Words of Advice from the Expat Whisperer

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Words of Advice from the Expat Whisperer
Lisa Finan has built a career in several countries helping people expatriated to Europe. She calls herself an expat whisperer, pinpointing the distress and confusion of professionals who are hyper-competent in their homelands, but at wit’s end abroad, then helping them to adapt and even thrive in their new environment. Nowadays, with the coronavirus and also weird weather and political upheaval, being an expat has never been so fraught. So what is an “expat whisperer”? “An ‘expat whisperer’ is the personal brand term I coined as an expat career and life coach. I added life because when people come to me, it’s not only about ‘the job’. More often than not, it’s about yourself and your life. Who you are, your identity, and what you will become after the job relocation. These factors are inextricably intertwined.” Photo © Lisa La Valle-Finan Finan is a trained intercultural adaptation coach, but an expat whisperer must also have a feel for people, a “sixth sense” for cultural insight. She says that she’s very adept at communicating with people in general, picking up on both verbal and nonverbal cues. “To effectively communicate with an expat, you need to understand the expat mind-set, or what I call the ‘3 R’s’ 1) How they reason (think) 2) how they relate (communicate) 3 how they regulate (behave).” As I myself can attest, being a long-time French resident, expats operate in a hybrid mentality, often feeling neither “here nor there”. They know they’ve made one of the best decisions of their lives, to advance their career, by moving it around the world, but it comes at a price. Sometimes that price, despite all their effort, competency, and fearlessness, is isolation and uncertainty. This where Finan’s unique experience comes in. Photo © Sergey Zolkin, Unsplash “I’ve found that there are many elements that need to come together to give my clients a rich and useful coaching experience. First is my upbringing, because I was raised by Italians in the United States, so I understand that there are other ways of seeing. Second, I’ve also lived in several countries, including France, Greece, the UK, and Spain, and among many different kinds of people in those places.” This helps her to explain to others “how the world works”. She can also help them make sense of their world, empathizing with them, through what she calls a “reflexive socio-cultural lens”. Reflexive empathy is at the root of transformational coaching, which enables Finan to build trust very quickly. “Because we have limited time, I must be able to do that. Then I can ‘see’ who my client is, and ‘read the air’ as a Japanese expression says. To become very intimate with my clients allows me to ‘see’ if they are being authentic, speaking with truth and self-awareness about themselves, and their history, in the context of their career, because only then can we get on the right path to their career goals.” Photo © Lilibeth Bustos Linares, Unsplash
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Lead photo credit : Photo © Gabrielle Clare, Unsplash

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Dimitri Keramitas was born and raised in Connecticut, USA, and was educated at the University of Hartford, Sorbonne, and the University of London, and holds degrees in literature and law. He has lived in Paris for years, and directs a training company and translation agency. In addition, he has worked as a film critic for both print and on-line publications, including Bonjour Paris and France Today. He is a contributing editor to Movies in American History. In addition he is an award-winning writer of fiction, whose stories have been published in many literary journals. He is the director of the creative writing program at WICE, a Paris-based organization. He is also a director at the Paris Alumni Network, an organization linking together several hundred professionals, and is the editor of its newletter. The father of two children, Dimitri not only enjoys Paris living but returning to the US regularly and traveling in Europe and elsewhere.

Comments

  • John Longino
    2020-10-02 10:45:30
    John Longino
    My wife and I have been told that applications for a long-stay visa are not being accepted now for US citizens wishing to relocate to France and I have heard that they are routinely denied for people over 70. I am a business layer/entrepreneur who will be 70 in August so I am concerned if the application process is halted much longer. My wife is 60 so that is no concern to her. I have taken 32 vacations to France in my life - from a week to 2 months. We surely hope the process happens quickly. 3 of our 7 children already have EU citizenship, another lives in Amsterdam, and one in Canada. Wherever we live will be a long way from our kids.

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