A Research Paper By Rana Al Jamal, Growth Mindset Coach, PALESTINE
Nowadays people from all around the globe are constantly moving from their original countries to another for various reasons; political, social, and/or economic. Some move by choice and others are unfortunately forced to leave for Survival. In both cases, those people need to find an adaptation mechanism to survive.
Growth Mindset Coaching Adaptation Within Different Cultures
Adaptation refers usually to the basic biological and economic conditions enabling survival. It assumes adopting within certain spheres – mainly those related to work, of patterns of behavior and norms dominant in the host environment while maintaining own patterns of behavior and values within the private sphere. On other hand, integration means a process and state where immigrant individuals and groups establish relatively robust relationships with 46 members of the host community and take part in diverse aspects of its life, while not abandoning their own national identity.
In this research paper, my focus will be on how coaching can help people adapt and integrate into different cultures. According to many researchers, people go through four stages while reallocating which is called the “culture shock”; (honeymoon, negotiation, adjustment, and adaptation).
The “Honeymoon Stage” is the euphoric phase when people are fascinated by all the exciting and different aspects of their new life – from the sights and smells to the pace of life and cultural habits.
The “Negotiation Stage” is when the excitement gradually disappears due to continuing to face difficulties and/or discomfort, which makes the newcomers feel disconnected. This stage is usually characterized by frustration and anxiety. At this phase, the coaches’ role comes in handy in trying to help the client move to the “Adjustment Stage”, especially that despite the difficulties encountered, the client can still handle those issues rationally and measurably and thus move afterward to the “Adaptation Stage”. Finally, the client is settled and comfortable in the new country, better integrated, and has successfully adapted to the new way of life.
What is Culture?
Defining cultures in the research paper is important since it can highlight the challenges the coach may encounter and so she/he can consider them when dealing with clients in need of adaptation and help them develop their mindset towards their goal.
Culture is an integrated system of learned behavior patterns that are characteristic of the members of any given society. Culture is the total way of life of particular groups of people. It includes everything that a group of people thinks, says, does, and makes — its systems, attitudes, and feelings. Culture is learned and transmitted from generation to generation.
As we can see there might be a new system, behavior, thinking, and attitude in the new culture that the client needs to process while developing a growth mindset to understand and deal with to be able to adapt.
What is Growth Mindset?
As Carol Dweck defined, the growth mindset is when you believe the abilities you are born with are a starting point. You can get smarter and grow with hard work, persistence, and the right learning strategies. You have a passion for learning, welcome mistakes as opportunities to learn, and seek challenges so you can stretch.
Why It Is Important to Have a Growth Mindset While Relocating?
Usually, people feel disoriented in new cultures with new behaviors, lifestyles, or language barriers. Those differences may lead to symptoms such as confusion, anxiety, frustration, loneliness, and/or homesickness. In some cases, it might as well lead to physical symptoms.
The coaches work come to support learning will, to a great extent, support the capability of the client to adapt to its environment by;
- Problem identification
- Analyzing to create awareness, flexibility, and ability to adapt to change.
- Transfer Synthesis along with practical skills such as:
- Priority setting/Action
Where to Start When Clients Approach the Coach?
As a start it would be very helpful to create a growth mindset Agree/Disagree/Not Sure quiz to enable the client to have a clear view on his way of thinking and at the same helps the coach to test the willingness of the client for change
- I am not always right.
- The way of my thinking is changeable.
- I can find good things in other cultures and learn from them.
- Language is a talent that cannot be learned.
According to the clients’ answers, the coach will be able to build more questions to adjust the growth mindset and thus avoid the barriers that are facing the client and act as an obstacle for their adaptation by questioning.
- What makes you believe that you are always right? Give a situation when you were not right.
- How changing your thinking can help you? What changes in your thinking happened before that helped you?
- What do you like and dislike in the culture that you are trying to adapt to right now? What do you like and dislike in your culture? What is your learning of what have just said?
- Do you know a foreigner that learned the language? How did he do this? What is holding you from learning? What can you do to learn the language?
I believe that asking “What made you leave your country?” is an important question since people sometimes forget why they moved in the first place or what was their long-term goal! It could be very helpful to get them back to it because any measured change we take in our lives is for a reason. It could be economical, political, education, or many other reasons, but there is always a reason. What is interesting here in the different reasons mentioned is that “everyone is looking for something better”, basically, something positive. A growth mindset will help them to move closer to being able to do what they have set out to do.
Changing Thinking From “Black or White” to “Black & White”
Part of the growth mindset is shifting thinking from black or white thinking to black and white. Black or white mentality might limit the client from being aware of where he might be wrong.
We, humans, tend to generalize without being aware of the impact of the words in our brains by saying;
- “Everything is terrible in this place”,
- “Life is bad”,
- “The food doesn’t taste well”,
- “This is wrong or right” …
The Coach Can Play an Important Role by Asking the Below Questions
- Why do people live in this place if everything is that terrible? What can you do to make it better?
