Intercultural skills are all about being able to communicate effectively with people from different cultural backgrounds. They play a central role in creating successful team and client relationships, and are therefore valued highly by employers.
Here are five steps to improve your intercultural skills:
1. Be open-minded
It's hard to understand someone else's perspective if you don't allow yourself to be open to their point of view. Whatever your convictions or customs, accept that others might do things differently and show respect for this.
A lack of understanding between two parties will often lead to a strained relationship, which is why it's important to educate yourself. The internet represents a vast repository of knowledge about different cultural practices, while there are also more old-school options: reading a book, watching a film or, for a more hands-on approach, travelling.
While books and films may provide you with useful practical information, you'll learn the most from actually engaging with people. The more you talk to different people, the more you'll learn to see things from a whole range of different perspectives, increasing your ability to empathise with others and connect with them on a deeper level.
4. Be self-aware
Think about how you present yourself, the way you talk and your overall attitude: what impression do you think you're making on those around you? Could your behaviour be misinterpreted or is there any way your actions might cause offence? Adjusting your own way of communicating is an important element in building positive relationships with others.
5. Don't make assumptions
When you judge someone based on stereotypes or assumptions you're essentially stripping them of their individuality; you're putting a label on them without considering who they really are. Take time to get to know and understand the people around you and treat everyone equally.
When it comes down to it, improving your intercultural skills means getting into a certain mindset; to display an openness to others, an enthusiasm to engage with them and a willingness to learn and adapt. This way you'll foster a culture of positivity which will ultimately benefit all parties involved.
Sources: Abintegro, Reference: Skills You Need; English and Culture Tutoring Services
Photo: Somenath Mukhopadhyay
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Pearson