Whether you like it or not, multiculturalism is a reality in this era of global commerce. Your cousin, who sells computer keyboards might have a manufacturing unit based in China. Your friend, who works for a large financial conglomerate may be managing junior executives situated in seven countries across three continents. Your sister could get a job tomorrow that requires her to share an office with three others who have unfamiliar native languages. And since you are on this page, it is quite likely that you already manage a team of culturally diverse individuals. If not, you will perhaps soon do so.
It does not matter whether you're based in Sydney, Hong Kong or Vancouver.
It does not matter whether you own a business, work as a junior salesman or have recently been appointed the CEO of a multinational company.
In today's professional environment, cultural intelligence is essential for professional success.
For those exposed to an unfamiliar culture for the first time, culture shock can be devastating. This is because, many of us cannot accept that a community is living in a manner that is completely different from our own. Cultural intelligence prepares us to deal with cultural difference, no matter how unexpected.
We are ethnocentric when we tend to think that our own way of doing things is superior than others. Lack of cultural intelligence increases our predisposition to be ethnocentric. Without cultural intelligence, we lack the ability to understand cultural difference objectively without making judgments regarding the superiority of one culture over another.
While acquiring cultural intelligence, we are exposed to various cultural norms or culturally sanctioned ways of doing things. This helps us understand cultural norms when we interact with an unfamiliar cuture.
An important aspect of cultural intelligence is information about how various cultural groups communicate. The communication styles of cultural groups, that is. So, we are better able to identify communication styles as we gain cultural intelligence.
Lack of team identity is an existential crisis. As a manager, we often struggle to develop a strong team identity because we fail to grasp the cultural dynamics within the group. We are better equipped to develop team identity when we possess cultural intelligence.
I will never work with a culturally diverse group!
You may not have been exposed to a culturally diverse setting yet, but that is likely to change. Cultural diversity is on the rise, so workplaces will increasingly comprise people from multiple cultural backgrounds.
We're all the same, why worry about cultural difference?
Cultural differences influence our attitudes and behaviour, even if it is not evident on the surface. It might seem that we are the same, but cultural differences cannot be disregarded.
I hate cultural diversity!
If you disike cultural diversity, it is even more important to acquire cultural intelligence. This will help you successfully operate amidst cultural differences, although this may not be to your liking.
How do I make time to build cultural intelligence?
To gain cultural intelligence, all it takes is about 15 minutes of reading a day. This could be about a particular cultural group. It also helps to oberve people from various cultural backgrounds. This does not take extra time if done within regular activities.
If you make the investment in building cultural intelligence, you will not regret it. Start by downloading a list of 5 questions that can be used to understand any culture. Thereafter, you will receive information on cultural trends from around the world, case studies on intercultural business communication and tips about team building in a multicultural workplace.
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