Tag Archives: 7 Principles of intercultural effectiveness

12695279_1056623704380238_1847484206_oIn the series “Seven Principles of Intercultural Effectiveness” I would like to show you how you can reach your targets across cultures by adhering to seven principles. We have covered principle 1 and principle 2 in earlier posts.

Principle 3 is called

“I am more compassionate.”

 

As an intercultural coach I find it very important that you work with an open heart. This means that you show more compassion than the average person. If you have a friend or a relative in the family who is suffering from a health issue or less able to make a living than you are how about you spend a bit of time with that person and find out how you can help him or her. Another good way to show your compassion is by helping those who need support in our society: Children, elderly citizens, the homeless and refugees or migrants. Serving others with compassion is a spiritual exercise that will help you become more effective across cultures as well.

2nd (1)
In the series “Seven Principles of Intercultural Effectiveness” I would like to show you how you can reach your targets across cultures by adhering to seven principles. We have covered the first principle in an earlier post.
The second principle is called

 “I watch my conclusion form other angles.”

It is easy to make a judgement without knowing the background and cultural assumptions behind certain behavior. If you want to become inter-culturally effective you need to learn to hold your judgement and watch your conclusion from different angles. It also helps to assume that the opposite of what you interpret could be true as well. So when you are experiencing a culture clash take note of what you believe is going on and then write down what else it could be.
When we look at discussions of the same event and read about this in newspapers with an opposing political view you see my point. You could read one journalist’s opinion and think “Yes, she has a point.”. The you read a contrary view on the events and you think “He is right as well.”. In intercultural competence we call this ability that you can deal with ambiguity. That is not always easy. Believe me. It’s a good exercise though.
Take a look at an intercultural clash experience you had. Write down conclusion A. Then write down the complete opposite. What is your experience from this exercise?
1st
In the series “Seven Principles of Intercultural Effectiveness” I would like to show you how you can reach your targets across cultures by adhering to seven principles.
The first principle is grounded in the lost long art of trying harder and showing more patience. It is called:

“I try harder and show more patience.”

In Switzerland, we are obsessed with the concept of time. We believe in process improvement and efficiency. What I have learnt though is that in intercultural communication you cannot be efficient in the Western worldview sense of the world. You need to learn to be “inefficient” in order to achieve your goals. Achieving your goals is what you interact with people for in the business world. I am not talking about your personal life here. Let’s say you want to develop your business in India. You have a limited budget and limited resources. Also, your time is your most important resource.
Now, you want to be effective, which means you want to reach your goal in the intercultural communication with the least amount of effort and resources. This could be a contract or a deal. It would be short-sighted to only measure the end result, i.e. the signature of the deal as the process to get there will be different in India than in Switzerland. In many cultures in the world, it is important to build relationships before doing business so if you give up on your business partners because they have not bought your machines the first time you went there you might be losing a lot of good business opportunities.
For your initial business trip to India, your main target, therefore, should be to get to know your prospects and business partners from all angles of their lives. Understand what they are struggling with, what they like to do when they don’t work and meet their children. Take the time to learn about the Indian culture while you are there. Get more information on the societal status of your business partner and their religious background. Find out what they like from Switzerland and bring it. Invest in the relationship only. When they want to talk business they will let you know.
In every interaction with your Indian counterpart withhold your judgement. It might be that this person is moving a lot faster than you and has more responsibilities to tackle but you won’t notice that unless you meet them in person. Find out what their day looks like. Be personal and approachable.

I know around three books on “intercultural coaching”. The best one has been written by my former housemate Kirsten Nazarkiewicz. Great minds live in the same building. Kirsten was ten years ago where I wanted to be now. She was an intercultural coach when no one knew what that meant.

1st principle of intercultural effectivenessWhile the term “Intercultural Coach” seems to have meaning in Germany it is not commonly known in Switzerland. There are different approaches to “intercultural coaching” and the term “interculturalist” is not used in Switzerland a lot. What we do is coaching professionals through an intercultural transition ideally improving their effectiveness by increasing intercultural competence on different levels.

In our business (Global People Transitions GmbH – the name says is all) it means coaching in an intercultural transition context or coaching of global managers.

We integrate developing intercultural effectiveness into all our programs as we feel it is a key competence for global leaders, in client service and global team performance. For our client selection it means that we value intercultural diversity.

Why it can sometimes be a burden to be an intercultural coach

The Swiss culture in my view tends to value the opposite. It’s based on excluding rather than including. If you look at how “Switzerland” was founded it is very obvious why the people learnt through generation to protect each other from the enemies outside. What started with the Ruetlischwur in 1291 is still in the mindset of the culture. (I call this concept “The Circle of Trust” in my best Robert de Niro-Voice).

The other reason is that in my personal life I spend time with people from different cultural backgrounds. The multitude of experiences and lifestyles sometimes clashes. There are situations in my life where I have to get up and leave a discussion because I cannot handle it emotionally. It often happens when differing religious and political views are at the table.

While I consider myself open and tolerant I have a strong value-based attitude that is biased towards “Germanic” logic and values. My approach can get into my way. I get frustrated when clients or friends have a different approach.

As most people I tend to overestimate my intercultural sensitivity and I am not as great in this topic when I get under pressure. As most of us I fall back into my “cultural default” (citing Sundae Schneider-Bean, another outstanding intercultural coach and trainer) when under stress.

My seven Principles for Intercultural Effectiveness

When I am asked in a coaching or training: “So what do you do about that?” I have to say that I try and fail or in most cases I eventually succeed if I follow those seven principles.

1) I try harder and show more patience.

2) I watch my conclusion from other angles.

3) I am more compassionate.

4) I give people a third and fourth chance.

5) I trust even if I had been hurt before.

6) I listen to my heart.

7) I speak slow and use simple language.

What I have learnt over the years working across cultures that we have a lot more potential to be compassionate without judging. We just need to learn to reevaluate our conclusions and judgements. We need to give people a fourth and fifth chance and we need to accept them how they are. Then we are true humans, we are able to forgive and we’ll have improving performances in our global teams.

If you struggle with the same topics contact me for a Skype session.

Read also:

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