For those of us who travel and live in different countries on a regular basis, learning about our destinations is essential. What can I expect when I move? What will be different? What will I have to adjust to? What are the people like? How does their culture differ from mine?
These questions can go on and on. Some of us try to answer them by researching in libraries and on the internet; others go through cross-cultural training; and yet others tap into whatever expertise the online expatriate community can offer. All these sources are wonderful and they provide a wealth of information, however, they often form no more than just a base of the information required for us to become really knowledgeable about the culture, and particularly about the people we interact with.
The concept of cross-cultural intelligence goes beyond the laundry list of do’s and don’ts. And so Cross-Cultural Intelligence 101 is the collection of tips and tools that help decipher – wherever you are – what is important to people you interact with, what makes them who they are, and what you can do to strike friendships, make business alliances, and establish partnerships. Cross-Cultural Intelligence 101 takes a more individual approach to learning the culture. After all, we are not made out of the same mould even if we were born and grew up in the same country. In fact, all of us represent a multiplicity of cultures – a mix of ethnic, religious, corporate, socio-political, gender and many other layers of cultures.
I’ll be posting a tip per blog entry, so please come back here often or subscribe to the RSS feed to know when the next one is out. I will provide the tools of the Cross-Cultural Intelligence 101 in a free report that will soon be available through my website. I will let you know when either through Twitter or through this blog.
Cross-Cultural Intelligence 101: Tip 1 — REALLY LISTEN
When we are in conversation with someone, an individual or a group, we often find that our attention wanders. We may think of our lunch plans, we may be writing a to-do list in our heads, or we may be remembering a situation when whatever the speaker is talking about happened to us. By drifting in and out of “really listening” we lose vital information – and not only the information that the words convey but also the information that the speaker’s “energy” is giving us. This kind of listening, the kind when we hear but we don’t really listen, can be called internal listening for all that we are doing here is listening to ourselves. The external listening is the opposite of the internal listening. When you listen externally, your listen “between the lines”. Your entire attention is directed towards three things: (1) what’s being said, (2) how it’s being said, and (3) how it affects the overall energy around you and the speaker. You hear the speaker’s words; notice the speaker’s demeanor; and pay attention to the “energy” of the conversation. External listening helps us pick up the nuances of different behaviors and cultures much more so than the internal.
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