7 First Impression Tips for Travelers

First impressions. You only get one chance at them. So, let’s talk how you make the best first impression, before that day comes.

First Impressions Are Important

Always good to make a good first impression. That’s true when meeting anyone. But when we move overseas, especially to places where we’re obviously the minority, people take special notice of you.

So, when we move abroad, that first impression can be huge, and lasting. Here are 7 tips to help us not embarrass ourselves.

1. Study / Research / Learn

Before you board any plane, you’re thinking about a zillion things at once. You’re thinking about a job and where to stay. You’re thinking about money, the cost of food, transportation, electricity. And what about the language…should you learn 1-10 first, or “where’s the bathroom?”. Or maybe you’re already dreaming what hot vacation spots are nearby.

First things first: learn proper greetings, ways to say thank you, sorry, and how much. Research cultural differences, like personal space, what hand to use, eye contact and many more – all these help shape that first impression.

2. Two Ears > One Mouth

The other day I heard a mother sternly say to her child: “You have two ears, but only one mouth for a reason!”

At the time, I thought “What a bitch.” But I’m a dad and felt her frustration.

Anyway, the phrase works for new expats— keep your ears (& eyes) open. The greatest opportunity for this is when you’re with new people and you watch them greet each other, and how they introduce you to others.

Listen and watch closely. Then speak or do. Or try at least.

3. When Shaking Hands, Don’t be a Dominant Braggart

Handshaking is just one example, a clear jab at US President trump. Because, to rest of the world, he is the perfect “dominant braggart.”

When you’re about to make a first impression, you might be nervous. That’s cool and totally understandable. Anyone who cares, is going to be a bit nervous. But it doesn’t mean overcompensate, go over the top with dominance and showmanship.

Trump handshake

In general, don’t be an asshole.

4. Be Humble and Confident.

This is a step up from #3. Confidence and courage come from being calm.

If you don’t feel confident, then fake it till you make it. You’ll find, faster than you can imagine, your confidence gets very real.

5. Loudly, Slowly, Smile

I bet I have written this phrase on the site before. If I wrote “loudly, slowly, smile” before, I also probably told the story.

In South Korea, waaay back in 1996, when a sweet teen-aged student told the new, nervous TESL teacher (me), how some days I was a better teacher on some days than other days. The “good days, you are loudly, slowly. And smile.”

Proof having a calm, happy confidence works.
Speak loudly, speak slowly and with a sincere smile.

6. Speak With Your Body

Most communication is non-verbal. You probably hear that as much as “make a good first impression.”

And what about when traveling or living abroad? Wow, when abroad, the non-verbal communication takes over! Especially when we don’t understand the host language (–and they don’t understand yours).

This brings up two important points. First, be mindful of your normal non-verbal communication (stance, facial expression, arm/hands waving). Basically, what you appear to say if you were in a silent picture. Second, be mindful of how you use your hands or sounds to get your idea across (gestures, pointing). This is super useful for communicating your question or idea, but be aware some gesture innocent to you, turns out to be offensive to someone else.

When there’s a language barrier, non-verbal communication can become the only language. Use it well!

7. Never Stop Improving on that First Impression

Hey, the bottom line is, it is loads of fun living abroad, communicating and understanding others. It’s a journey of a 1000 steps.

Sure, it starts with the best first impression. But everyone you meet recognizes you’re new to their home and their ways. You’ll be given lots of latitude in improving on that first impression.

 

 

18 Excellent Tips from Expert Expats

I wrote to 18 people whom I consider expert expats.

Some make a living by travelling, others traveled to go make a living.

I asked them all 1 question: What is your advice to an expat?

Here are their replies:

Continue reading 18 Excellent Tips from Expert Expats

Non-Verbal Communication

My wife is outstanding at knowing what I’m thinking. She’ll tell me what I’m thinking. In fact, sometimes I didn’t even know I was thinking that. (Sound familiar?)
She knows what I’m thinking because my face reveals a lot while we’re talking. My eyes, especially my eyebrows, how my mouth is formed, where I’m looking – all communicate my feelings at the time. And as I write this, I understand this is probably why my friends enjoy playing poker with me. They watch, they know – they win.
The value of recognizing and reading non-verbal communication is obvious. If you can “read” people’s non-verbal communication, you’ll win. Much more than at poker, of course.
What made me write this? I was writing messages to include in month 6 or 7 of the “Gone in 1 Year” program, and it hit me how non-verbal communication really affects home and poker life. So helpful to be aware of our own face and posture when speaking with others.
Have a great day everyone!

What Does English Sound Like?

Ever wonder what English sounds like, if you don’t speak English?

Watch and enjoy:

Pretty neat, isn’t it? It’s as if you know they’re speaking English, but you just can’t understand them, like they’re speaking too softly. But it’s not English at all, it’s nonsense; no real communication at all. And if you’re a native English speaker, you know this to be true immediately.

Continue reading What Does English Sound Like?

Why Learn a New Language

I’m writing a post on why to learn a foreign language? Really? The question shouldn’t be “why” but “why not??
But what the hell, I’ll go with the “why.”

First, I’ll bet today, you believe you’re smart enough, attractive enough, interesting enough and people like you. Am I right?
Continue reading Why Learn a New Language

Thirteen Years of National Emergency

Heard the News?

Just in case you missed the news, US President Obama quietly extended the country’s status of national emergency. I’m guessing you missed that bit of news. Though, you probably didn’t miss the fact the year is now 2014.

I know what you’re thinking… it’s 2014, and the terrorist attack which killed nearly 3000 people on September 11, 2001 happened in 2001. That’s like …13 years ago. Yup, 13 years. Yup, the US, the most (insert here: powerful/wealthy/nuclear-tipped/war faring/inch-measuring) country in the world, still running scared in a state of national “Oh GAWD, the sky is falling!” emergency.

It's a trap!

Thirteen Years. Seriously?

Do you know what you were doing during the attack? For millions of Americans, it’s the annual conversation-starter question, if ever there was one.

Continue reading Thirteen Years of National Emergency

The World’s 10 Most Expensive & Cheapest Cities To Live

You want to work abroad. You follow the steps, nail the interview and hear their salary offer.

Is it enough? How much is enough?

Sure, now you know how much you’re taking in. But how much will be going out? How much for a month’s rent, a loaf of bread, a gallon of gas?

For some cities, you’ll make more than enough to pay for a good life, plus sock away the rest in savings.

And for some cities, …well, you should have countered with a higher salary.

How should you have known? You could have known. Research.

For now, let me give you the 10 most expensive and the 10 cheapest cities. If your city isn’t one of them, read on.

Continue reading The World’s 10 Most Expensive & Cheapest Cities To Live

Who the Hell Is Terry Fox?

 

I have a small life lesson to share: Don’t ever ask “Who the hell is Terry Fox?” when you’re talking to a Canadian.

You can say “Hmmm, it’s interesting you bring up Terry Fox, tell me more?” or say “I’m eager to learn more about Terry Fox.”

But please, trust me, you don’t want be snarky when asking about this Canadian legend.

Continue reading Who the Hell Is Terry Fox?

45 Life Lessons, Written By a 90 Year Old

This has been posted on the Internets more times than my phone number on bathroom stall walls across the world. But, like in both cases, why not post again, hoping for more action?

  1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.
  2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
  3. Life is too short not to enjoy it.
  4. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and family will.
  5. Don’t buy stuff you don’t need. Continue reading 45 Life Lessons, Written By a 90 Year Old