The Stages of Cultural Adjustment
When moving from one "culture" to another, individuals pass through definite stages of cultural adjustment. This adjustment is an ongoing process as demanded by each new situation. The following discussion is based on a four-stage model as identified by Gregory Trifonovitch:
The Honeymoon Stage
When their misunderstandings mount up, they are likely to experience the second stage of cultural adjustment.
The Hostility Stage
This stage is characterized by frustration, anger, anxiety, and sometimes depression. Following the initial excitement is frustration with the bureaucracy. Sleep patterns may be disrupted and the individual may suffer from indigestion and be unable to eat. Sometimes these individuals react to this frustration by rejecting the new or predominant environment in which they feel discomfort. The internal reasoning might be, "If I feel bad it's because of them," thus blaming the external environment for the bad feelings. Some of these hostilities are translated into fits of anger over minor frustrations, excessive fear and worse, complete withdrawal.
Such individuals are in a difficult and painful stage. They can be difficult to work with and to work for. They, in particular, need your tolerance (they'll test it), your patience (they'll try it), and your willingness to work with them so that they can move on to the third stage of cultural adjustment.
For me, this stage lasted a good 12 months. It was stressful and depressing but the good part was that I threw myself tirelessly into my work to ignore my daily reality. As a result, we built a great platform to grow our fund management business in India in relatively short period of time. See these posts for some dark humor! Moving to India: The thrill is gone Moving to India: Reflections on my first year
The Humor Stage
This follows when the individual of another culture begins to relax in a new situation and begins to laugh at minor mistakes and misunderstandings which previously would have caused major headaches in the hostility stage. his more relaxed stage occurs after the individual who has made some friends is able to manage the size and complexity of the new environment, understands the work, and begins to experience successes. These individuals are generally easy to work with and for because they are relaxed, receptive, and open to direction.
The Home Stage
This occurs when the individual not only retains allegiance to his/her home culture, but also "feels at home" in his/her newly acquired one. This inidividual has successfully adjusted to the norms and standards of the new environment and should be commended for the ability to live successfully in two cultures.
Will send you a postcard when I get here!