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Being culturally smart is the next big thing

I know, this headline might be provocative. But yes, this is my opinion. When I see many people in workplaces and/or in our society, it is a fact that we are diverse. Let's not fool ourselves with that.

Being culturally smart will be the key skill set of the future. It will be even more important to cross boundaries and prosper in multiple cultures - because the interconnectivity around the world will increase even more.

For me, cultural intelligence is connected to emotional intelligence - a key skill in today's society. Being culturally intelligenct is that, you are not only aware of other cultures, you are able to "culturally adapt" and effectively work and relate with people across cultures.

So if emotional intelligence can pick up emotions of others, people with high cultural intelligence are attuned to values, beliefs and styles of communication of people from other cultures.

They connect to others with empathy and understanding - even if the other culture is the complete opposite of their own.

The thing is, you can't measure cultural intelligence as you do it in an IQ test. That's why we need to put effort in learning & improving continuously. It's our personal skillset that needs to be updated regularly - just like your mobile phone in your pocket.

Let me give you an insight which four intercultural competencies are key:

  1. Skills

  2. Attitudes

  3. Culture

  4. Communication

We can learn the right skills to be culturally smart. E.g. it is important to have the skill to listen carefully, and think critically - if you hear prejudices about a culture.

We can work on our attitude of openness, respect & curiosity to get to know other cultures and gather knowledge about it.

We can gather knowledge about cultures; what do they believe in? What are their values? What is specific to my culture, but different in others? Can we find commonalities without assimilating cultures?

We can be great intercultural communicators, if we adapt to the language of our counterparts & if we are aware on our non-verbal behaviour. It is the way of our dialogue and how we create it. We can decide if our communication unites or divides us.

Also, here is a tool that can help us to have a basic understanding of specific cultures:

You can type in the country / region you need infos for - and consume the knowledge you need. Great preparation for traveling to countries and/or having business trips!

Now you have a great overview of the four components of intercultural competencies.

Which path are you choosing now?

All the best, Moni

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