Developing Intercultural Competence in the Workplace: Five Key Components

#1: Open Your Mind:

Having an attitude that is receptive to intercultural learning is the prerequisite to all the other components of developing intercultural competence. An open attitude involves thinking about differences in an unguarded and constructive manner, being willing to challenge any assumptions you may have about other cultures, withholding judgment when encountering new cultural experiences, learning to tolerate ambiguity and complexity in cross-cultural situations, and being patient with others who may not share your cultural background.

#2: Know Yourself

In order to begin to truly understand other cultures, it is first necessary to develop self-awareness about how your own cultural preferences impact your behavior. This involves becoming more consciously aware of your cultural values, beliefs, and attitudes, and reflecting on how and why interacting with another culture might result in discomfort or misunderstanding. You must understand and acknowledge where you are coming from before you can begin to adapt your attitudes and expectations in ways that will support intercultural communication.

#3: Consider Others

To succeed in today’s global business world, it is important to recognize and acknowledge the cultural values, beliefs, and attitudes of others, and how those cultural preferences might impact their behavior during business and social encounters. It is only through examining and understanding differences that you can begin to discover common ground and build on areas of shared culture perception.

#4: Build Your Knowledge

Proactively learning about the social and business cultures of your global partners is an important step toward building trust, good will, and more effective intercultural communication. This may involve understanding how your partners from a particular business culture form relationships, evaluate performance, solve problems, resolve conflicts, negotiate deals, and provide leadership. To do this successfully, you must prioritize the training and resources necessary to build and maintain your knowledge base as new cultural situations and global partners emerge.

#5: Develop Your Skills

By combining open-mindedness, self-awareness, awareness of others, and cultural knowledge, you can develop the skills necessary to work more effectively with any global business culture. Being skilled at intercultural communication means having the ability to adapt your own business practices and management strategies in ways that are appropriate to particular cultures and situations. It also requires that you continually develop and refine your intercultural communication skills as new situations arise.

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