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8 Reasons Why Culture Shock Can Make You A Stronger Person

8 Reasons Why Culture Shock Can Make You A Stronger Person

Culture shock is the disorientated and uneasy feeling people may experience when visiting a new country or finding themselves in new surroundings.

Usually, culture shock is seen as a bit of a negative thing. Being in a place that you’re not familiar with is sure to bring a bit of a fear amongst even the bravest of people from time to time, and it can also lead to sadness or depression from being away from your usual surroundings and people you know.

However, there are also some great reasons why going through a bit of culture shock from time to time can be good for you. Here are 8 of the greatest reasons why culture shock can help to make you a much stronger person.

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    1. You will become more of an individual

    They say that people find themselves when abroad, and it’s certainly no myth. By being able to experience a different way of living, your eyes will be open to what else is out there. This will help you find your individual self, as you will become more aware of the many possibilities that exist for you and learn more about yourself.

    2. You will become more confident

    Whilst scary, it is essential that you step outside of your comfort zone in life, and what better way of doing so than going on the trip of a lifetime? More and more people are heading out abroad on their own and are realising that the experience can not only be entirely rewarding, but also help to boost confidence levels.

    You will learn to trust your gut and rely on yourself a lot more than you may normally have had to.

    3. You will meet lots of new people

    It’s fair to say that you won’t be the only one experiencing culture shock.

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    By getting out there and talking to the locals, you’ll meet lots of new friends. If you get the chance, try to stay at hostels, as you’ll meet new people from all walks of life.

    Meeting new people from different backgrounds will give you a new perspective on life and the world.

    4. You will realise your own set of values and biases

    By visiting different places, you’ll learn a lot about yourself. You will meet people who have a completely different set of views and beliefs from you, and that’s fine—you’ll be able to learn from them.

    This will also help you to clearly define what it is that you are firmly passionate about. It will also help you get a fine-tuned understanding of what your values and biases are.

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    5. You will form new values and beliefs

    The last point goes hand in hand with this one. By travelling, you’ll meet a diverse range of people and personalities and realise that stereotypes can give you a pretty bad understanding of people.

    Adapting to other ways of living will help you incorporate this new understanding into your ordinary life back home.

    “Looking at beauty in the world, is the first step of purifying the mind.” — Amit Ray

    6. You will gain many new skills and talents

    Wherever you travel, you’ll have the opportunity to pick up some of the local language, even if it’s just “hello.” Try and communicate with the locals as much as you can and try to get a taste of the local culture. There will be so many opportunities to learn whilst abroad. For example, when in Thailand, why not try a Thai cooking class? When you get home, everyone will be desperate to try your green curry.

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    7. You will have the best stories to share

    If you experience another country and culture and feel too nervous to try new things, you won’t get the full experience.

    Be sure to take as many opportunities as you can and have a good time. Not many people will be able to do what you’re doing, so do it properly and share the stories with all your friends and family when you get back home.

    8. You will realise that despite any differences we have, we are all pretty similar to each other

    You will soon realise that no matter where you go, we, as humans, all share the same aspirations in life. We want to love and be loved, have fun and live life to the fullest, achieve success, and be there for our friends and family. The sooner you realise this, the sooner you’ll realise that travelling abroad is not so daunting after all, and that, really, you’re just visiting your second home.

    Anyone still in doubt should check out the Why Culture Shock Is Good For You infographic from Work the World for more advice and suggestions.

    The world is a beautiful place, so be sure to go out and see it for yourself!

    Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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    Last Updated on January 15, 2019

    What Are Interpersonal Skills? Master Them for Better Relationships

    What Are Interpersonal Skills? Master Them for Better Relationships

    When I wrote my book Extraordinary PR, Ordinary Budget: A Strategy Guide, I was surprised at the various layers of review and editing necessary to get the book to publication. Before I ever submitted the manuscript, I enlisted a former colleague to read and copy edit my work. Then, I submitted my work to an editor at the publisher’s house, and once she approved it, she sent it to her colleagues and then her company’s editorial board.

    Upon editorial board approval of my book, my editor sent my work to reviewers in my field, then a developmental editor, then a designer and layout team and, finally, another copy editor. There were a host of personalities with whom I needed to interact along the way.

    It turns out that getting a publishing contract was just the beginning – a lot happens between developing a concept, writing the book, finding an agent and publisher, and getting the book on bookshelves or on Audible or Kindle. Through every milestone of the publishing process, my ability to interact with others was crucial. This underscored for me that no matter what or how much a person accomplishes, you never do it alone – everyone needs assistance from others.

    While I conceived of the book and wrote the manuscript, there is no way my book could have hit booksellers’ shelves without the dozens of people who were involved in the publishing process. Further, interpersonal skills can propel or stonewall success.

    Even as someone who has written hundreds of essays, press releases, pitch notes and other correspondence, writing itself is not a solitary endeavor. Sure, I may write in solitude, but the moment I am finished writing, there are always clients, colleagues, partners, peers and others who review my content.

    What is more, even as a published author and contributor for this platform, I try to never submit final copy (content) that has not been copy edited. I send everything to my copy editor, whom I pay out of my own pocket, for her review, edits and approval. Once she has reviewed my work, caught unbeknownst-to-me errors, I am much more confident putting my work out in the world.

