Heading into a new and different cultural environment? New job? New prospect? New assignment? New team? New opportunity?
Are the stakes high? If so, then assuming that everyone is the same and “just winging it” is a risky proposition.
Do yourself a favor and take a moment to apply these 4+ tips for your next intercultural opportunity:
No. 1: Review what is at stake, both for you and the other party. Where do interests align and diverge?
No. 2: Check your knowledge. Get the basics of the target culture. What is the political structure? What are the business norms? Even a quick internet search will give you some basic orientation.
No.3: Check your baggage. What assumptions or judgements are you bringing about the target culture and the people with whom you will interact? Which assumptions/judgements serve and which ones do not? Eject the latter before arrival.
No. 4: Stretch. Think about the realities of the situation. How might a new approach be of value? How has inflexibility in behavior led to lost opportunities?
No. 4+: Us the values “foot test.” Values are a little like feet in that we notice them the most when they are elevated (honored) or stepped on (dishonored). In dealing with the target culture have you felt times when a value felt like it got stepped on? What are some constructive responses? Think of a time when a value felt honored. How might you capitalize on that alignment?