Learn about daily opportunities for curiosity and inquisition.
- Whether you're traveling, working in a culture that's different than yours, or simply interacting with others from different countries, sharpening your cultural acuity skills will serve you well. It will help you adapt more quickly and connect with more people. Even if you're simply traveling to a new location within your home country, these drills will still be valuable. Be informed. I like to play music in the room as people arrive for an all-day training.
When I'm working internationally, I often review local pop charts so that I can use music that's timely and familiar to my audience. If you're planning to visit another country or just traveling across your own country, find out about local cultural events and the latest news. Local newspapers or community magazines are great resources and often can be found on the Internet. Practice the appropriate introduction. If you get the sense that the culture you're in is a doing one where the focus is on job title, and people ask questions such as what do you do soon after they meet you, be sure to introduce yourself accordingly.
In a being culture, profession may not even come up, but rather, where do you come from, or where does your family live. Do not assume English is universal. I've seen English speakers walk up to people on the street and ask a question in English while they're in France. Nine times out of 10, the French person will frown and shake their head, as if they're saying I'm sorry I can't help. While traveling around the world, I've found that the best strategy for communicating in English is to approach with care and ask your host if they speak a little bit of English before you ask a question.
In most cases, people admit that they don't have a good handle, so I approach with care and use very simple terms. And we end up communicating just fine. Use TV as a training tool. If you have access to the television in a new country, watch as much as you can. Watch people's body language. Listen carefully to the intonation of the language. And best, try to figure out what the plot of the movie is, even if you do not understand the words spoken.
If possible, watch a movie on the plane in the language of the country you're visiting, but with your native language subtitles. This will sensitize you to the new language. Finally, if English is the common language, listen to people speaking it and become comfortable with their accents. You might be working in a new office, on a new team, a new country, or all three combined. Regardless, these cultural acuity tips will help you practice skills that will make you more effective in your new environment.