    How Interpersonal Skills Affect Relationships

    It is clearer to me now more than ever before that interpersonal skills are needed in every profession and every trade.

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    People don’t elect leaders because the leaders are smart. Individuals are motivated to vote when they have a hero and when they feel they have something to lose. If they seriously dislike the other candidate, they are much more likely vote according to a 2000 Ohio State University study:

    “A disliked candidate is seen as a threat, and that will be motivation to go to the polls. But a threat alone isn’t enough – people need to have a hero to vote for, too, in order to inspire them to turn out on Election Day.”

    In a work setting, interpersonal skills impact every facet of your development and success. Trainers must collaborate with a design team or the company hiring them to facilitate the training. During the training itself, the facilitators must connect with the audience and establish a rapport that supports vulnerability and openness. If the trainers interact poorly with the trainees, they are unlikely to be invited back. If they are invited back, they may be unlikely to inspire cooperation or growth in their trainees.

    Solopreneurs interactions with clients and subcontractors, and those interactions will, in part, support or adversely impact their business. If you enjoy a career as an acclaimed surgeon or respected lawyer, your interactions with patients, clients, health insurance agencies and a team of other practitioners – many of whom are shielded from public view – will improve or decimate your practice.

    As a hiring manager, one of the things I consider when interviewing candidates is their interpersonal skills. I assess the interpersonal skills they display in their content and face-to-face presentation. I ask probing questions to learn how they interact with others, manage conflict and contribute to a team atmosphere.

    When candidates say things like, “I prefer to work alone” or “I can hit the ground running without assistance,” I bristle. When candidates appear to know everything and everyone, I wonder if they will be receptive to learning or open to feedback. Could these statements be indications that these individuals lack interpersonal skills?

    It stands to reason, then, that interpersonal skills are among the most valuable and the bedrock of all talents and skills.

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    What are Interpersonal Skills?

    Interpersonal skills range from emotional intelligence, empathy, oral and written communication to leadership to collaboration and teamwork.

    In sum, interpersonal skills are skills that enable you to interact well with others. They include teachability and receptiveness to feedback, active or mindful listening, self-confidence and conflict resolution.

    From a communications standpoint, interpersonal skills are about understanding how colleagues prefer to communicate and then using the appropriate mediums to meet respective needs. It is about understanding how to communicate in a way to get the most out of different people.

    For instance, in my career as a public relations practitioner, part of what I am constantly evaluating is which colleagues, clients and members of the media prefer email, text or phone calls. I am assessing how much frill to use with each person depending on what has worked in the past and depending on what I know about the person with whom I am interacting.

    Making these decisions and being disciplined enough to follow each person’s known preferences helps me better connect with the various individuals in my orbit. Is this tiring at times? Yes. Is it necessary? Absolutely.

    How to Improve Interpersonal Skills

    There are tons of resources to teach interpersonal skills. I love books such as Leadership Presence by Belle Linda Halpern and Kathy Lubar, and The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman.

    There are also a host of books and articles on emotional intelligence, which is the ability to manage one’s emotions and perceive and adapt to others’ emotions. Emotional intelligence is likewise a critical component of positive interpersonal relations. You can learn more about it in this article: What Is Emotional Intelligence and Why It Is Important

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    Active and mindful listening also support improved interpersonal skills. I recommend you take a look at this piece: Active Listening – A Skill That Everyone Should Master

    I have further found that humility helps a ton with interpersonal skills. It takes humility to admit you have more to learn and that you can learn from the people around you. In fact, everyone with whom you interact has a lesson to teach you. And employers are increasingly looking for team members who are lifelong learners, meaning they believe there is always room for growth and professional and personal development.

    Forbes contributor Kevin H. Johnson noted in a July 2018 article,

    “That’s why, when anyone asks what the next ‘hot’ skill will be, I say it’s the same skill that will serve people today, tomorrow, and far into the future—the ability to learn.”

    Don’t overlook introspection.

    While interpersonal skills may seem simple enough, introspection is critical to learning where and in what ways you need to grow.

    Through introspection and observation, I have learned that my interpersonal skills suffer when I am sleep deprived, because then I am short-tempered and irritable. I’ve observed this connection over a significant period in my life. Unsurprisingly, it is also true of others. Fellow LifeHack contributor, health coach and personal trainer Jamie Logie noted:

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    When you are chronically sleep deprived, it really does a number on you. A lack of sleep can keep your body in a constant state of stress and over time this can get pretty ugly. Elevated stress hormones can be involved in creating a bunch of pretty nasty conditions including anxiety, headaches and dizziness, weight gain, depression, stroke, hypertension, digestive disorders, immune system dysfunction, irritability.

    Additionally, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development reported,

    “Sleep deprivation can noticeably affect people’s performance, including their ability to think clearly, react quickly, and form memories. Sleep deprivation also affects mood, leading to irritability; problems with relationships, especially for children and teenagers; and depression. Sleep deprivation can also increase anxiety.”

    The point is, even as you are identifying ways to improve interpersonal skills, think about what is getting in the way. While sleep deprivation is a trigger for me, your stumbling block may be different.

    The Bottom Line

    You cannot fix what you do not know is broken. Even as you work to understand and apply interpersonal skills, spend some time in mindful meditation to get clear on what is holding you back from developing solid relationships.

    Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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