In the previous postings we covered Tip 1: Really Listen, Tip 2: Pay Attention, Tip 3: Leave your Assumptions at Home, and Tip 4: Judgments are not Allowed. Today we are going to discuss Cross-Cultural Intelligence Tip 5: Be Curious.
Learning about another culture requires a special brand of curiosity. Yet unfortunately in our era of information overload and time deficit, we have forgotten how to be curious. We rarely go beyond the headlines and bite-size pieces of information — even within our own culture. Time has become so precious a commodity that spending it to learn about someone or something has become a luxury or has been delegated a “back-burner position”.
Yet people of all cultures love and appreciate being asked. Our authentic curiosity shows them that we are interested and that we care about their country, their traditions, and their culture. Our curiosity builds bridges, creates mutual learning, and develops life-long friendships. When people realize that we care about, respect, and value their culture, they automatically open to us. Trust, cooperation, and mutual benefit are not far behind that.
So, what is that special brand of curiosity? How is it different from just curiosity? For me this special brand of curiosity means curiosity with patience. It’s about being curious with all the elements of being a toddler, who wants to explore the ins and outs of the world, but with an added element of being truly patient. Toddlers often get frustrated when they don’t “get” something quickly. We don’t have that luxury because when we get frustrated, we stop being curious and we no longer learn. We judge.
Different cultures are very complex and it takes time to really learn about them. And that’s why this special brand of curiosity – curiosity with patience – is so important.
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