Intercultural Empathy: A Guide to Real Understanding Across Cultures

Intercultural empathy is one of the key skills needed to develop a real understanding across cultures. Essentially, it consists of three dimensions: Cognitive empathy: the ability to put ourselves into the perspective of the other person and imagine how he or she perceives a particular situation Emotional empathy: the ability to imagine the feelings that the other is feeling in a particular…

How to Create Balance Between Firmness of Character and Adaptability

Are you more like the break-dancer, or are you more like the sumo-ringer? The break-dancer is flexible. He adjusts quickly to any music which is playing, and he can move his body in a large variety of ways. The sumo-ringer is firm. He can withstand any weight that is pressing on him and he has the strength of will to…

How to Become an Effective Intercultural Communicator

In this article, I am going to explain how to apply the concept of deliberate practice to become a more effective intercultural communicator. Anders Ericsson is the researcher who has spent his career studying expert performance and who has since explained the concept of deliberate practice in his book Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise. Before getting into…

4 Strategies To Overcome Your Own Cultural Conditioning

Your cultural conditioning is something that has been ingrained into your psyche over the years from the time you were born. The environment you grew up in influenced to a strong degree how you think, communicate and behave. By passing on their wisdom to you, the people in your surroundings have made you a functioning member of society. Without this…

Different cultures, different ways of resolving conflicts

Recently a friend of mine was telling me how in the company she previously worked for, ‘Asians were literally abused, because they are so quiet’. Meaning, an incredibly heavy work-load was distributed to them, failure of projects was blamed on them etc. That’s not only sad to hear, but it’s also interesting how people attribute ‘quietness’ to their Asian colleagues. Yes,…

What “Hey Mate!” really means – go beyond the obvious.

If you ever lived in Australia, you will have heard it a thousand times: “hey mate!”, or the almost stereotypical “G’day mate!”. A lot of migrants adapt to this quite quickly, and start saying it themselves. It is one of the most obvious cultural behaviours to adopt, simply because we hear it so many times. The same goes for words…

What Blocks us in Intercultural Encounters?

We assume similarities It is a natural tendency for us to assume that “hey, everybody should think like me”. Putting ourselves into the shoes of another person is just not our natural way of thinking. We are, by definition, self-centered. Our own view is the only one that we understand, and that we are familiar with. In other words: intercultural…

How to use the GROW Model to Deal With Cross-Cultural Conflicts

Not  everybody has the money to pay a professional coach. And while I think it is a very worthy investment, I thought I’d share with you a little bit of what a coach would do if you were to work with him or her. What you need to know is that coaches do not provide you with solutions, they support you…

Why Watching Cultural Performances Is More Important Than You Thought

I must admit that I am not really the type who often goes to cultural events like dances, theater and so on. Maybe this will change now. The reason why I did not appreciate it very much was that I saw it more as pure entertainment, rather than something that I could learn from. But when I went to a performance of…