Successful expats are those who are able to achieve in the face of adversity. They are able to roll with the punches, and deal with change; in fact you could say that they tend to have a level of resilience that is more robust than normal.
So what does resilience look like through the eyes of a successful expat; and equally important, what can we learn from these people about resilience?
There are five things that they tend to possess, or do quite well, that equally applies to the success of any role. They:
1. Have self-confidence
2. Are able to tolerate frustration and discomfort
3. Know how to moderate their lifestyle and avoid burnout
4. Take emotional and behavioural responsibility
5. Are flexible
The combination of these attributes enables access to key resilient behaviours, such as:
Conflict management. The ability to resolve conflict becomes more effective when the blocks to assertiveness are confronted.
Time management and Productivity. Is optimised by dealing with avoidance and low frustration-tolerance.
Communication skills. These are improved, irrespective of the language barrier, or the working environment , when you are able to deal with the tension and low frustration-tolerance that arises from normal beliefs like: ‘I must look good/perform well in front of my new colleagues’; or ‘I should be able to communicate better’.
Cultural assimilation. The ability to remain self-confident in the face of language and everyday cultural barriers experienced in the office, or at home… and in an increasingly globalised workforce this is becoming an increasingly important attribute.
Probably the most important characteristic, which in many respects is a combination of the above attributes, is the ability for the successful expat to feel comfortable in their own skin despite the ambiguity and heady mix of work and lifestyle changes that surrounds them. The ability to understand their limits, seek to know what they don’t know and be prepared to share and work on this is what truly sets the successful expat aside from the expat who merely survives.
If you are an aspiring expat take note...these points will get you off on the right foot. If you aren’t an expat and simply want to enhance your levels of resilience then you can’t go past these points.