I coach Expat Partners to live a fulfilled life so they can flourish in their own unique way!




Top 8 Communication Skills for Expat Partners

Geschreven door Heidi Los

The ability to communicate effectively as an Expat Partner with the people around you in the new country is essential no matter what home country or background you have. If you don’t speak the language of the host country, it’s even more important to communicate effectively. Expat Partners must know how to effectively convey and receive messages. Read more about the top 8 Communication Skills for Expat Partners:

Communication short: ‘transferring information from A to Z’.

Communication skills for Expat Partners

Let me navigate you through the Top 8 Communication Skills for Expat Partners:

1. Respect

People will be more open to you if you show them respect; if you convey respect for their ideas and culture. No matter the distance between your home and host country, culture is always different from what you are used to. And so is the way of communicating with each other. Showing respect is key to any kind of communication.

Stay focused on the conversation. Using simple actions like actively listening when a person speaks, using the person’s name, making eye contact (eye contact is expected in Western cultures) are basic essentials to social interaction.

2. Non-verbal communication

Communication is effective when words are in sync with the presentation and style. Only a small part of our communication is just through words. Important, also, are the tone of voice and body language.

Body language, hand gestures, tone of voice all color the message. Non-verbal signals convey how a person is really feeling.

If you open up for non-verbal communication, you are able to understand (parts of) the conversation, sometimes without even speaking the language very well. You can hone these skills in order to learn more about the people you are talking with and the culture that surrounds them.

3. Friendliness

A simple smile can make the difference. The people you talk to will be more open and honest. The same is true of a friendly tone or a personal question. Your intention of being friendly will be rewarded like icing on the cake.

4. Open mindedness

If you enter any conversation with a flexible open mind it will lead you to more productive and authentic conversations.

Being receptive to new ideas and the belief that others should be free to express their views on things in life will make communication -and life in general- easier.

If you live abroad, you are exposed to different values and beliefs via the culture and the people around you. Open the door to your mind and let new ideas and beliefs come in.

What else…

Let’s move on the numbers 5-8 of the Communication Skills for Expat Partners:

5. Empathy

Being aware of the feelings and emotions of other people -which is a key element of emotional intelligence- is the link between self and others. Be aware of others’ feelings, needs and concerns without being swamped by the feelings of others. Try to tailor the way you interact with others to fit with their needs and feelings. We all bring different things to the table.

6. Listening

Active listening is paying attention to what the other person is saying. By asking clarifying questions and rephrasing what the other says, you will ensure understanding. If you really listen well, you will better understand what the other person is trying to say. Only then can you respond appropriately.

7. Simplicity (or clarity)

Deliver your message to others in as few words as possible. Think about what you want to say before you start speaking. This will help you and it’s more likely you will see less confusion with your audience.

Try to avoid drifting away from your actual message or question. Your listener will know what you want without tuning out.

Use the quality of being easily understood. Check in with the other person to see if you are clear to them.

8. Confidence

In general, it is important to be confident in your interaction with others; even if you do not feel confident with the language, yet. Let me explain: Not speaking the language (yet) could be one of the main problems in terms of understanding one another, of course. The more enthusiasm and belief you show the other (not in speaking the language but in wanting to learn the language) the more confidence you will exude.

Open your mouth and just do it

Make sure you feel more confident bit by bit, or day by day. Attend a language course, visit conversation classes and watch local TV as soon as and as much as possible. The only way to learn a language is to just open your mouth and speak it! The more you (try to) speak the language, the better you will become and the better others will understand you. Don’t worry about making mistakes because they will lead you to the next level.

It is easier to connect with the new friends, families and colleagues in the new country if you improve your communication skills. It’s up to you!

If you like this blog about Communication Skills for Expat Partners, please share among your friends. ♥ Thank you! You can also read and share (yes please) the blog about LinkedIn that is also about communication.

  • Francis zegt: 07 February 2017 communication in another country, even if you speak the language, is a challenge as there are so many social rules to follow and non verbal mistakes you can make. Even moving from Holland to Belgium was a big change in this respect. I am glad that you mentioned the difference regarding eye contact (in Western cultures) as in some countries this could be intimidating and putting yourself above the person you are talking to. These communication skills are important for all expats (not just the partners).
    • Heidi Los zegt: 07 February 2017 Communication is always difficult, actually in all cases (Expat, Expat Partner or the communication with your friends - and don't forget family…)! So, I agree that this is for all expats, Francis! I also like your comment about your experience in Belgium, a lot of people underestimated this.

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