Contract Work Abroad: 5 Cultural Awareness Tips
Posted by March 27, 2014in Travelon
Your Non-Verbal Actions Matter
Non-verbal communication is an expected and familiar part of everyday human interaction. However, not all non-verbal gestures are universal. Much like spoken language, different body motions carry varied meanings culture to culture. A “thumbs-up” in the Western world means something much different than it does in the Middle East. Be sure to read up on what is appropriate and what isn’t!
What’s Acceptable for Lunch
It is important to take culture into account when deciding a dietary plan if you decide to start contract work abroad. Though many cultures have adapted to Western dietary influences, many more still consider certain foods to be taboo, even in the workplace. For instance, if you plan to start contract work abroad in India, try to avoid processed beef products. Instead, expand your taste horizons by sampling different curried vegetable dishes.
Know Who to Talk to – When and Where
A casual conversation between employees may carry much greater cultural weight outside of the Western world. If you plan to start contract work abroad, consider how your workplace interactions may be perceived by your native colleagues. As an example, it is taboo in most Middle Eastern countries for men to strike up conversation with women who are not their wives, whether in or out of the workplace. Be conscious of your actions to avoid workplace tension.
What Locals Do For Fun
Engaging in fun activities with your native colleagues not only builds trust but helps smooth the transition process when you start contract work abroad. Never turn down an opportunity to get a “behind the scenes” look at what the locals do for entertainment if your schedule permits. Hands-on learning will both endear you to your new colleagues and provide something to talk about with people you meet abroad.
Observe Cultural Workplace Etiquette
If it is culturally normal to take a coffee break in the morning before clocking in to work, take it as an opportunity to spend time with your colleagues in a way they feel comfortable. Many cultures observe a “siesta” period during the middle of the day. Instead of turning down or denying this time to rest, adapt and use the allotted break time do some exploring locally. Don’t miss any chance to familiarize yourself with the surroundings while observing cultural norms when you start contract work abroad!
Though these are our favorites, there are many ways to increase your cultural awareness. If you plan to start contract work abroad, being prepared to adapt to your new work environment and culture will go a long way in improving your overall comfort and work effectiveness.