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3 Bite-Sized Steps to Cultural Competence


How do we become more culturally competent?

What steps can we take in order to work with people from other countries and cultures more effectively?

Now, from the get-go, it’s important to bear in mind that cultural competence is a journey, not a destination.

It takes time, it takes experience and it takes thought.

You don’t just become culturally competent – you have to work for it.

Don't miss the free SAMPLE of our
eLearning COURSE on Cultural Competence
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Firstly, why is Cultural Competence important?

Cultural Competence is Essential for Business Today

“Culturally competent staff and their intercultural mindsets are essential to the productive overseas’ business. International businesses are increasingly mindful of the need to recruit staff with the ability to navigate and harness opportunities in diverse intercultural settings. As such, cultural competencies are valuable assets which are fast becoming a core subject within the recruitment process.”  Erin Stanchester, International Headhunter

Thriving international businesses are more likely than ever before to attribute business expansion to the cultural competence and intercultural mindset of their staff.

Businesses that recognise the role of culture typically place it at the heart of their L&D, recruitment and talent management processes.

If you work for an international organisation, then you’re probably already familiar with the term and making the necessary efforts to increase your cultural understanding and know-how.

No doubt your skills and insights will put you ahead of the competition when it comes to future promotions and interviews.

To help you on your journey, we’ve put together 3 steps that will go a long way to boosting the cultural competence and productivity of individuals working in an international setting or multicultural team.

1. Be Aware of Your Reactions to Others

The way we see the world is shaped by our cultural upbringing. This upbringing dictates what we see as right or wrong, acceptable or unacceptable.

In the cultural training field, we like to use the analogy of the ‘cultural lens’, which describes the scenario of people wearing their own unique set of lenses which are formed by their upbringing and values.

Our lenses can tell us a great deal about ourselves. Imagine, for example, that you become irritated by someone who is extremely deferential to their superiors. Take the time to consider your reactions and to think about why this has irritated you. Is it because you’re someone who places value on equality rather than hierarchy?

By constantly challenging and reflecting upon your reactions to the behaviours you see around you, you will start to gain far greater self-awareness, which is essential to understanding others.

Woman on international call

Working with people from around the world can be tricky.

Click here to read why Cultural Competence is so Important in International Business

Photo by Magnet.me on Unsplash

2. Learn About Other Cultures

The online world is jam-packed full of cultural information. If you regularly mix with other cultures, then start learning about them.

You should aim to understand their cultural values and the way in which their values influence their behaviours.

Our resources include information on most world cultures. Once you start learning, you’ll start to recognise important shared cultural features and differences across our very multicultural globe.

When learning, try to compare your own culture to the cultures you read about. Where are the synergies or differences?

If you were to spend time living in these cultures, then what do you think you might find most challenging, or the most engaging? Consider how you might need to adapt your behaviour to get on in this cultural environment.

3. Respect!

The difference between someone who is culturally competent and someone who is not, is that a culturally competent individual will routinely respect and validate the cultural differences they see around them.

Not only will they understand their own cultural frameworks, but they will make efforts to understand other cultures and to positively validate them.

If you don’t understand why people do what they do and if that places barriers to you validating them, then go back to Step 1 – analyse your reactions and try to work out why you feel as you do. Again, the commitment to self-awareness cannot be overemphasised.

If you routinely engage in these three steps, then you’ll make great progress. As we said at the start, becoming culturally competent is a journey – and a long journey too.

The more we learn about culture, the more we recognise how much more there is to learn. It’s an exciting journey though, full of opportunities for self-discovery and endless ‘a-ha’ moments!

Take a Course on Cultural Competence

Commisceo Cultural Competence Course


If you’re looking to progress your skills and understanding further, then enrol on our comprehensive Cultural Competence online training course.

The course is jam-packed with essential know-how and a downloadable certificate upon successful completion.


Main Photo by Tom Barrett on Unsplash

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