I've learned a valuable lesson in my life and career about how to adapt to new people and surroundings. My main advice is: Stop. Observe the people and the norms. Find respect for what they do and how they do it. Give it your best.
These situational awareness lessons started early in my life. My father’s job meant my childhood was spent moving to different countries, as diverse as Switzerland and India. To constantly survive in new environments, I had to develop this approach to adapting and thriving in different cultures.
Earlier in my career, I was vice president of human resources at a US-based multinational, where I managed HR for countries as varied as Japan and the Netherlands. Again, I needed the same adaptability techniques, honed for a corporate environment.
Now I am at Accenture, where on a daily basis we deal with many countries and cultures and have to be very nimble in understanding cultural nuances. Fortunately, we are given the tools we need to understand cultural differences. I reinforce with my colleagues the importance of treating every culture with respect.