#5 Relo Challenge Cultural Differences

ReloMoms Cafe and Chairs
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Cultural differences, cliques in school, are in every cafeteria. The smart people sit over there.  The pretty people sit there. The footballers in the middle gregariously demanding all the attention.

Sometimes divided by appearance
while other times belief, interest or personality.

Humans divide themselves into tribes.  A primitive survival instinct, we have done this since the beginning of time for safety and security.

The funny thing is that we don’t really do it all that well.  It’s a work in progress.

SEEING THE UNSEEN

Our son was in 4th grade when we moved to Texas from Minnesota.  Within the first few weeks he said, “The kids are nicer here.”

It wasn’t that the kids were actually nicer.  The Texas kids used a rule of respect for everyone that was similar to our son’s definition of nice.

Every community has a way that it acts.  Hence the stereotypes.

People fall in line with what is acceptable in public, even when they disagree.

ReloMoms Cultural Differences
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“HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM”

Sometimes the cultural differences attack your rules or sensibilities.

While living in Minnesota, I met a woman born and raised in Philadelphia.  She had been in Minnesota about 3 months when she asked me,

“Why are they looking at me?”  Carol said.
“What?” I responded.
“At the grocery store.  Why are the looking at me?” Carol asked again.
“Minnesotans will make eye contact as an unspoken greeting.  Sometimes they will even ask you if you need help when you look concerned.” I explained.
“Why?  I don’t like it.  What do they want?” she asked with real concern.
“Nothing.  It’s just what they do.”

Carol was truly unnerved.  Being from the Northeast, she had been taught since childhood to keep your head down, get your business done and keep moving.  Eye contact meant trouble or harm.   That Minnesota Nice thing was hard for her to understand and adapt to.

OBSERVE AND LEARN

Expect differences.

Moving around the world or even 30 miles from where you started, expect to find cultural differences from extreme to subtle

Knowing the rules of behavior and watching people in action helps you form an  understanding of where you are. To get back to living your way, this is imperative.

° How do people greet each other?
° What are some of the colloquialisms?
° What do they reference on a regular basis?
° How does the accent affect your perceptions?

Whatever you find different, ponder it.  Where does it come from?  Why do they do that?  Is this part of their cultural history or something more recent?  What are the most important issues of the local community and the larger city?

EXTREME CULTURAL DIFFERENCES

An extreme example are the serious racial problems in Baltimore. These problems have plagued this community for over 100 years.  Everyday language, attitudes, rules and expectation here both perpetuate and fight the conflict.

You might find yourself scream thinking,

“WHY CAN’T PEOPLE BE NICE, GET OVER IT
and MAKE THE COMMUNITY BETTER?

Isn’t that what everyone WANTS???”

Baltimore leaders agree: City has a race problem

Yes and no.  How do you change what is ingrained within the culture of the community?

CAREFUL JUDGING OTHERS

Coming from a like-minded community with a similar value set, causes most people to harshly judge those that live by divergent values.

Judgement creates separation and isolation.

Remember that no matter where you land, though never perfect, people are mostly good and honest.  Approaching the new community with this truth creates an expectation of finding good people and creating strong connections.

Whatever you ask, your brain will provide an answer;
whatever you look for, you’ll find.

Tony Robbins Facebook May 2016

SEEK FIRST TO UNDERSTAND, THEN BE UNDERSTOOD ~ Stephen R. Covey

Understanding is about choosing to learn about people before we judge or try to change them or a situation.   No one takes well to be challenged or belittled.  Working to understand shows respect.

Respect is a polite attitude, is not agreement.

Make an effort to understand others, even where a contradictory attitude or belief could be divisive.  We agree 100% with very few people in life, showing respect allows us time to find something we agree with.

This patience and curiosity may also provide a perspective and the space to create a real solution to cultural differences, like that of Baltimore.

CULTURE, YOURS vs. NEW

Culture is communication through words, actions, attitudes, and tone.

What are you communicating and what are they communicating?

Are either of you missing the point or misunderstanding intention?

The Cultural Differences worksheet give you a place to explore the differences between your expectations and this culture’s norms.

Immerse yourself in your community to find them all, especially the new language.

  • New York “Schlep”
  • Atlanta “Ya’ll”
  • Minnesota “You betcha”
  • Southern California “Dude”

Ultimately, you will find commonalities and your place in the new community.  You will create a support system that encourages and allows you and your family to thrive.

Identifying the differences is the starting point to making this home.

If you have any suggestions to help others please email me at Annette@ReloMoms.com.  Together we live great Relo Lives!!

Annette
A ReloMom currently in the wilds of Texas, working to encourage and inspire others while seeking another adventure.


Resources

Cultural Differences Worksheet

Silent Language by Edward T Hall talks about how the secondary or unconscious culture moves with us from place to place and how it affects our sense of self and our interactions with others.

Avoiding Election Infection: How to keep your influence in a divisive world by Andy Stanley

#3 Relocation Challenge–Navigating My New Community

Navigating. I use GPS!

Navigating. I use GPS
Free photo 87858161 © creativecommonsstockphotos – Dreamstime.com

Navigating an Abandoned Road
Elderly man drives into Sand Pile
Girl drives down boat path into lake
Limo Driver follows GPS down a flight of stairs
Driving into the ocean and 8 other spectacular fails as GPS turns 25
by Sarah Wolfe Global Post PRI

Knowing HOW to get there is a big deal.
GPS is not the whole answer.

