8 Ways to Enhance Cross-Cultural Competence

See also: Understanding Intersectionality

Have you ever been in a setting wherein the people around you are from different cultures?

Establishing relationships with people from various races, dialects, ethnicities, or economic groups is thought to be integral in building diverse communities.

A community with such diversity is capable of achieving significant goals.

Cross-Cultural Competence and the Importance of Enhancing It

A group of people's character traits, insights, spirituality, food, art forms, and behavioral patterns are often considered their culture. When such people actively engage with individuals outside their culture efficiently and successfully, it's referred to as cross-cultural competence.

Cross-cultural competency is the capacity to comprehend and engage with people from a variety of cultures, not just one. Whether you're at work, in school, traveling, or reaching out in a foreign cultural setting, if you're displaying appropriateness and effectiveness in your conduct, you're cross-culturally competent.

Working to develop cultural competence can allow you to understand, connect with, and efficiently engage with people across cultures. Besides that, it may allow you to compare foreign cultures with your own and have a better understanding of the differences. Inadvertently, you'd be able to bring your own cultural perspective to any situation.

Strategies for the Development and Enhancement of Cross-Cultural Competence

To develop positive relationships with people from other cultures, you must first strengthen your cross-cultural competency.

To do this, consider the approaches outlined below.

1. Attend Diversity-Focused Training or Conferences

Receive formal education and training on diversity-related studies such as courses on reconciliation and cultural allyship. Aside from that, practice issues by gaining knowledge regarding new research findings and attending diversity training and symposiums. By doing so, you'd gain a better understanding of how science can become more receptive to diversity and how it may have a positive impact on historically oppressed diverse communities.

A group of people from various different cultures and ethnic backgrounds.

2. Have an Open Mind

Openness is a sign of acceptance and respect for differences. It's critical to maintain an open mind toward people, their opinions and their experiences in order to be aware of the differences and similarities. This is because people usually acknowledge those who are interested in knowing them and gaining knowledge about their culture.

By cultivating empathy, you can improve your receptivity. So, extend your awareness beyond yourself and into the circumstances of others and make some effort to understand their feelings and thoughts. 

3. Be Sensitive to Others

Meeting people from many cultural backgrounds is an effective way to broaden your perspectives and social network. But the problem is sometimes a lack of awareness could result in offensive words or behaviors that can generate conflict. Therefore, sensitivity to the cultural backgrounds of others is a vital skill in all aspects of life.

Being culturally sensitive when interacting with others can result in pleasant and enriching encounters. To be successful in doing so, you may need to develop an understanding of your own worldview, refrain from making assumptions, familiarize yourself with other cultures, and respect boundaries.

4. Show a Spirit of Adventure

Another method to demonstrate cultural competency is to have an adventurous spirit. This entails showing your curiosity and discovering opportunities in diverse settings. Aside from learning about culture and people through reading books, watching movies, or attending classes, you can try gaining experiences.

As clichéd as it may sound, having firsthand knowledge about another culture is the best teacher, if not immersion. As you gain experiences, expect that the lessons can be hurtful. Nevertheless, you must grasp the lessons, explore them, make errors, apologize for mistakes, assimilate what you've learned, and keep trying again.

Three women from different cultures communicating.

5. Be Adaptable

As you interact with the global society, keep in mind that other cultures may perceive the world differently than you do. Therefore, as part of becoming cross-culturally competent, it's important to be flexible to different cultures.

You can start by being conscious of the distinctions of each culture. This prevents you from imposing incorrect personal sentiments or thoughts onto others. In addition, encourage yourself to be inquisitive and educate yourself about diverse cultures. Immersing yourself in how others live, reason, and function can help you develop a greater sensitivity to others' way of thinking and existence.

6. Demonstrate a Sense of Humility

Cultural humility refers to the humble and compassionate attitude toward people from different cultures. It encourages one to confront their own cultural prejudices, acknowledge they can't claim to know everything about other cultures, and treat cultural understanding as a continuous objective and endeavor.

Consider for example an American physician who works at a Spanish hospital. Due to their patients’ Mexican ancestry, they may need to spend several months studying Spanish literature in order to become acquainted with the new community. As a result, they become well informed, self-assured, and culturally competent as they begin their job.

The example can be your guide in demonstrating cultural humility. You can't presume you already understand everything about people from diverse cultural backgrounds. Rather than that, seek to understand and inquire about others' personal cultural backgrounds, experiences and values.

7. Practice Positive Change

Another way to be culturally competent is to create a positive change. Cultural competence may be ineffective if you don't demonstrate a positive change in the environment where you work or function. Becoming culturally competent entails successfully eliminating older perceptions and ideas—which were frequently adopted without eliciting corresponding behavioral changes—of cultural sensitivity and awareness.

8. Have a Good Sense of Humor

All human cultures have elements of levity. However, individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds may perceive comedy differently. A sense of humor is inextricably linked to a group of people's national identity, common worldview, and customs that are so familiar to them but alien to foreign people. And somehow, there are more profound levels of humor that may attack others' boundaries.

This is why it's critical to understand how culture affects the perception of comedy, use of humor, and its consequences for others' emotional well-being. Besides that, a good sense of humor can be integral in picking up the humor of others, irrespective of where they're from. 

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Wrapping Up

Cross-cultural competency has gained significance as society has become more diverse and different cultures have intermixed. That's why by increasing one's cultural competency, one's productivity and efficiency may grow, thereby improving one's understanding, communication, and engagement with people from other cultures. Try to learn from the ways mentioned above and expand your knowledge.

About the Author

Zee is dedicated to inspiring people to see the world. She enjoys traveling to different countries and creating content about her travels and endeavors.