I’ve been living in a foreign country for some 15 years now, which means I apparently like it. Usually, when you live and work or study in a foreign country, you become more tolerant, more open, more relaxed about things and realize soon how much easier it makes your life to be tolerant, open and more relaxed. Some people however are foreign-experience-resistant, despite having the privilege of that experience.
During my job, I am often confronted with one or the other of those foreign-experience-resistant persons. Although living aborad for several years, they prove change-averse with neglegible to zero consideration for their surroundings, their own behavior and the subtle or not so subtle signs of the behavior of others.
They import all their values and habits. It does not matter to them where they live, they just plant themselves into this other society and cause heaps of horror.
I am German, so I naturally know a lot of German expats, but the same is true for some candidates from other countries.
The foreign-experience-resistant Germans are super direct, super rude, annoyingly loud and impatient, always talk, always complain, are notoriously unhappy and no matter what you do, they stay that way. They are completely oblivious to the fact that Japan is a high context culture and they themselves come from a low context culture, despite attending such seminars.
They just don’t get it that many things in Japan are done indirectly, that politeness is an inherent part of the culture, that patience is a virtue, that there are times when you should shut up, and that complaining is not considered „cool“.
I am just amazed at how blind these foreign-experience-resistant Germans are. They just don’t get it. They don’t see the slight or not so slight frowns of their Japanese colleagues, they cannot „read the air“. (reading the air, kuuki wo yomu, is an essential thing in Japan. You walk into a room and read the air = the mood everyone is in etc.)
I am also loud, I talk a lot and I’m direct etc. but if I wasn’t able to read the air, I would have left Japan in frustration a long time ago. I cannot help wondering how those elephants (or bulls) in a china shop, to use a German expression, manage to survive even three years on a foreign assingment here or anywhere else. Of course those people leave in frustration, because they didn’t manage to export their values to the foreign country, were not accepted here, and everybody is happy when they’re finally going home, oh what a surprise.
What do they do? Just a few examples: talking endlessly in meetings, unable to wait for ten seconds to give their Japanese colleages the opportunity to speak. Complaining about EVERYTHING, e.g. their (usually very favorable) working conditions, that they cannot get product XY instead of enjoying the ludicrous variety of products available here, the high prices (they earn more than any local), that people don’t respond to them the way they expect them to… the list is endless.
Of course living in Japan has ist downsides as everywhere else and sometimes some Japanese traits drive me nuts too, but I am driven way more nuts and up the wall by those change/learning/foreign-resistant blockheads and I have one big message for them: Stay at home and don’t bother us here with your unwanted presence….