My first blog on working abroad shared insights on the importance of immersing yourself in the culture that you end up in. But naturally, this is a double edged blade! In this blog I divulge how important it is to share something about the culture that you come from.
Every cloud has a silver lining
Once upon a time, Einstein uttered these wise words: ‘’If you do what you always have done, you’ll get what you always got.’’ If you always look at something from the same perspective, you will never see what it looks like from the other side. This is the same when it comes to cultural differences. This is why it can be very useful to, as an expat, bring your culture and values to the workfloor. Your colleagues might be looking at a case differently for the very first time. Every cloud has a silver lining!
Share the liquorice
After immersing yourself in the culture of your new country, it is nice to share with your colleagues how you get down to business in your own country. For example, set up a nice (powerpoint) presentation, and share (if you’re Dutch) stroopwafels and liquorice (Everybody loves a stroopwafel, right?) Show which uses and especially which delicacy originate from your culture, and enrich your colleagues! Share something about the work ethic from your country: Is there a 9 to 5 mentality, or are you all workaholics? How important is money?Are people driven to make the best of things? There are loads of questions out there. Be open to questions from your colleagues, and invite them to nose around in your neck of the woods. This is how you ensure that less culture clashes will take place in the future, because you have explained the differences. By allowing people to have a look at your country and culture they will be more understanding of where you come from.
You’ll soon find out that even within the borders of a country there are different cultures to be found. People from Dorset are truly different from Londoners, to provide an example. Invite your colleagues to share something on their own culture and values. This can be something regarding their hometown, or even their family of origin! Put culture on the agenda every now and again. This way you ensure that you prevent clashes, and you enrich each other with refreshing points of perspectives.