I am excited to share with you an interview led by Malii Brown, Director of Global Network Communications at intercultures and provide some inspiration for how you can tackle cultural challenges in the upcoming year.
But before I do, I wanted to share something from the interview that got me thinking when I listened to the recording. Around the 2-minute mark, Malii said, “Give us an example of one of the challenges you have experience personally or professionally, and how you creatively responded to it.”
You will hear me laugh (warning, you either love or hate my laugh!) and mention that I was scanning my brain for one of the many cultural blunders I have made (not creative responses).
It reminded me of the many times I have done something in a new cultural context, and then later thought, “Whoops! I should have known better.” Othertimes, I ask myself, “How could I have known?” Then I am reminded to take a sip of my own medicine and keep in mind that intercultural competence (like any learning) is not turned on and off like a switch. It is a life-long process, heavily influenced by context.
In a recent workshop on culture shock and cultural fatigue, one of the participants seemed to experience a sense of relief when I put a name to the phases(1) of intercultural learning:
- unconscious incompetence
- conscious incompetence
- conscious competence
- unconscious competence
I have to admit “unconscious incompetence” is tempting, as we are completely unaware of the trouble we are causing. It also doesn´t feel awkward – it feels natural. Drawing from a common English expression though, it is like pulling the wool over our own eyes. Raising our awareness to the role of culture is waking up to what was in front of us the whole time. And this is where the real fun begins. I promise.
What lies ahead are moments of laughter, discomfort, risk-taking, joy, confusion, a deep sense of achievement, new-found connections – and more. This is living. This is the intercultural journey.
Join me for my last monthly contribution for intercultures in 2014, where you can glean inspiration for your own intercultural competence journey. You will learn:
- How you can apply “intercultural competence” in a way that is relevant to your specific workplace – regardless of whether you are an expat abroad or working in your own country
- How you can “tell the story” of culture responsibly (and avoid over-generalizations)
- One practical thing that you can do to reduce overwhelm and increase your intercultural competence throughout the year
When you´ve finished listening, I want to know what you will be doing in 2015 to live well, be successful across cultures and keep your sense of adventure. Join me in the comments section below.
I look forward to hearing from you!