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Applying Cultural Intelligence to the Holiday Season

Two culturally intelligent perspectives to consider: 


🌐 While those of us in the northern hemisphere transition to colder weather, 12% of the world's population is heading into the peak of summer. 


🌐 As many clients, friends, and family are preparing for the holiday season in both the northern and southern hemispheres, here in Taiwan and much of Greater China we have two months of work as usual before businesses and schools wind down for the Lunar New Year holiday. 


💡 Simple and basic aspects of daily life like weather, work routines, and holidays may seem normal and intrinsic to you, however, it's helpful to remember that another's normal may look very different. 


Being aware of these subtler aspects - of your outlook - is an essential part of Cultural Intelligence (CQ). 


Here's a great question to ask: "Why don't I stop thinking that something different equates to something strange and instead approach it as something interesting? How about I let go of the idea that our way of doing things is the right way - and instead think that it's about different ways of doing things." (from Annette Dahl in her book Global Perspectives)




You don't need to know lots of cultural details and facts to cultivate this. Rather, all you need is curiosity, empathy, and a habit of asking open-ended questions. 


Open-ended questions often begin with the words ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘where’, ‘why’, and ‘how’, and they encourage a longer response and open up discussions. 


🌏 They are especially helpful to use when communicating with team members and clients from cultures that emphasize harmony, respect, and 'saving face' such as Japan, Greater China, Vietnam, and Indonesia. 


Three examples of open-ended questions that allow your team member to answer in their way:


  1. “How do people in your local team usually like to collaborate❓”

  2. "When does your office typically close for a holiday❓" 

  3. “What are your team's thoughts about this method❓”


✨ If you use this way to connect across cultures, you'll create a greater sense of psychological safety for your team and clients and learn much more. 


📸 Photo credit to one of my favorite East-West artists, Tiny Eyes Comics. Through her artwork, the Beijing-born artist shares her experiences of life in Europe as well as her childhood and Chinese culture. 


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