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After Moving To Chennai To Work As A Business Analyst, I Have Been Facing Problems At Work. Most People Communicate In Local Language In Office And I Fail To Connect. While My Work Doesn’t Suffer, My Social Life Has Suffered. What Should I Do?

I have been born and brought up in Delhi. Have worked there for the last 8 years. I am well versed with English and that helps me do my job well. But on a personal level, I feel out of place. I am not used to my colleagues treating me differently. I need to connect with them more. How do I do that?

Manish Puri, Business Consultant & Coach

I have worked in Chennai for over 6 years and I am a North Indian from Delhi myself and so I understand what you are saying completely. I believe that understanding your surroundings is the best way to learn how to cope & thrive in them and so, here’s what I would like you to know about/do in the place:

1. It’s a cosmopolitan city and highly safe & literate. Yes, people love their local language just like we love our local language, nothing wrong with that. Please communicate back in English and in fact see if you can pick up the basics of their language.
2. The locals there are culturally very strong and are different from people in the North. Take your time to know them and remember that they will take their time to trust you.
3. Socially, try and join groups like The Toastmasters as there you will find people of your liking though they all will have a natural preference to their local language.
4. In order to establish stronger connection with them, invite them over to your place and extend your hospitality & culture to them so that you are able to initiate the making of a strong relationship. Once you initiate this, it will most certainly be reciprocated.
5. Once you have called them over to your place, find people of common interest in the group & try to do outdoor stuff with folks you find common areas with, eg: playing a game or sport, movies, books (can create a book club and read together), family outings, food related get togethers...
Once you break the ice, things will start to look up. Cheers!

Arpita Kuila, Senior HR Leader

Give it time. Be yourself. Be open, friendly, show an interest in your new colleagues, try to learn about the local culture and you might find it fascinating. We are a vast country with a rich cultural heritage and getting an opportunity to learn about another culture is an enriching experience. Some times you will connect fast with colleagues in a new organisation and it can also take time. This will also vary. When there are team activities, initiatives or employee engagement activities at work, do participate in them. This is an easy ice-breaker and will give you a chance to slowly get to know others well and give them a chance to know you. Be patient. In time friendships and connections will develop.