As we work across cultures it is easy to get tripped up by irritation, anger, and defensiveness. These negative reactions can knock us into a very unproductive state and, if we are not careful, might lead to actions with negative consequences.
How can you break out of this cycle? It is not always easy, but a good dose of curiosity can often provide a way. Marilee Goldberg Adams, a leading coach and author, writes in detail about the role of curiosity in her Learner-Judger model.
Curiosity in the face of negative situations can lead to more and better solutions. Think about what is going on when we are curious: open to learning, accepting, expanded perspective, creative, in dialogue… Conversely, think about what is going on when we are more judgmental than curious: rigid, reactive, intolerant, fearful of differences, in debate….
Getting curious about why our international colleagues and partners are doing things in a certain way opens up possibilities for discovery, dialogue, and learning. Judgment stops these possibilities dead in their tracks.
So next time you are feeling some angst in the midst of your intercultural interactions (and the opportunities may be frequent!), take a breath…and get curious.