Why is working internationally (sometimes) so frustrating?
Think about the last time you got frustrated with something or someone? Most likely something didn’t turn out the way you would have liked it to or someone didn’t say or do what you wanted them to. Hmm… it appears what you’d like or what you want is part of the equation, in other words, your expectations.
"Our inability to recognize and to clearly express our expectations can cause many communication issues."
Most frustration arises because of the gap between an expectation and whether or not it is met. But for someone to meet an expectation you have, they need to first know about it, and, perhaps even more importantly, you have to know about it yourself! And that’s the heart of the problem. Our inability to recognize and to clearly express our expectations can cause many communication issues. Some expectations are shared and known implicitly, as they might be between 2 people who have known each other a long time, or among groups, like families, communities, companies, or larger groups like countries. Those common expectations are part of what constitutes a common culture. But how about people you are not that close to, or just do not know well, or who are in a different country?
Let’s take a simple example: It’s Monday in a typical American office, and you fire off the same email to your colleagues Mark and John. You immediately receive an out of office notice from Mark stating he’ll be back on Thursday. Your email is not urgent so you decide to wait. Wednesday rolls around, still nothing from John. You may be growing frustrated with John at this point but you wouldn’t be frustrated with Mark. The difference? Obvious: You expect a response in 24 to 48 hours, because you are all 3 in the U.S. and that is the accepted norm in your company.