International work in an international world. Part II: surviving as a foreigner in an international company.
If you are new in a company, many things can go wrong. Adapting yourself in an international company in another country may be easier than fighting with the language barrier in a small local SME, but still a challenge. If you found yourself away from home in an international giant, here are some basic tips:
- Manage to eat: Eat with everybody what they all eat, where they all eat, when they all eat. Eating is one of the most ancient ways of getting closer to people. Your tasks are not your first priority – you REALLY should eat the way your colleagues do.
- Manage to participate: Meetings are a necessity for your job, but clubs are the necessity to keep your job. If your colleagues do anything in their spare time, be it yoga, evening cocktails or even sailing, do yourself a favour and participate. The social game is the next most important ancient way of becoming a part of a group.
- Manage to talk: Personally, I feel like an idiot when people are discussing football. I have neither love nor interest for football. I will be by no means able to support a conversation on this topic – but surely can ask 1-2 questions to be polite and show my respect to the interests of my colleagues.
- Manage to avoid: Topics related to politics, critics of behaviours and cultures, personal life details, religion, talking about other colleagues. Many people know that those topics are taboo, but I still hear them every week.
- Manage to observe: How people are interacting with each other. How are they reacting, responding, working, greeting others and asking about favours. It might be very different from what you are used to.
- Manage to explain: Feel free to explain, why you do things differently. Feel free to tell that you don’t eat pork or should wear a head scarf all the time. Every normal international company should show acceptance to the basics.