Knowing where you get the energy from to learn about anything intercultural is super important. This can help you determine what arguments, methods and trackers to use when working on enhancing your cultural intelligence.
- Sometimes you simply want to experience the diversity, other cultures, meet people from all over the world and learn about how they view the world.
- Sometimes you might not be too fussed about it, but you happen to be in a job that requires you to be able to work with people from other cultural backgrounds.
- Other times, you just like doing what comes naturally to you, you feel efficient in your communication with others and that acts as a positive trigger to continue such interactions.
When you are working within diverse teams, understanding your own and other colleagues’ motivations can be very useful, for example to come up with strategy plans for working with a vendor from abroad, dividing tasks or choosing the main representative to work with a new client.
Read on and let me know in the comments which type of motivation seems to be the closest to you and why! 🙂
Loving it to the guts
Some people have a very strong internal interest in other cultures, in discovering things that are different, in learning about other perspectives. That can be called an intrinsic interest, and therefore an internal motivation to learn about other cultures.
If that is you, I would love to encourage you to use this motivation and take it one step further! After all, you are already so interested and have so much fun when interacting with people from different cultures! Try to organise your existing knowledge or gain some new one, in order to not just be excited, but also to be more aware of where different behaviours might come from!
Remember how we talked about the difference between a tourist and an expat experience of a country? Go beyond just being curious and noticing stuff, take it to the next level and start understanding the values below the surface that influence social behaviours in a given culture. Go even one more step forward – start including your teams into such conversations! Go get the unconvinced and show them the benefits of these intercultural interactions.
To track your progress and keep up this motivation, you can use the number of energising intercultural interactions you have per week – and if you’re not having as many as you’d like, go and get them!
Just have to do it because… life.
Quite often, you might encounter people who are rather indifferent to the cultural differences. If they want to work with me, they need to adjust – that’s their mantra. Well, if you ask me, you know that I will say this is not necessarily the most efficient strategy to working across cultures.
However, such approach could potentially be a very good starter for those colleagues to thinking about efficiency of their intercultural business encounters.
If you find yourself in this description and approach this topic with a slight skepticism – please stay with me. I imagine that if you are the employee of today’s world you will simply have no escape from diversity, be it cultural, ethnic, of perspectives or opinions. If you are ambitious, are striving to grow and be more efficient, you need to think about using this to your advantage.
The people who are more effective in working across cultures and are vocal about their interest will get that open assignment abroad before you. People who are more flexible in working across different cultures will nail this one client that you were after for so long. People who are more open to diversity will have richer experience that they can share with colleagues and clients, which in turn is helping them gain trust more quickly. Do you really want for all these opportunities to go past you just because you are a bit skeptical about this soft cultural intelligence concept? 😉
Today is about finding this external motivating factor that will help you stay on track for learning about all things cultural. What would it be for you – Promotion? Assignment abroad? More effective leading of multicultural teams? Or yet something else? Keep this at the forefront of your daily activities and stay motivated!
Positive feedback loop
One other thing you can be motivated by is just the sole feeling that you are confident and usually effective in multicultural situations. So you might already instinctively feel positive about interacting with people from other cultures and the more positive situations you associate with such interactions, the more you want to experience them. Therefore, in turn, more often you are putting yourself in situations where you need to interact with people from different cultural backgrounds.
When thinking about this type of motivation, I’d like to encourage you to think about the following two things.
Firstly, try to reflect on the interactions that you are having rather than just keep looking for new ones. You clearly enjoy them and are not afraid of starting an interaction with someone from a different culture. But try to think about: 1. What strategies are you using to make these a success? 2. Are you using the best possible approach to achieve your goals? 3. Is there any specific piece of knowledge that would be helpful for you to make sense of some of the difficult conversations you are having?
Secondly, where does your confidence come from? What do you think makes you want to have those interactions and be successful in them? When you know this, you can also then share it with your team members and help them gain this confidence. You can support others in growing their self-efficacy in cross-cultural conversations that they are having daily. This, by the way, could create another positive loop which will boost your motivation to learn more – when you see others succeeding and being more effective, you may want to learn and experience even more to pass your tips to your colleagues! 🙂
So there you go, three main motivating factors that most people have for learning about other cultures and improving their cultural effectiveness. Does it have to be one or another? Not at all! As with anything, you can be motivated by multiple factors to doing certain things. For example, if you are at school and preparing for a test, your motivations can include getting a good grade, not wanting to disappoint your parents and teachers, or simply enjoying the topic and having intrinsic motivation to learn. All these are equally valid and can exist at the same time.
Same with the cultural intelligence!
You can derive genuine enjoyment from interacting with people from different cultures, but also know that learning more about a certain market will help you get a promotion and lead a project there in the nearest future because you’d be perceived as a specialist. When one type of motivation gets tiresome, you can remind yourself of another reason you started thinking about the topic and keep going!
I am genuinely passionate about the topic and my motivation is certainly deriving from all three sources. All these keep me going and help me find the drive to work with my international assignees, write this blog and learn about different cultures on a daily basis.
What is your biggest motivation to learning about cultural differences and working effectively across cultures?