Breaking Barriers

By Anna Galathea

Working in a multi-cultural environment is such a challenge. It defines a person’s social, emotional, and intellectual quotient. The way you treat others and the way others see you somehow define who you are.

Respect is something earned and won.

It has to start with you. If you respect yourself, others will respect you. Don’t let them put you down. Don’t let them treat you like dirt. No matter how simple or lowly your job is, there’s no such thing as a lowly job. Each one deserves respect. A cleaner deserves respect the way a CEO does.

As an expat, working with people of different nationalities and culture takes a lot of patience and understanding. The barriers are well outlined. In your homeland, you deal mostly with varying personalities, and that already poses a challenge for an employee; but in a foreign land, culture is a divisive element that oftentimes cause clashes and misunderstanding among the staff. One takes offense of another’s actions; one thinks everything is all right because that is his culture. One laughs at the way another eats; one mocks at the way another talks. The way someone nods his head, the way someone walks, while another finds it funny to see the way two persons of the same nationality converse. It is an endless task to harmonize and fit in.

“When knowledge is gained from experience, the intelligence acquired is often of better quality, since it is almost all relevant and applicable to their goals.”

There is the bully, the boisterous, the snob, the arrogant, the meek, the kind, the shy, the friendly, the joker, the poker-faced, the sweet cake, the maternal, and many more. The workplace is like a civilized zoo. Each tries to fit in.

Sometimes, education is not a basis for character. There are those who claim they are educated but acts the most inhumane. Some people just show a lack of intelligence in the way they treat others. A Japanese blogger wrote: “Many intelligent people come from uneducated backgrounds. These are the people who were able to educate themselves through life experience, and/or who have had extremely smart people around them to mentor them. When knowledge is gained from experience, the intelligence acquired is often of better quality, since it is almost all relevant and applicable to their goals. This is intelligence gained the old fashioned way.”  People who brag about their education or background are pathetic if their actions are perceived illiterate. Having a high nose is in fact a liability. Be humble. Character builds or breaks us.

As an expat, harmonize. Always see the good in people and not mark their bad. Break the barriers. Live simply. Be happy. Inner happiness and peace help you get through. This is cheesy but you do have to make the world a better place. Life is short. Enjoy your job. Live at peace with everyone. #teampositive              

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