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You're Not From Around Here, Are Ya?

Fitting in to a New Place Where Everyone Looks and Sounds Different than You


When we travel to a foreign destination, it’s expected that we will look and speak different than the people around us. No big deal. We’ll be back home in our comfort zone before we know it. In the meantime, we can learn a few basic lines of their language and get by relatively easy.


But what about when you don’t have a return ticket? Now we’re talking about a different feeling. Do you know that feeling? I just so happen to be experiencing that feeling for the first time. I must say it was quite unexpected, as I’ve traveled before and been the person that looks very different from everyone else on more than one occasion.


When there is no end in sight to this feeling, it takes things to a whole new extreme. I very quickly began to realize how much more Spanish I have to learn. It’s not that I don’t know quite a bit, I really do. However, until I came to Mexico to live indefinitely and immersed myself into a town with culture that I didn’t even know existed 3 months ago, I am really waking up to how little I know.



Waking up in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico


I am waking up to this view, though, which is about the only thing I’ve become familiar with here. I would also say I’m becoming familiar with hearing the roosters beginning to crow at 3:30AM. Beyond that though, I’m akin to a fish out of water here.


Why Live Life on hard mode?

I think this is a very important question to ask ourselves. As I think about the entirety of my client base, I think of everyone’s story and why everyone left their home country to live in the US. There are many different reasons, and not all of you even had a choice to stay and live in your home country.


When we seek to get down to the root cause, there are only 3 reasons as to why we consistently choose to make life harder on ourselves. They come in the following flavors:

  • Fear - “if I don’t learn/improve this skill, I will lose my job, or possibly my life”

  • Money - “if I learn/improve this skill, I can get a new job or a raise and make more money”

  • Love - “if I learn/improve this skill, I can find love, make new friends, or both”

When it comes to improving English, some of you know the first flavor, fear. I would say the rest of you opted for the second dish, money. I opted for plate number 3, love, with a side of “what the hell was I thinking?” Although to be fair, a fair number of you also opted for love as you tagged along with your partner to the US, so a few of you are in the same boat with me ;)


All of the hard choices and difficult things that we do in life can be boiled down to one, or a combination of, these 3 things. If it’s truly for one of these reasons, you will achieve your goals. Otherwise, you’re wasting your time. I don’t make the rules, I just follow them. Sorry.


Overcoming Cultural Differences to Make New Friends - At Work or in Your Community


If there is one thing I know, it’s that people love talking about themselves and telling their stories.

"Remember that a person's name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language." - Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People

I often give this advice, and have practiced it a lot over the last year at networking and social events alike. That is, do whatever you can to ask someone you’ve just met questions about themself. In theory it sounds so simple. In practice, it is also very simple. My conclusion is that it really, really works.


When you show genuine interest in someone, 9 times out of 10 they will reciprocate the energy and be glad to tell you about themself. There are 2 keys to executing this advice properly.

  • Smile - If you smile, the likelihood of this strategy working is ~99%. If you don’t, odds are closer to 0%

  • Use open ended questions - ask questions that use ‘what’ or ‘how’ instead of ‘when’ or ‘why’ i.e. - “what led you down the path of becoming an attorney?” or “how did you end up here?”

The smile is most important. We are emotional beings, and we are naturally drawn to people who look friendly. Think about seeing two people walk into a room, one with a smile and one without. Who are you more likely to talk to if they approach you?




Open ended questions invite the person to tell a story. Our own personal stories are our favorite books, written by yours truly, yourself. We all have incredible stories. The people we have met, places we have seen, and experiences we have gained sum up to equal the reasons for why we make the decisions that we do on a daily basis. “If they only knew why I’m here doing this…” Ever have that thought?


It will be time to tell your story soon. But first, hear someone else’s story. You will get to know them, and based on what you find out, you will be able to decide if you’d like to get to know that person further or not. The other beauty to this is that you won’t have to talk much, which is good if you’re still not able to speak their lingo as good as you would like (I’m projecting myself onto you right now ;)).


Homework

The next time you meet someone new, make sure to ask them about them. Do it with a smile on your face, and a genuine interest. I would love to hear how it goes for you. Feel free to email me your results, or drop a comment down below. I will share my results of how it goes for me in Mexico as well!


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