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Personality Traits Critical to Expat Success



laughing-peopleThe majority of expats face difficulties in their new surroundings. A recent poll shows that the top three personality traits that lead to successful expat assignments are: flexibility, sense of humor, and resiliency. While some of these characteristics may seem obvious, putting them into practice can be challenging.

Flexibility is needed when dealing with cultures completely different from your home culture. Expats need flexibility when dealing with language, switching from a direct to indirect communication style (or vice versa), scheduling events and dinners, and even simple things like purchasing groceries. It can be hard to let go of certain habits, but this will be necessary to adjust to life in a new country.

Sense of humor is a trickier trait for expats to master. It comes naturally for some, and the ability to laugh at a situation or know when not to laugh can go a long way in developing relationships. However, keep in mind that humor doesn’t translate well across cultures. What is funny in England may not be funny at all in America. Having a sense of humor is often associated with an aptitude to see others’ perspectives. Having a sense of humor is actually a much more intellectual aspect than one might think! For example, if you knew that in Indonesia saving face is important, then you would reframe from laughing at a joke at someone else’s expense. Expats need to have an understanding of a culture’s values in order to understand their humor.  This understanding can come from observations over time or through cross-cultural training. While it is important not to laugh at aspects of other cultures, expats should take things lightly and not be easily offended, as most funny or awkward situations can be attributed to cultural misunderstandings.  

Resiliency is one of the most critical traits for expats to possess. It is entirely important to be resilient and take cultural adjustment challenges in stride. Resiliency is also critical for trying to build relationships and foster connections. Relationships do not happen overnight; they take time. The feeling of defeat can be common as an expat, but it is important to keep trying. Some helpful tips when trying to adapt to a culture can include: going to festivals, historic sites, or having a friend show you around. Viewing your new area in a historic context and comparing it with your home culture can help you see how and where people have come from and how a country’s values came about. Understanding these cultural benefits will help with communication and fitting in. It is also essential to hold on to the culture from which you came. Simple activities can go a long way in making adjustment easier, including cooking your favorite meals at home, watching sports games from your home country, and maintaining old friendships by sending photos and videos.

Other top traits included adaptively, open-mindedness, optimism, curiosity, and patience. For a complete list and rankings visit: http://expatchild.com/expat-personality-characteristics/?utm_content=bufferf30ce&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer