When considering an individual’s potential in the workplace, it is often the default to focus on hard skills, competencies and qualifications that enable him/her to perform their current or future job role. But it is also important to consider soft skills that will position that person to succeed.
Development of cross-cultural competence is an area that can have a significant impact on performance improvement. The ability to interact effectively in a diverse, multicultural environment with people from different backgrounds is fast becoming a requirement for workplace success. Once only considered important for expatriates, the ability to interact effectively with colleagues, direct reports, managers, clients and other actors is no longer discretionary. The first step to improving cross-cultural competence is understanding our own feelings and point-of-view. How well do we work with people from different cultural backgrounds, with different perspectives? What do we know about non-verbal cues? How willing are we to try connecting emotionally with people who may have different values, practice different cultural norms? Awareness of our own challenges in these areas is the starting point for identifying opportunities for development
Participation in cross-cultural learning experiences enables individual employees to gain an understanding of different thinking, work styles and values, and the impact these variables have on performance. By better understanding contrasts and comparisons of different styles, individuals can better identify their own strengths and challenge areas, with a view toward taking steps to work more effectively in a variety of environments, across vast spectrums.
Expanding one’s understanding of cultural differences can create awareness about how a person may be perceived by others, and how he/she views others based on the interactions they have. This provides the opportunity for behaviors and communication styles to be modified to improve individual and team interaction. The ability to be less committed to your own way of thinking and point of view creates a gateway to work with others toward a middle ground.
Fostering an environment of cross-cultural tolerance, encouraging curiosity and understanding of others can create a more inclusive and supportive organizational culture.
There are many unique and creative ways to encourage cross-cultural curiosity and provide constructive opportunities for employees to learn more about themselves and others. If you would like to know more about designing a program to meet your organization’s needs to enhance cross-cultural awareness, please get in touch. We would love to talk with you!
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