3) Dealing with cultural shock: Many people who live in a culture which is substantially different to their own experience a psychological disorientation. This psychological disorientation is described as cultural shock. This is the result of differences in cultural norms, rules, understanding and identities. Cultural shock has some certain effects. Expatriots suffering from it feel a sense of disorientation and uprootedness, homesickness, hostility towards and stereotyping host nationals, uncertainty about future, irriitability, excessive sleep, withdrawal and boredom, compulsive eating and drinking. Additionally, expatriots suffering from a cultural shock feel that the behaviors, strategies and attitudes that were necessary for accomplishing targets and goals do not work in the new cultural context and some of these might even be seen as bad manners. Cultural shock goes through different patterns: In the first stage, one thinks that it is charming. In the second stage, one considers it evil and in the third stage one sees it different. Expatriots going through a cultural shock also react differently to it: a) Some assume that something is wrong with host nationals and not with themselves, b) expatriots overvalue their own culture and exaggerate its benefits, c) expatriots describe their own culture in moral terms such as polite, rational, etc. and d) expatriots undervalue their new culture .
Basically cultural shock happenes because we perceive differences that can be due to the following: a) country, b) race, c) gender, d) age, e) occupation, f) religion, g) values and h) norms. Thus, one can define cultural shock as a typical reaction to differences in a foreign context. To get over the cultural shock, one needs a constant self-conscious effort to understand the host culture, habits, norms, way of life and if possible even language. Surely one cannot learn all languages of the world, but getting acquainted with some languages opens a person to understand the differences better. One should be aware of the fact that everyone takes his/her own culture for granted to the extent that it becomes invisible to oneself and deeply ingrained in the emotional level. This leads to reflect one's own culture as moral claims. One needs to be aware of these differences. If not, these will reflect in our non-verbal communication and subconscious behavior to the extent that our counterparts understand and see it immediately that one does not like their culture. This has led to fatal mistakes not only in international business contexts but also in diplomatic circles.
We help our customers to get to know their own cultural norms and become critical of automatic responses to them and at the same time understand the differences in other cultures. An efficient intercultural awareness should enable a trained person to engage in any foreign culture and make them feel as if one belongs to them. Professional diplomats have proven this again and again.
© M.Khorasani Consulting