As companies expand globally, clear and respectful communication among colleagues and with partners and clients from diverse cultures becomes critical.
Because of geographic separateness, a history of isolationism, and an espousal of neutrality, many managers may have limited preparation to handle the complexities of other cultures, and thus fail to recognize that persons of other cultural backgrounds have different goals, customs, thought patterns, and values.
Conducting business across cultures is infinitely more complex than partnering with domestic colleagues and clients. Although the fundamental principles are the same, communication takes on new, all-important dimensions. Traditionally, academic preparation for a career in international business has emphasized the technical elements at the expense of “people” skills — the behavioral and communication aspects. Recent research has underlined the importance of “EQ” — emotional intelligence — to success in business. Equally important in a global environment is Cultural Agility — an individual’s ability to function effectively in situations of cultural diversity.
Ultimately, you are only as effective as your ability to communicate what you know. The manager with poor EQ and inadequate cultural agility skills will communicate poorly what he or she knows. The excellent communicator with solid EQ and cultural agility skills, by contrast, will convey what he or she knows clearly, fully, powerfully, and persuasively. Developing CQ targets sensitive cross-cultural communication as a vehicle to develop successful relationships with partners, colleagues, and staff from other cultures.
Cultural Agility is an individual’s ability to function effectively in situations of cultural diversity. Factors that contribute to Cultural Agility include the head (knowledge, cognition), the heart (motivation, emotion), and the body (movement, spatial and kinesthetic behavior).
To address client-specific needs, the workshop provides detailed information on the cultures with which company staff will interact.
I have developed several delivery options to address client needs. Developing CQ can be delivered as a 1-2 hour overview, as a half-day seminar, or as a full-day workshop. The content presented is consistent throughout all 3 formats; the difference is the amount of time given to interactive discussion and participant exercises.
To address the head and increase knowledge, the workshop covers the following topics:
- Culture: surface and deep characteristics
- How culture shapes beliefs, values, behaviors:
- Concept of self: individual or collective?
- Power: hierarchical or democratic?
- Control over nature & environment: doing or being?
- Business framework: relationship or transaction?
- Knowledge acquisition & problem solving: analytical or holistic?
- Time: linear, flexible, or cyclical?
- Tolerance for change: focus on past present or future
- Leveraging “deep” culture issues that dominate business decisions
- Communicating cultural knowledge and sensitivity: appropriate use of language, listening, distance, eye contact, gestures, social behaviors
- Examining individual patterns of communication and assessing their effectiveness in initiating and developing successful partnering relationships with clients and staff.
To address the heart (motivation) and the body (movement), the workshop includes:
- Assessment tools (personal inventory/cultural awareness) to promote awareness & self-knowledge
- Stories, role plays, and case studies to develop wonder/curiosity and allow participants to see the world through another’s eyes
- Mirroring exercises to refine linguistic, spatial & interpersonal/social intelligence.