3 Simple and effective ways to become Culturally Smart!

Development of cross-cultural competencies is pointless if not used for specific reasons. Nothing new, that’s a truth applicable in anything we learn! Times when we spent hours at school learning theories we couldn’t relate to any practical aspects of our life are gone! Adult learning theory states (which is nothing new either) that adults like learning things that are practical and relevant to their experiences. Development of cross-cultural competencies is extremely practical and relevant simply because of the specifics and demands of the world we live in.

Cross-cultural competencies have an enormous impact on our ability to:

  • Lead international teams;
  • Work in international environments;
  • Communicate across cultures;
  • Provide excellent customer service.

These are just a few benefits of enhancing the ability to function effectively in various cultural contexts, more than enough to convince you to invest into it. All developmental efforts must be aligned with actual needs, either focussed on the most challenging areas, or the ones that are crucial for your role, function, position.

Cultural intelligence can be measured so that you will identify your developmental area, may that be:

  • Your drive for intercultural interactions; 
  • Knowledge of a specific culture;
  • Ability to strategize your behaviours; 
  • Your actual knowledge and strategy put into action.

That way you won’t waste your efforts and blindly try to develop skills you either already have or may not need at all! Following the assessment of the level of your cultural intelligence you can benefit from various developmental tools to increase your cross-cultural effectiveness. Here they are! 3 simple ways to become culturally smart:

  • Training

The best way to start is to get introduced to the CQ (cultural intelligence) model and understand how it can be used to your advantage. By learning about CQ you will be able to identify several ways of increasing CQ capabilities. One style does not fit all. You may want to decide by yourself what will work best for you. Training can also be a great way to increase CQ Knowledge capability. May you be going to another country, working with colleagues from a specific culture or expect a new business partner, supplier, client from abroad. Get ready. You won’t be able to get to know the entire culture, however, by learning the most significant facts you will boost your confidence and will be able to react comfortably and effectively. Group interactions in training are extremely useful to share ideas, experiences, challenge each other and benefit from such environment. As we said earlier, training should not be separated from your reality, may there be leadership, teamwork, communication or customer service skills, CQ development must be aligned with your primary need.

  • 1-2-1 coaching

Cross-cultural coaching is a great follow up of what you learn in training. It is focussed on a more specific need, a problem and an individual. Such a personalised approach guarantees measurable benefits, most importantly your coaching goals achievement. It may increase the CQ drive to a great extent, and help you realise all benefits behind you working abroad and interculturally. Cross-cultural coaching is very helpful to clarify effective strategies for behaving, reacting, and dealing with cross-cultural situations. And most importantly coaching sessions move you forward towards correcting, optimising, and choosing the best actions which will make you achieve your goals in both life and work.  

  • Cross-cultural simulations

It’s high time to practise what you learn in training and coaching. A safe environment of cross-cultural simulations allows you to put into practise your knowledge and skills. Simulations help you experience cross-cultural awkward, surprising, and new situations. You will be able to test your understanding, reactions, and responses and correct them if needed. Simulations make you make many mistakes and learn from them, experience plenty of ‘a-ha’ moments, laugh at them, panic, become confused… Great! It is all allowed in such a fun, light, and safe environment! Such a practical approach makes you learn in the best and most effective way possible!

It’s that simple!

3 effective tools will definitely help you in becoming more satisfied and successful in cross-cultural situations. There are many other tools that can be used to develop cultural intelligence, improve global leadership skills, enhance your ability to communicate, work in international teams and serve your foreign customers in an excellent way! It all starts from acknowledging the differences, their impact on day-to-day life and work and benefits of increasing your ability to work well interculturally. As with everything else in life, it takes a bit of effort. However it’s worth it! 

Be culturally smart! Embrace global opportunity.