January 25, 2020
Are You Equipped for Relational Success in a Global World?
Even if you haven’t left home, the world has very likely come to you. No matter where we live, intercultural connecting happens to most of us; either virtually or face-to-face.
That is why we at KnowledgeWorkx have made it our mission to:
The above strap line is not just a nice sentence for us; it has become a lifestyle, a calling and an incredibly rewarding and fun way to add value in our world. If we unpack that statement, we notice at least two important assumptions that we believe should pervade our thinking: We live in a “global” world that is interculturally complex; and “relational success” is possible if we recognize we need ways to better relate to one another.
We use powerful frameworks to simplify culture and behavioral styles. Equipping people with the tools they need to achieve more together. Here is one of the many scenarios we regularly run into at KnowledgeWorkx
Two high level leaders of a company from different parts of the world are working together to develop a new office in a third country that will act as a hub for the entire region. Both are struggling to understand all the new dynamics of their environment. They love the idea of a new experience living overseas and the prospect of personal growth has played a big part in making this decision. A few months in they are getting bogged down with all sorts of issues that have little to do with their actual jobs. Initially it may be something as simple as a difference in communication style. Then it begins to grow into cultural stereotypes and even discontent with their colleagues or work environment.
They face these parallel problems:
i) The global nature of the task (making a new hub for a different region of the world). When you move to a country or even a new state/territory/region within the same country you will feel a difference in the culture. Your brain doesn’t “just” have to adapt to a new work environment. It has to adapt to everything from your daily commute to processing new language barriers to using new currencies. Your brain is doing everything it can to ensure your survival and adaptation.
ii) The interpersonal aspect of interacting with colleagues from different cultures, many of whom are themselves adjusting to a new environment. With similar cultures this adjustment may be simple or require very little change. If the move is to a new region of the world you will almost always experience some degree of culture shock as you begin to adapt. People will communicate to you in new ways and even the best of intentions can become clouded with misperception. If you do not have a solid framework to process these differences you will naturally build basis off of stereotypes or withdraw for fear of being misunderstood/avoid conflict.
This dual challenge presented by a global and interculturally complex world is increasingly common in every industry.
The significance of living in a global and interculturally complex world
We use the terms “global” and “interculturally complex”, because they represent the two aspects of the challenges we all face in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution: the geographic aspect and the interpersonal aspect. Increasingly, people and organizations truly do work in multiple geographies – they must, in order to survive and grow. True, Culture is not the only aspect of interpersonal dynamics, but it is one of the most important contributing factors. We believe that culture is first and foremost personal. We know that national, ethnic and race-oriented stereotypes can hurt. Whether we have left our home countries or simply moved to a new city. Each one of us is on a unique cultural journey that are resulted in a unique cultural wiring. We all have a cultural story to tell that is personal and we know people need language to tell their story. That is what our ICI framework allows you to do. You are given the power to understand who you are as a cultural human being. Once you understand yourself culturally then you can understand your fellow colleague. You can map your culture, build a bridge to theirs to enhance your relational success together.
Even if you don’t personally work in multiple countries, this complexity is still present. You may work primarily in one large cosmopolitan area, or in one of the intercultural pockets that grew up around the confluence of opportunities presented by specific industries (for example, the oil and gas industry transforming the small city of Stavanger, Norway into a rich and complex cultural melting pot). Even if you have just made an urban to rural or rural to urban transition. The complexity is there, and you still need to manage relationships with clients and colleagues across multiple geographies, or the policies of multiple jurisdictions, and therefore the worldviews represented there.
The term “relational success” is intentionally broad because improving your cultural understanding has a positive effect on relationships of every nature.
Too often people just accept that they live in an environment where clashes are common, if not inevitable. We have learned that these clashes typically arise because of a misunderstanding of the cultural complexities behind everyday interactions. But we don’t have to face these challenges through gritted teeth. By becoming more interculturally intelligent, we can learn to be successful in these environments.
We like to use the phrase “relational success”, because the intercultural global space can be a place where we can quickly adapt even when pushed outside our comfort zone. With the term Relational Success there is a natural implication you can have relational FAILURE. This is the reason why politicians and corporations have a PR department because the cost of relational failure is not only difficult to recover from, but costly. Navigating intercultural waters can be a place that is fun, energizing, adventurous, and even comfortable. Yes, there is complexity there; but that complexity can be simplified through our ICI Framework. You can bring common and neutral language into a group of people to explain differences, remove misperception, bring understanding and appreciation.
Check out more articles on our KnowledgeWorkx Resource page.
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