- How beautiful life looks like to you? What can you do to make your life better?
- What food in your country do you like &what someone you know dislikes?
- How is this thinking serving you? What was right for you and wrong for another person from your family members at your home?
Brook Castillo in her podcast “All or nothing thinking” said we need to consider what we are missing? What do we have to learn here? In addition, being open and not afraid to consider other ideas and knowing that values will hold for us or that maybe we want to question our values and question our history and what we have learned and maybe how we want to change.
When we look at how people progress throughout their life, most of them change their ideas and/or perception about things regularly. I see this as a beautiful thing and does not necessarily mean that we are bad or were bad. It means that we developed, learned, changed, and evolved and that is part of growing up. In life, good and bad exist and when we can embrace it all, we will be freer because we will be able to forgive others and ourselves and comprehend the differences among each other.
We need to accept that we as humans have more than one belief system and more than one value system. The best way to deal with those systems and adapt to all of them is to set our priorities and thus direct our actions towards our choices.7
On her YouTube channel, while discussing adapting to a new culture and going through culture shock, Michelle Grimaud gave us some very important tips worth considering. Below are a few tips:
Prepare Your Mindset
Mindset is everything humans need to consider when moving to a new place and try to adapt avoiding culture shock. In the beginning, and as mentioned above, people start at the excitement level but still need to be patient and confident. This is the base for adjustment or/and adaptation.
Patience for yourself: you are going to change Separate variations of yourself (new version of yourself)
Get Ready for Different Interaction Styles
Around the world, people greet others differently by hugs, different numbers of kisses, handshakes. No need to feel awkward or anxious since you will get used to it! We all have different levels of personal space.
Make Local Friends
We need to try to make local friends that could help us adapt easier. Having local friends would help actively practice the language and welcome cultural differences; it can even help us understand the humor of these new countries. Local friends are always a good tool to realize the country’s trends, practices and proprieties by living it. For example, punctuality in time in some countries is not important but in other countries, it is considered disrespectful to not commit to the time.
Prepare Your Body (Food)
Unavailability of familiar food to us might be a problem at the beginning. Therefore, preparing our self for that and being open to trying the local food, and checking what can be acceptable for us is a helpful mechanism to adapt
Many times, while relocating we tend to focus on our target or the great things that we are looking for and forget that we might face unexpected things for example the “cultural differences” which might negatively affect us if we do not have a positive mindset.
Tim Retting Well Described in His Article;
“Tribal thinking causes us to see another culture’s way of thinking as being opposed to our own. Instead of seeing it as having the potential for learning a different type of wisdom which has developed over thousands of generations, we thus see it as incompatible with who we are.”
All cultures have their very own wisdom inherent within them and that by internalizing this wisdom; we can gain a completely new perspective on the world.
The basic requirement here is that instead of looking at two belief systems as inherently incompatible with one another, we perceive them as something that can be integrated, thus forming a greater whole.
Being an Arab growing up in a European country can be a good example for this research paper. I spent my childhood in the Czech Republic and so I enrolled in local schools, which allowed me not to only have Arab friends but also local friends. Then I moved to Slovakia for my higher education and finally ended up in Palestine where I got married and now have a great family.
From my personal experience and throughout the years I was able to sense the cultural difference even among people holding the same nationality. There are indeed basic common cultural practices that gather people from the same origin; language, traditions, food, etc. Still, other differences surface when dealing with them separately depending on their priorities and values. Therefore, this can explain the big gap and the culture shock that people may encounter when living in a very different culture.
Despite the above mentioned, I still believe that human nature is adaptable and can customize to new environments and circumstances. It is though easier said than done but defiantly not impossible. With setting our priorities and some persistence, things can for the sure look and feel better. There is no perfect place or perfect situation; it is how we make the best out of our life.
I indeed miss many things that I enjoyed in Europe; the system, the space and most importantly my friends but that do not mean that I do not like my life now in Palestine with the great weather, the good food, and the family. There are always good things in each place we live in but we need to look for these things and enjoy them and most importantly try to adapt to the changes/obstacles to survive.
Finally, the most important thing I have learned and helped me move forward is accepting others’ differences and not judging them on their way of living.
Again as Tim Retting said
no individual has ever been able to get a complete understanding of reality. Neither has any single culture. And honestly — probably nobody ever will.
Author: Małgorzata Budyta-Budzyńska(page 45), Adaptation, integration, assimilation – an attempt at a theoretical approach
Author: Małgorzata Budyta-Budzyńska (page 45-46), Adaptation, integration, assimilation – an attempt at a theoretical approach
Culture Shock Stages: Everything You Need to Know (now-health.com) Author: Lauren McCluskey
L. Robert Kohls, Survival Kit for Overseas Living. 4th ed. Nicholas Brealey
Mindset Book Summary by Carol S. Dweck (shortform.com)
Culture Shock Stages: Everything You Need to Know (now-health.com) Author: Lauren McCluskey