Working across cultures with Paula Caligiuri
October 3, 2019
Cultural agility is the ability to quickly, comfortably, and effectively work in different countries and collaborate successfully with people from different cultures. In episode 21 of the Talent Champions podcast, Diana talks with Paula Caligiuri about how developing cultural agility is a pressing need for leaders in all organizations—not only multinational corporations. Learn how to assess and build a culturally agile team.
Cultural agility is the ability to quickly, comfortably, and effectively work in different countries and with people from different cultures. Regardless of whether you’re visiting another country, using technology to connect with people from around the world, or working with people who’ve come from abroad, cultural agility is a key competency in large and small organizations alike.
As you think about developing organizational cultural agility, you need to know your bench strength. There are three components to assessing cultural agility: One, cultural awareness, or a basic understanding that individuals from different backgrounds interpret things differently. Two, being from or traveling to another country doesn’t automatically make you culturally agile—you need to be able to see things from another person’s perspective. Three, personality traits of humility, curiosity, and resilience can be developed to help an individual quickly build cultural agility.
When you travel internationally, find a peer or someone who is a native of the country and spend some quality time with that individual—share a meal or enjoy a relaxed conversation. Doing so will help you to understand what they do and how they do it. You can also ask them to help you understand how to be more effective in that culture.
If you’re dealing with individuals who aren’t naturally culturally agile, don’t throw them into the deep end of culture shock. Ramp up their cultural experiences over time. Remember that cultural develops gradually. As a child you learned your culture by degrees, and developing cultural agility as an adult will be similar.
When working with a language barrier, eye contact and a friendly smile can go a long way to developing a warm environment. Also, make the effort to learn how to pronounce an unfamiliar name correctly.
Even the younger generations on college campuses today that are digitally connected and learning in diverse environments still rate themselves low on cultural agility—the need for training and work in this area isn’t going away.
Bonus Content: Develop Your Cultural Agility
Do you have the cross-cultural competencies necessary to meet the global challenges facing your organization now and in the future? Complete the form to access a free downloadable article from Paula Caligiuri, originally published in T+D Magazine.