Expat partner Jutta Scheidner has lived in multiple Asian cities and relocated several times but she still found intercultural coaching extremely beneficial when returning to Singapore for the second time.
“When we relocated from Shanghai to Singapore, where we lived 15 years ago, I attended a one-day intercultural training workshop. It gave me an overview of the political and cultural landscape but I wanted to dig deeper, so I opted to receive intercultural coaching. My Global Connection consultant Aurélie Colle selected Annika Harloff as my coach and I couldn’t have been happier with the outcome,” says Jutta, also a former resident of Hong Kong.
A great match
“Annika used to live in Singapore for many years. Like me, she’s also German. From the beginning, she understood where I came from and what I was experiencing. It was such a great match,” says Jutta. “When entering a new culture, it’s easy to feel unsure of yourself. Sometimes you might look back and overthink situations where you felt like you were misunderstood. Speaking to Annika was extremely reassuring. She listened to my concerns and told me I was doing a good job interacting with the local culture. Then she would suggest how I might go from doing a good job to a great one…”
“For example, when I get on the bus, I like to greet the captain (which is what they call the driver in Singapore). From my perspective, this is a way to acknowledge him and show appreciation for his work. But locals don’t do that. I wondered if I should stop. Annika reassured me that greeting someone was a good thing to do. She then gave me some guidance on how I could do it better! If I made less eye contact, and extended more physical distance, it would be less intimidating.”
Strike a balance
“In a culture that’s very different to yours, it’s easy to feel like you’re misunderstood when interacting with locals. I wanted to enhance my understanding of the local culture, so I don’t tread on anyone’s toes, but I also want to keep being myself! Thanks to the sessions with Annika, I can see it’s possible to strike that balance. I now feel more relaxed when interacting with the local culture. It’s really made a huge difference to my life in Singapore, and I am very thankful.”
Photo: Jutta Scheidner (second from right)