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How to Adapt to Cultural Differences when Working Abroad

2016-10-03 11:00:00 +0100 by Kellie-Anne Molloy


When it comes to working abroad - the majority of us know what to expect in general, for example meeting different people, experiencing a new culture, new food, weather etc. 

What we may forget to look into is that we may be working in a multicultural company when we go abroad. Naturally this would take some getting used to, when working abroad you need to remember that there may be culture clashes, language barriers (unless you all have 1 language in common) and different ways of handling work and various other situations. 

The point we are trying to make with this week's blog is that issues like this are totally normal - they are nothing to worry about (so don't quit on your dream of working abroad) even your favourite recruiters have mini hiccups with each-other. 

What we'd like to do is help you prepare for this so that it can aid you in making the best of your working abroad experience, as well as helping you settle into your new life with more ease. 

Below is our ''How To'' on dealing with cultural differences within the workplace- keep reading & don't forget to take notes. 

  • Do Your Research 

Just like you would do research on the company before an interview - do your research on the country before going to work abroad. This is will give you a general idea of what to expect and to look out for once you get over there.

When it comes to checking who you could be working with - do a sneaky LinkedIn search on the company - you will see who is working there and get to know where they are from. In doing so you could get the chance to research where they are from and if there are any cultural differences worth looking out for. Carrying out your own research will allow you to develop great working relationships, which we all know, help make the working day more fun. 

  • Be Open-Minded

There is a lot to be said for positive thinking. If you go into your new language job abroad thinking the worst and expecting a battle, chances are you'll find one fairly easily. Be patient. stay calm and let yourself acclimatize to the various multilingual speakers surrounding you, their cultural differences, their attitudes towards work etc. - You will notice subtle differences, for instance - German speakers are big into time keeping, so you wouldn't want tasks to be late. Dutch Speakers can be blunt, but they like things to be straight to the point. Going in open minded can allow you to see these cultural differences & avoid conflict.

  • Be Aware 

Remember as you are working abroad that your specific cultural norms can be near alien to your fellow employees just as much as theirs is to you. For the first few days-weeks it would be a good idea to be more aware of yourself because what is considered normal to you, could be odd or confusing to your fellow co-workers. - Having some early get togethers could help you get to know these issues straight away as you can begin to get comfortable with each other and even have fun with learning about each other's different cultural differences. 

  • Never React - Always Wait 

Once you have started your new language job abroad - the important thing to do, once you have followed the 3 previous steps is remember that some nationalities will clash. Depending on their level of English, their personality and cultural differences - it can be easy to take someone up the wrong way. 
Some nationalities may come across rude or quite blunt, where as some may take some time to get to the point they are trying to make - it all depends on their culture. 

We all just need to remember - that if something like this happens - take a breath and try to see where they are coming from or perhaps ask them if they can explain further. 
Of course if after some time and you are still unsure or upset - you can always talk with them to resolve any issues. - Follow our Conflict Blog to get you a helping hand 

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