What are the characteristics of a successful Expat?

Accepting an international assignment and thereby becoming an expat is one of the most important decisions you can make for your career and life. Needless to say, you want to be good at being an expat. It is something you’ll be doing in the long term. Here, we look at some of the characteristics that make a successful expat.

Cultural sensitivity

To be a successful expat, it’s important that you not only learn the culture of the country where you live and work but to also integrate yourself into it. Expats that have this characteristic are genuinely interested in the new culture. Moreover, they are passionate and curious about learning new things about it.

In addition, successful expats usually have a healthy sense of humor.

They are open to the fact that other countries and cultures might have better ways of approaching situations than the approaches viewed as the best in their home countries. For that reason, they are more likely to accept the new culture for what it is and to let go of unhelpful preconceptions.

Important to mention in this respect is language. Successful expats have linguistic skills as well as the time and willingness to learn a new language. This further improves their ability to fit in.

Adaptability and problem-solving skills

Another important aspect of the career of a successful expat is being adaptable. A simple way to look at this characteristic: A successful expat is not rigid about the methods used to achieve the desired results within the required time-frame. As mentioned earlier, the people in different cultures usually have different ways of approaching a situation or problems. This is because their unique culture has equipped them with a different perspective on things.

To be a successful expat, you need to demonstrate flexibility. Moreover, you need to be ready to incorporate some of the problem-solving strategies that are used in the new culture. Having access to more than one effective strategy increases your chances of success provided you can figure out which one to apply.

A spirit of adventure

Most successful expats yearn for new and exciting experiences both in the career as well as their life in general. This may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about the qualities that make a person successful in their career. However, when it comes to being a successful expat, having an adventurous spirit plays a role that’s moderately important at the very least.

The importance of this characteristic is better understood when you consider culture shock, difficulties with learning a new language, and a strong attachment to the way of life in one’s home country. They are all barriers to success in one’s expat career. You need to be willing to try and fail at new things and to have an outgoing spirit.

Curiosity and open-mindedness

Closely related to the previous characteristic are curiosity and the open-mindedness that usually accompanies it. A crucial prerequisite to the spirit of adventure is the inquisitiveness that helps foster the desire to venture into uncharted territory.

Curiosity and open-mindedness support adaptability. It improves the problem-solving capacity of a successful expat because they are trying to learn the attitudes and approaches of the people in the new culture. The energy that one draws from having an inquisitive mind is self-sustaining. It places emphasis on the journey rather than the destination.

Interpersonal skills

A successful expat with good interpersonal skills knows that everybody wants to be heard. Therefore, developing your ability to listen actively and be fully present is a surefire way of gaining friends in the new workplace and influencing people.

You don’t necessarily have to be an extrovert to be good at your job as an expat.

Introverts are known for being good listeners. They can leverage that aspect of your personality to your advantage. As a result, your clients, colleagues and even your superiors may come to you when they’re in search of a listening ear. In turn, this can help you position yourself as one of the most trusted people in your new work environment.

Developing active listening skills helps you avoid one of the biggest mistakes most people make. This is jumping to conclusions too quickly when they’re listening to someone else speak.

Develop these skills and watch your expat career soar

Working as an expat can be both lucrative and exciting. Developing the characteristics and skills highlighted in this article will start you on your journey to becoming not only a successful expat but also successful in your life in general.

These skills include cultural sensitivity, adaptability, adventurousness, curiosity/open-mindedness, and interpersonal skills.