Expat Tips to Communicate Confidently (With Anyone!)
Updated: Mar 20, 2019
Communication! It is definitely one of the biggest challenges when you live abroad...and also one of the greatest rewards is being able to meet people from all over the world.
But what if you are feeling nervous or anxious about communicating? You might be afraid people will misunderstand you or not understand you at all.
I lived in Shanghai for 4 years and now in Thailand for almost 2 years. I don't speak either language that well, and can't read or write more than a couple characters, but that hasn't stopped me from attempting to communicate with people.
It took awhile for me to embrace this, so I'm going to share with you my tactics for communicating confidently with anyone!
1. Get your mind right
If you are thinking thoughts that make you feel nervous or uncertain, like "this is so awkward" and "nobody will understand me," you won't go into situations feeling strong.
I like to practice thoughts that make me feel confident, like:
I always try my best to communicate
I don't take it personally if someone doesn't understand me
I love meeting people from all over the world
I embrace the challenge of communicating with people who don't speak the same language as me
I'm grateful to live in _____ and experience this new language and culture
2. Do your best
This might go without saying, but I still think it is important.
You can first try communicating verbally (a few times), but if that doesn't work don't get flustered. Whip out your phone and Google translate to the rescue! Most people will be patient and will appreciate the effort you make.
3. Listen well
"Everyone smiles in the same language” — George Carlin
Pay attention to body language, facial expressions, and mood. I think most expats would agree that your perception and ability to read people gets much better living abroad, especially as you learn more about cultural norms in your new country.
When you get good at really listening, people notice. And they tend to listen better to you too!
4. Have fun and let it go
My husband is actually the one who showed me how important this is. He is lighthearted, using gestures and laughter and silliness when he tries to communicate. People LOVE him, even if they can't understand him.
He has fun, he brightens people's days, and if he still can't communicate he moves right on with his day and doesn't give it another thought.
Letting go is so important, and when you know you've done your best it's easy.
5. Embrace lifelong learning
Embrace the idea of being a lifelong learner. You can take a class, find a tutor, or join a group of people who also want to practice new language skills or just communicating in general.
I love using the language learning app Duolingo - it's fun and only takes a few minutes per day to expand your vocabulary and language skills. (Did you see my blog post on the best apps for expats? Check it out here!)
Working with me can help
To learn more about how you can create more confidence and get the results you want in your life, book a free discovery session with me. We will work together to get clear about what you really want, determine what is holding you back, and identify powerful actions you can take to create your best life abroad. Book here: https://calendly.com/jenknight/free-session
Hi, I'm Jen! I am a US expat currently living in Thailand with my wonderful husband.
I always strive to learn, grow, and be the best version of myself, and I'm so grateful I get to spend my days working with amazing expat women like you:
Women who are smart and want to reach their goals, but need help overcoming obstacles so they can create their best lives abroad.