Though some of these stories are funny, not finding the DMV after driving an hour, being late picking up the kids, or ending up in a dangerous part of town is not funny.

To live well in a community, you must know your community’s layout, landmarks and how to get ________(there).

COMMUNITY

A PAPER Map.  To many younger than 40 that might seem unreasonable.  However, a paper map, one you can spread out on your kitchen table, is the first step to understanding where you live.

Starting with a paper map identify the major highways and which part of town they are in.  They could be on the north edge, go northeast to southwest or potentially a loop.  By identifying these and knowing generally where you are in the city, NOW you are never lost.

Next identify the landmarks in your city and put a star or highlight the intersection on your paper map.  Whether they are major, like the St. Louis Arch or what your sister would judge minor the high school or the only stoplight in town, mark it all.

Identify landmarks on all sides of town.  Even If one of them is the only sign of civilization truck stop on the west side mark it.

This layering of information creates a spatial map in your brain engaging the navigational abilities we were all born with.

A MAP IN YOUR BRAIN

https://www.facebook.com/StormMountainCenter/photos/a.400315725123/10153339728925124/?type=3&theaterThis is NOT Mount Rushmore
an actual sign 13 miles from Mount Rushmore
referenced in the May 2016 issue of Time Magazine article How GPS is messing with our minds.

Practically, with a spatial map you:

  1. Know how to get there
  2. Are never truly lost
  3. Do not waste time
  4. KNOW IMMEDIATELY if Siri/Waze/GoogleMaps is sending you the wrong way.

GPS, as good as it is, is flawed.  Waze, as much as I LOVE it above the rest, sends me into some of the worst neighborhood when I am not paying attention.

Like with everything else in life we must take responsibility for where we are.  This is as much for our safety as the safety of those we love.

FUN WITH PRACTICE

We have a bird’s eye view of where we are going.  We know the major landmarks to verify our route along the way.  Now it is time to practice getting there.

We might as well choose something fun as our first destination.

Let’s say you have a passion for Italian Ice, fabric stores or select soccer.  Find the top 3 of your thing and plot them on the map.

  • Look over the directions both on your paper map and GPS.
  • Print out your directions
  • Make your way to your destination without voice directions

Without voice direction you notice the environment around you and increase practical knowledge of the area.  Are these good areas of town?  Would I walk around here?  Is there a brewery or pie shop to explore next time?

Each trip into the community will provide another thread of information that ultimately makes this community, your community.

YOUR SUPER POWER

Becoming a navigational expert in your area is a SuperPower!  Who knew all you needed was a paper map and a little practice

Most locals only venture within a 2 mile radius.

You will find that they will start asking you how to get places.  Being navigational expert people will start asking you, the new kid, how to get there.   All is all, it is an easy and practical way to understand where you live.

Perhaps you can even encourage others to learn about and engage more in their community.

If you have any suggestions to help others please email me at Annette@ReloMoms.com.  Together we live great Relo Lives!!

Annette
A ReloMom currently in the wilds of Texas, working to encourage and inspire others while seeking another adventure.

RELOCATION: Who To Call

Relocation erases your call listWho to Call??

After moving in, not having someone to call for advice or a referral is the first thing you realize you don’t have.

Something has broken, someone is sick or
you just need to know how the local process of ______ works.

The only local people you know are your realtor, mortgage banker and the moving guys who just left.  Though they want to help, they don’t know you and cannot recommend based on who you are and what you actually need.

My mother, another seasoned ReloMom of 14 moves, will tell you that as nice as these people are, most have not relocated.  They are rarely in a similar life stage or have the perspective needed to answer a ReloMom question.

As a ReloMom, you should have a great deal of skepticism in their ability to provide you with good matches.  It is not intent.  But you need to filter everything they share, and check it against who you are and what you know.

With that being said, they will be your best resource in the short term,
so let’s help them help you!

Having a succinct definition of (1) how you work and (2)what types of people work best with you will fast track good answers.  START by asking your current friends!

Call Trusted Friends

If you were back in Chicago (or any previous home town), you would call Suzi to borrow the lawn mower or Tom from PTA Dads about who painted their house.  Today you are going to call these friends to ask them about you.

Ever heard friends say, “When I walk into my new house, I will just know it.”  It’s the same with people.  We trust that we will just feel it when we meet the right people.  In a HURRY,…maybe, maybe not.

Being new, you typically don’t have that kind of time.  Putting your life together requires insert name of handyman, professional or doctor, NOW.  Your long distance friends many not know those people, but they will have insight as to how your choose these people.

WHY Call??

A Similar Perspective.  Perhaps a similar life stage, a special skill or you just know them.  Talking about the mundane and important over a few years gives insight.  They witnessed you choose, those successes and the failures.

Trust who you Call

These are the people you already trust for a recommendation, with your kids and know they will show up in an emergency.  You again trust them as you evaluate their recommendations now.

The attached worksheet will give you a framework to identify these people and why they will help you in different areas.

What this will boils down to is your experience with each one and the values you share.  Everyone will not be perfectly aligned in everything but all of it will help you choose who to put on your local call list.

It’s nerve racking to put this together on the fly.  This initial list will be better because of a few phone calls to those who know you.

Click here for the worksheet.

For more information or ask a question, please email me at Annette@RelocationHawk.com