The main problem is that we are usually not conscious of how we interact with the world around us.
In my last post you have learned how differences in behaviours, the gap between your and others’ behaviours will create a culture shock with all the negative feelings this shock might bring. Your capabilities are how well or not you understand why you behave the way you do and why others behave also the way they do.
You have learned to behave a certain way from your most tender age. You did it completely unconsciously, just by watching people around you and without awareness of it, by copying. With time all these behaviours you acquired became the norm, what is appropriate or right. You do most of these things without thinking. It is so engrained that it becomes a part of yourself. And it is a good thing: you don’t want to have to think every time what the appropriate behaviour, answer is.
However, when you change cultural environment, move to a different country, all the scripts you have learned and know by heart are suddenly useless. You do not understand people’s behaviours and they can’t make sense of yours.
How able you are to understand what drives your behaviours, others’ and how you take this into account to adapt to the new cultural environment you are in will determine the success or not of your experience in this environment.
You probably have been sent for an assignment in a different place because you are successful, a high-flyer. It is normal to think that you can use in this new environment what has made you successful until now. Unfortunately, it probably will not work. To be successful in this new environment, you need to know what are your own cultural rules, how they may actually be unhelpful now. You also need to understand what the expected rules are in your new cultural environment.
The next step then will be the crucial one. Understanding is not enough on its own. To be successful you need to be able to change, to challenge your own current rules. This is the difficult part. It is where a coach specialising in cultural diversity will be able to help. A coach will help you to understand your cultural preferences, the preferences in your new environment and find strategies and solutions to adapt your preferences to interact successfully.
Once you are able to achieve this, you will have increased your capabilities. This increased knowledge will trickle down the neurological levels pyramid and you will exhibit behaviours more in tune with your environment, behaviours which bring the results you are looking for.
Expanding your cultural skills, capabilities is a big improvement. However, to make it more powerful, it is necessary to link these capabilities to the next level in the pyramid and understand how your values and beliefs are helping you or hindering you. This is what we will cover in the next post.