Working with colleagues from diverse cultural backgrounds can bring unique perspectives and communication challenges. Active listening is crucial in overcoming these obstacles. Here are eight techniques for improving active listening.
Cultivating Cultural Agility
When a furniture manufacturer complies with drastic safety regulations in some countries and not others, the offense felt by the seconds immediately and lastingly damages the company’s image.
When this same brand sets up its stores in new countries, it now knows how to adapt its furniture and kitchen utensils to the host country’s customs. Cultural Intelligence provides essential knowledge to marketers to avoid hurting a national honor, to a manager newly appointed in a new country to seem indifferent and arrogant when he thinks he is leaving autonomy to his teams, or even to diplomats to interpret the cryptic or straightforward communication from their counterparts.
However, the permacrisis into which we have entered on the same level as the COVID pandemic is revisiting at an unequaled speed socio-cultural knowledge such as geopolitical balances and professional conversations such as family exchanges.
Even within our societies and organizations, conversations ignite as soon as “well-being,” diversity,” end of the month,” and “end of the world” are called up.
This is how Cultural Agility makes the contributions of Cultural Intelligence it’s own and enriches them with those of the psychology of emotions and the social sciences. Faced with the permacrisis and the complexity of intercultural relations, Cultural Agility strengthens the flexibility and resilience dear to the reed of the fable.
Here are six techniques for cultivating Cultural Agility in a changing and complex context.
Identify and align with your values
- provide clarity and give meaning to our actions in a changing context
- more easily perceive and respect the values of others
- adjust communication to others’ values
- refocus on your values when difficulties pile up
- sustainably cultivate your well-being
- Ask yourself this question: “What truly matters to me?”
- Check regularly that your actions and thoughts align with your values.
- Have a coach accompany you!
Consider the impact one has on others
- identify blind spots: what you do not see about yourself
- build stronger relationships, including with people or groups you find “difficult”
- take other points of view into account
- avoid some misunderstandings
- develop collaborative skills
- Ask for feedback, listen to it all the way, breathe, ask yourself what you have learned, and, if necessary, how to adapt your communication.
- Observe the non-verbal cues of your interlocutors: sighs, looks, smiles, and nods. Ask yourself how you can adapt your communication to make these signals positive and allow you to achieve your goal.
- Record yourself in action!
Learn and be curious
- fill in our inevitable gaps
- reinforce our incomparable qualities
- build relationships of trust with people different from us
- facilitate mutual understanding
- multiply our options when they seem to be limited
- Ask open-ended questions and listen carefully to the answers.
- Learn a new language or develop your reading skills in a language you already know enough to read classics of literature from one of the countries in which the language is spoken.
- Write down the three most important pieces of information, attitudes, or habits that you learned every week, every month, and every year.
- not to confuse stereotypes and other clichés with reality
- show respect
- build trusted relationships with people who are the victims of stereotypes
- facilitate mutual understanding
- create opportunities where bias can reduce them
- Stay alert and note judgment very quickly.
- Ask yourself what objectively validates and invalidates your judgment.
- Reverse it…and laugh (kindly) at yourself.
For example: seeing a young colleague in a “grotesque outfit,” rephrasing with: “Hey, Nora has a very creative outfit. She dares to shake up our habits.”
Promote psychological safety and well-being
- perform well without getting exhausted
- strengthen trust within teams
- multiply options despite obstacles
- collectively grow
- Encourage open communication = refrain from any conversation you would not like in front of the concerned person.
- View your mistakes and those of others as opportunities for learning and growth.
- Build a culture of constructive feedback.
Use different communication and management styles
- meet the needs of its interlocutors
- quickly adapt to different situations
- reach your goals more easily and quickly
- increase your options in a variety of contexts
- be culturally agile!
- Identify your preferred communication and management styles
- Identify the communication styles of your partners and learn to adapt to them
- Try, and persevere to finally succeed in navigating between styles and cultures while remaining aligned with your values and preserving your well-being in the long term.
As you have understood, developing Cultural Agility requires time and commitment!
The good news is that you are already using some of the abovementioned techniques, perhaps without being fully aware. In addition, not all require the same degree of commitment, perseverance, and interaction to be operational.
Which ones are already part of your routine?
Which ones could you develop shortly to become more culturally agile?
Share your answers!
Finally, if you are interested in Cultural Agility, follow our news and discover our training programs, seminar, and individual coaching offers.
Journaling empowers inclusive leaders by fostering self-reflection, emotional intelligence, and cultural agility. Through regular writing, leaders gain insights into biases, enhance decision-making, and create inclusive environments. It transforms their approach, leading to positive organizational change and a culture of respect and collaboration.
Du 7 au 9 juillet 2023 dans le Poitou