriefing sessions will also entail training relevant members of the local organisation to decrease parochialism.
My intercultural training combines knowledge with participants playing an interactive role with games, video clips of real situations, role playing, case studies, and importantly, de-briefing.
I help leaders and managers who will work or have recently moved abroad to lessen the effects of the culture shock, making them more effective in ‘hitting the ground running’.
Partners and families have a direct impact on the expatriation success and should be included in the training.
Each session or session group is tailored to the learner’s needs, to their existing knowledge and their particular objectives to be met.
Training also covers advice on practical aspects of the relocation, such as housing, health, education, taxation, insurance…
United Kingdom - France - Latin America.
Other countries on demand.
Client’s premises or family home*, or via video conferencing.
Full day:09.00hrs to 17.00hrs with lunch and coffee breaks.
Half-day: 09.00hrs to 12.30hrs or 14.00hrs to 17.30hrs with a coffee break.
*Travel, accommodation and food expenses are chargeable if training is not in London
© 2019 on Intercultural - All rights reserved - Guy H Bondonneau T/A on Intercultural