Adapting While Staying True to You

I've had quite a bit of new experiences in life, so I've had to learn to master adaptation. The first big change I had was my parents' divorce. Then, I had to adapt again when I chose to leave my all Black high school and go to a predominantly white institution for college. Fast forward through a few more adaptations, and I've learned how to manage people from a different culture while adjusting to a management team that is far from the culture I've been apart of all my life.

It's no doubt that adaptation isn't something we all have to learn if we want to stay current and relevant in the business world. So how do you adapt while staying true to who it is you are?

Let's begin with what you don't do, and that's deciding not to deal with the change at hand. If you pretend that the change doesn't happen, you miss the opportunity of being able to adjust to the change around you. It's like pretending to not be in a fight, acting like it's not happening won't stop you from getting hit in the face. Therefore, you must recognize opportunities to adapt and master them.

One of my favorite adaptation techniques is learning to speak to someone in their language. It's as simple as finding words they use that mean the same exact thing as common words you use. This is known to most as code switching, but intonation shouldn't need to change along with vocabulary. Embrace your natural accents within new vocabulary so that you preserve some piece of yourself in that environment.

It's simple - compromise. In any healthy relationship you're going to have some give and take. You won't be able to do what it is you want to do all the time. Sometimes, you have to do what they want to do. I encourage you to find the balance between their desires and yours. Never be a doormat, and always be empathetic and understanding to your environment.

Another one of my favorite techniques is sharing a piece of you. Sometimes, people just don't know what you like. Show them what you enjoy by introducing your favorite music, shows, and movies. You're bound to find that they also enjoy some of the same things.

Most importantly, have an open mind. You may be the first face of your demographic that they come into contact with. Sometimes that can be an extremely heavy burden to carry but if you approach it with an attitude of learning, you will be able to expand your horizons and become stronger in the process.

Happy adapting - and I look forward to seeing how dynamic you become.

Gabriella Payne is an international motivational speaker, confidence expert, and team building consultant. She works tirelessly to build confidence in girls and women by transforming their mental thought patterns and teaching new, healthier habits. She is also an advocate for the prevention of domestic abuse and teaches a series called "See It Coming".

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