I gave a presentation recently on some tips for traveling and working globally. For most of the readers of this blog these will just be a reminder, for others there may be some new ideas, but I thought they would be worth sharing.
- Be open and flexible – be willing to do things you might not at home, for example trying unusual foods or changing your schedule to better suit the local environment. Once you actually spend time in another location and use your powers of observation or spend more time getting to know your local partners or hosts, you will have a better idea of how you can be most respectful of the local culture. And this leads to the next tip…
- Small gestures make a big difference – you can show your respect for the local culture by making small gestures that demonstrate this respect. For example, although much of the world is now willing to speak English, you can show that you appreciate the local language by learning a few local words or phrases (thank you is a good one to start with). Getting to know some local holidays or customs that you can share with your local partners or hosts are all ways of demonstrating respect. You will certainly think of other gestures to make, the key is to make this a practice.
- Find a cultural interpreter – although all of us that work globally know how important language translation can be, finding a cultural interpreter can also make a big difference to a successful partnership. You may not be able to read the nonverbal communication or other messages a local host or partner is sending you and a cultural interpreter (familiar with both your cultural and the local one) can clue you in to ‘what is really going on’.
What would be some of your top ‘tips”?