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Socialising in Australia and the impact of individualism during a relocation

Moving country is hard work.  You suddenly have to explain yourself; nobody knows your history and they don’t know if they can trust you. Are you loyal? Honest? Hard-working?  You have to start from scratch to prove your worth.

If you don’t connect with others well, it could impact your integration. At Personnel Relocations, we want you to make the right start. This article looks at how to communicate and connect with others so you can integrate, network and make friends.

The thing is, modern communication may have gone backwards largely due to individualism. Oxford Dictionary defines individualism as

 “the idea that freedom of thought and action for each person is the most important quality of a society rather than shared effort and responsibility.”

Our society today has a lack of commitment and community. It is eroded; some call it superficial.  People are not committing too much for the long haul anymore. Partners, jobs and even countries. Individualism produces people obsessed with their identity as a brand. As we move more towards photo and video communications, we are becoming even vainer.

Even conversations online seem to have gone backwards

Look at your latest conversations, for example. 

How many of them are just becoming emojis, animoji or a memoji?

Are we losing our words and starting to talk with only pictures and Gifs?

How does this help the new arrival to integrate and build a network in Australia?

Humans are herd animals; we like to be in a community.  We need to feel love and support. This mat is pulled from under you when you move across the world. It can be quite unexpected to most, especially those who think they are immune to “Culture shock”. You are not. We are wired to connect, socialise, feel wanted and be helpful.  If we don’t stimulate this need, the consequences can seep in, depression, anxiety and a sense of loneliness.

Both face-to-face and digital socialising can help or hinder your relocation. I hope you take some time to consider both and use them to your advantage. Community is so important, whether online or offline, so let it be effective; most of all, please let it be positive.

Your home language is not to blame

Many people might blame their lack of integration on their language. I fully understand how living in a country where you don’t speak the language feels.  Remember I lived in France, and they are passionate about preserving the French language – my Franngolish was often an insult to their heritage.  I felt self-aware and very uncomfortable trying to speak French. 

But, just because Australia is mostly English, to fully integrate, it does not mean you must now only integrate with fellow Australians or those with your mother tongue.  No, go and also meet other Non-English speakers.  Find the Spanish or Italians in the room – they are in the same boat as you.  More often than not, this shared awkwardness makes for a good “shared” laugh and you bond over the craziness of it all.

Digital socialising - how big is your lens?

How open are you to receiving and sorting through your online information?

Do you trust the sources?

Do you know what to ask even to receive the right information?

Digital socialising has no distance boundaries; we can connect across the globe. Today movers are much more tech-savvy and hungry to learn – the quicker, the better. But is what they are reading correct? Or is it whimsical and without fact?  

Let’s not forget how artificial intelligence is monitoring our digital footprint and feeding us what it thinks we want to see or read; it can limit our exposure to new ideas; it is rather feeding us more information about what we don’t know to ask Google.

Digital socialising is almost always about the other person’s opinion

We can use the internet or social media to ask questions right down to the quality of coffee at a café across the globe. But can we trust that person’s opinion? How many coffees do they drink and which bean do they prefer? Do they have a sweet tooth?

Online connections can be vast but are always the opinion of someone you might not really know or respect; they are random in just about every way. 

I quite liked the quote I saw recently:

Social Media is an echo chamber to reinforce people’s opinions and knee-jerk responses without much feeling or thought.

Individualism can create silos

Digital socialising on a professional level is imperative pre-arrival. I have spoken in the past about migrant silos, and it is very relevant here. Some people only like to network within their own culture.  Let me explain it this way.  You arrive in Australia, and a fellow countryman is renting you a room for a while. You are an engineer, and he is an accountant.  He is well placed to give you sound financial advice but can he help you understand the work environment of engineers working on a rail project – probably not. Use your fellow countryman’s advice where it is best placed and reach out to those in your profession for work advice.

Find commonality within the area you need advice on.  Your fellow countryman is great at updating you on the latest from back home or a new recipe idea.  Your fellow professionals can help you with job market advice, upskilling, or job openings – you have a common link with them in your profession, so ask the right questions to the right people to get the right advice.

It might not feel as easy as asking a roommate, but you will get more sound advice.  Use Linkedin effectively to find people in your industry, ask them to connect and go from there.  Don’t be shy to say “I am new in Australia ”, it is a normal human emotion to want to help others, so speak up.  

In Patti McCarthy’s book, Cultural Chemistry: Simple Strategies for Bridging Cultural Gaps,  she talks about “kissing a lot of frogs before you find your Prince” this is true with networking.  Six Pixels of Separation: Everyone Is Connected. Connect Your Business to Everyone talks about how we are only six people away from a good connection – keep at it, keep connecting. 

My advice when building a community or network in Australia

  • Connection with others does not have to be BIG or impactful – calm and meaningful is just as good.. Don’t put that pressure on yourself or others.  
  • Don’t try to latch onto just one person and drum all your questions into them – spread the load, and be sensitive to people’s time. 
  • Big egos or arrogance, won’t get you far in Australia.  Have you heard of “Tall Poppy Syndrome”? It is alive and well in Australian culture.

Whether you are connecting and communicating online or face to face, keep it simple but be very authentic.  Australians are very welcoming, helpful and have a great sense of mateship, so don’t be shy to ask for help or questions. In their own words “no one likes a smart arse”.  

Community is important, and I encourage you to find multiple communities.  A family community where you can enjoy each other’s company and relax on the weekends – call on each other in a time of need.  The business community – Australians socialise within this community too, join in.  I always encourage hobbies; this too will be another community.  Communities are that trusted space where you can dive deep into solving problems and having meaningful conversations.

Build your own communities be they digital or social; they are each important in their own way.

Personnel Relocations simplifies the process of relocation to make it comfortable and hassle-free at an affordable price. With excellent care and the right guidance, Personnel Relocations can help your employees make the right start in Australia.

We understand that every relocation is different and each one has different goals. To contribute to your employees’ settling in Australia, we have alliances with experts such as relocation mentors, life coaches, cross-culture trainers, baby equipment hire, business communication specialists, local and international furniture removals, interior designers, decluttering, unpacking and setting up trades services who can help with specific needs.

It is not unusual for Personnel Relocations to handle the full suite of relocation needs, all from just one call.

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