We are living in a connected world
Our world has become pretty connected, online, and offline, thanks to the vast development of international trade. We can profoundly feel these connections during the Corona pandemic: Suddenly, goods from abroad take much longer to arrive on the supermarket shelves, or they do not at all. You have to postpone or cancel your trip to other countries because there are no flights. And for the same reason, the guest workers can not come and harvest vegetables on the field, so even if those vegetables are grown in Germany, there is none to buy. These are just some examples of how we are connected with other countries in real life. The list can go much longer, but I think you get it already.
Nowadays, it’s almost impossible for a daily life without interactions with other cultures. Even if you don’t proactively ask for it, the interactions take place at school, at work, or even at home. I believe many people who read this article are also living in a foreign country.
Do you just want to survive, or do you want to thrive?
If you are reading this article and not living in your home country, you will most likely have made some experiences with other cultures and somewhat developed your multiculti tolerance. You know that people from Asia have different values and do not tick the same as people from America, and you might not easily get offended when something illogical happens (for you, not for the other side of the communication). Knowing that people from other cultures might not share the same values as yours, you accept that and keep doing our things your way. That is enough to survive in an intercultural environment.
But do you just want to survive? Do you not want to have a successful career? And even if you are not a career person, what about making good friends, being able to understand the causes of many small misunderstandings, or having empathy with your close ones?
You can do more than just accepting the differences between people. If you want to thrive at work, lead a meaningful life, or have friends you can count on, understanding and mastering intercultural competencies is a must. To be more specific: intercultural communication competence.
Intercultural communication for dummies
Since the 90s, there have been many who want to know what makes cultures so dissimilar. The good news is: They can explain their research to you in simple ways. In this article, I will introduce you to 2 of my favorite theories about cultures.
The first theory is The Lewis Model, developed by Richard Lewis, the latest to gain worldwide recognition. Lewis divided cultures into three categories based on human behavior. He named them Linear active (Logicians), Multi-active (Emotionals), and reactive (Diplomats). For example, a Vietnamese living in Germany is a diplomat type living between Logicians. To know why, take a look at the graph below:
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Within this blog article, it’s impossible to explain cross-cultural theories thoroughly, not even to mention how to apply those theories in real life to achieve your goals. If you want to know how to improve your intercultural communication skills, how to use it effectively in a professional environment, there are many options thanks to the internet:
Online Videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMyofREc5Jk (TED talk)
Online Videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_yw_mqMnU6g Practical Intercultural Communication Tips Applied to Business Settings
If you want something more interactive and up-to-date, have your questions directly answered and talk to intercultural communications in a more personal level, I would suggest visiting a webinar or take part in a workshop:
Training from Uni, starting this October, online: https://www.notredameonline.com/programs/course/advanced-intercultural-management/