Oversea Conflict

Going overseas can be stressful for many people, especially if it is for a business assignment. Even though it may be stressful there are many ways to try to help make it less stressful. A good way to help with this stressful situation is to be prepared for talking with foreign co-workers. There are many ways to prepare for this like, knowing which country the assignment is in, the length of the assignment, and learn some about their culture.

Upon getting tasked to an assignment in a foreign country, first figure out which country it will be in. Knowing which country the assignment will be in will help to break the language barrier if there is one. The co-workers may speak the same language or they may speak the one common in their country. Knowing what language your co-workers speak will help to know if there will be a language barrier that could cause problems. If there is going to be a language barrier, then the best thing to do would be to learn more about their language. When learning another language some research is going to have to be done in order to efficiently learn the language. The amount of their language that would need to be learned would have to depend on the length of the assignment.

The length of the assignment can determine a lot about how prepared a person needs to be when going on an overseas assignment. If a person is only going to be there for about a week or two then some language should be learned. For this short amount of time, a person should be prepared enough that the language will not be a problem for them to speak and understand, but the person would not need to become fluent in the language. However, if the person is going to be on the assignment for a year or more, then the language should be more familiar to them before they leave.

The knowledge of the culture of the country is very important to know in order to be prepared for an overseas assignment. Knowing the culture is very important especially if the person has to do any public speaking. Some cultures can have different meanings to things than other countries. For instance, in the United States the cuss words are different from the cuss words of Great Britain. Therefore, something that would mean nothing in the U.S. can cause some conflict if unknowingly said in Great Britain. Another big example would be hand gestures, like the okay hand symbol. This is normal everyday behavior in the U.S. that means okay, but in other countries this symbol would be ‘flipping someone off’. To be prepared for speaking to foreign co-workers knowing the culture is a big one to ensure that there would not be any conflict or awkward situations.

Being unprepared for a business assignment overseas can be very stressful. The best way to reduce stress during this situation is to be prepared for everything that could make the assignment stressful, like a gesture that could ruin the speech that will land the company a new business in another country. Overall, an employee can best be prepared by knowing where, how long, and the culture of the business assignment.

By Heather Hehe, English Major-IUPUC

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