Essential Skills for Expats 2: Flexibility & Patience

Developing flexibility and patience are essential qualities you'll need to enjoy your life in Mexico

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For a variety of reasons, which include bureaucracy, ceremony, and cultural habit, some situations which develop in Mexico could appear quite frustrating to unwary foreigners.

Sometimes it’s because one is “used to” things, especially supposedly simple things, happening differently (usually more quickly) than they might do here in Mexico. Sometimes, the lack of something you really need or would very much like within a certain time frame can lead to frustration, inconvenience—or even loss.

If you plan to live in Mexico, you’ll need to develop a certain degree of flexibility and exercise a generous helping of patience with yourself and with others; not just from time to time, but as a matter of course. If you don’t have a naturally flexible character and cannot come to find the patience in yourself, you might find Mexico to be a very challenging place to live.

Many foreigners who have settled in Mexico and now make this country their home share stories about how they moved away from stressful lifestyles to find a more agreeable rhythm in Mexico. They tell how the process is almost cathartic, but only as and when they accepted how Mexico is and let go of once habitual demands which appeared to plague their thoughts. This transformation is narrated quite well in Tony Cohan’s popular book On Mexican Time.

Foreigners who come to live in Mexico and cannot find peace with how things are here usually begin to display impatience, frustration, and anger which can sometimes even lead to lack of general respect in formal or informal situations. Inevitably, these frustrations fall on “deaf ears” when dealing with most people. Moreover, although Mexicans may not outwardly react to antagonistic behavior, the ultimate outcome in a situation could be made worse for the person exhibiting a low mood, through deliberate obstruction—or perhaps total rejection—of his or her wishes: not because it is impossible to fulfill them, but as a response to what is deemed impoliteness.

Remaining calm, allowing matters to take a natural course, being flexible with your plans and expectations, and exercising patience are noble pursuits anywhere you live, and in Mexico they are particularly helpful in everyday situations.

Being a foreigner in a foreign land means playing by your host’s rules. Given that there exists an estimated one million foreigners living in Mexico full or part-time suggests that the rules are not that difficult to adopt, and may indeed harbor some inner value.

Next: Part 3 – Negotiation & Bargaining

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1 Comment

  1. My husband and I built our home on Isla Mujeres 2 years ago and continue to add on or make changes. We both have or had Type A personalities. We adjust daily to the way things are done here. We are getting better at it. The reason we moved here was the culture and the people. We just had to learn that manana doesn’t always mean tomorrow.

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