Cross-Cultural Intelligence 101: Tip 6 – Look for values

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.

In previous posts we covered the first five (5) tips of the Cross-Cultural Intelligence 101. Those five tips are very important to be able to take advantage of this sixth tip. So if you didn’t have the chance to read about them, I’d encourage you to do so now – before you read about this last one. Here are the links to the first five tips:

Tip 1: Really Listen

Tip 2: Pay Attention

Tip 3: Leave your Assumptions at Home

Tip 4: Judgments are not Allowed

Tip 5: Be Curious.

And now on to the last tip, Tip 6: Look for values.

Values are what we honor and cherish in our lives. A value is an individual concept and, even though it’s often affected by the many cultures and traditions we belong to, our own personal values are different from those of our neighbors, friends, or our co-workers. Our values drive our energies and direct our actions.

Therefore, learning to read and identify the values of others is an important tool to connecting with what drives them – and with who they are. But how do you read another person’s values? As you listen, pay attention, use curiosity with patience, and leave your assumptions and judgments out, you will be able to “hear” the “energy” behind somebody’s words. If your new acquaintance, for instance, is talking about her recent trip into the rain forest and you see the eyes sparkle, chances are that adventure is one of her values. If your friend is complaining about a rude treatment he received in a store, it might be his value of respect that got stepped on. If your co-worker shines when she gets praised for the good job that she does, one of her values might be recognition or acknowledgement. When you start living within another culture, knowing what’s important to your neighbors and helping them honor those things will make you new friends and prevent conflicts.

The Cultural Intelligence process is based on a premise that to succeed in the foreign-to-us culture we need to learn, appreciate, and honor cultural differences. The tips we discussed break the process into five easy-to-adopt steps and help make it part of your every day routine.

Copyright © 2009 by Global Coach Center.

If you’d like to reprint this, please do so but make sure you credit us!

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