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Building Cultural Intelligence with Trisha Carter

Entries in Expatriates (18)


Expats and goal achievement – or, why you might have given up on your New Year’s resolutions.

Recently I was re-reading one of my favourite books about goal achievement (by Heidi Grant Halvorsen) and was struck by the thought that expats - especially new expats - have things stacked against them in achieving their goals.  

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Holidays -who needs them?

Like many of you I’m looking at my schedule and planning what needs to be completed between now and the holiday season.  The countdown is on.  Each year it seems that the race to festivities and celebrations begins sooner.  Here in Australia Christmas decorations are already in most department stores and many of the large shopping malls. 

It’s easy to become cynical and negative as the festivities combine with end-of-year pressures creating a pressure cooker effect.  Work tasks combine with work related celebrations and events and leave little time to consider family needs or to reflect on the meaning behind celebrations. 

For expats there are the added challenges of adapting to a culture that may not acknowledge your celebration, or where the climate is opposite to your usual festive triggers, or where your favourite food or decorations may be absent.   

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Expats - don't leave before the end

I was at a rock concert on Saturday. 

That’s not a sentence I write very often!

In reality it was a picnic alongside a rock concert.  

A Day on the Green -four bands playing in a vineyard.  The main act was legendary Australian band Hunters and Collectors.  It was a great concert with the crowd dancing and singing along for many of our old favourites. 

Like all bands they left the stage with the crowd wanting more. So we clapped and shouted “more, more, more”, knowing they would come back, waiting for classics yet to be played.  Some people around us began to pack up, and many, including the people beside us, left the ground. 

“How can they leave?” I wondered, “They haven’t played ‘Throw Your Arms Around Me’ yet.” The band returned to screams and thundering applause and played another bracket that included the song I’d been waiting for.   But the people beside us had missed it.  They’d already gone.

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When the honeymoon is over too quickly

Last week we had our monthly cicollective webinar and looked at the early days in an overseas asignment. Often that's termed the honeymoon period with high levels of positivity and strong learning opportunities.  (If you are a member of cicollective you can view the saved webinar here) Usually at this point in an international assignment expats who have arrived in their new locations are increasing their cultural intellligence at a significant rate. Usually experiences at work and school are positive as the welcomes and support are high.

Sometimes, however, that may not be true.  For whatever reason the early days may not be a honeymoon where you eagerly hit the ground running.  Instead they may be challenging times.  

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Positive Psychology has good news for expats

I recently attended a workshop with Dr Barbara Fredrickson. Her work in the area of positive emotions and her broaden and build theory have been cornerstones of positive psychology.

In case you haven't heard of her research; over the past twenty years it has revealed the powerful effects of positive emotions. Those emotions such as gratitude, hope, serenity, awe, humour, love and happiness have been found to have a number of positive effects.

They increase resilience, strengthen social bonds, enhance problem solving, undo the effects of stress, and reduce own-race bias. All things critical for expats!

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