Let’s put it on the table: As an immigrant with a different language and cultural background, you may have a hard time adapting to work-life when you have just arrived in a new country.
Soon you are experiencing a difference in how you and others navigate through their days.
And soon you learn that you have to shift your practice to gain grip in the market or your niche while it seems so easy for your colleagues or competitors to connect with customers, foster team engagement and discussions.
So, what are you going to do?
As for me, I can say, as an Austrian living in Canada for 1.5 years now, I love this country and my English is probably not too bad, but my native German is such a versatile and eloquent language that I sometimes can’t immediately address my points in English, although my mind has all the answers. Feelings that come up by then are “insufficiency”, “I do sound weird”, and “I am different”.
Here are some points I have painfully learned – and I am still learning – in my practice of owning a business in a foreign country (and another business coming soon), being new to the Canadian culture, and the way of how to do business:
1. Double The Effort
Having 20 years of experience in international people-business, negotiation, connection, educating, and coaching people, feels like all gone when it comes down to simple work-related conversations & discussions because all you do is FOCUS to understand, digest, translate in your mind, trying to minimize your accent and using the right grammar when overcoming your fear of speaking.
It is uncomfortable and you have to study HARDER and be MORE prepared than others for a simple presentation or discussion.
To earn people’s trust with an accent and a different way you are expressing yourself you may have to put double the effort not only into your thoughts but your approaches and your appearance when operating your own business or leadership.
2. Appreciate Your “Difference”
You are an exotic human being in your new environment.
Appreciate that some people are curious about what you have experienced, where you come from, and what you have to bring to the table.
These are the people you want to work with. You have so much to give, but not everybody knows or appreciates that yet.
Forget desperately trying to resonate with people that have their socially assimilated networks and preferring to operate amongst each other. You will always sound differently, and unfortunately, there are a lot of people that honestly cannot open up to others who are having unfamiliar backgrounds. If you push yourself too hard, then – subconsciously – you are giving those people the power to make you feel like an impostor.
No worries, you are meant to be on the path you are on.
3. Use Your Energy
There is this famous quote that your content is not as important as how you deliver it.
So, if you are a person of expressive and positive body language you may be ahead of the game when it comes to people coming and wanting you to solve their problem.
To get there, we have to first analyze our energy, especially in these weak moments of feeling worthless and “insufficient” when it comes to talking to others and fearing their judgement.
Our self-talk really matters, not only for what we think about ourselves but as well what others see in us, expressed through our body language. Our self-worth is visible in how we show up. In front of our mirror, our friends and family, and our jobs. Our body language reveals a lot about what we think of ourselves.
So, how does your energy radiate? People buy into your energy!
If you are one of these winning aura individuals it really does not matter what you say (at least as long as it is somehow accurate).
Be assured, some people will like your thoughts packed in your radiance and won’t pay attention to your grammar or accent.
Because, in the end, all that matters is what is in your brain, mind, and heart.
We should all consciously use body language to strategically help to boost our self-confidence, self-love, support for others, and our overall success.
This entertaining and emotional TED Talk by the wonderful Amy Cuddy should give you some little and simple tweaks to do so: