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I’ve found ten key ways to raise your Cultural IQ. Here are the first five.
1- Decide to be curious and interested in learning about other cultures, and really understanding diversity in new ways.
This means you’re willing to take a risk, observe other people’s behaviors and ask questions in appropriate ways. If you’re not interested or willing to view situations from another perspective, it won’t matter how many countries you visit, or diversity potlucks you attend.
2-Develop an awareness of self in relation to others
Identify specific ways in which your own cultural background, and experiences have influenced your perspective, and how other people’s behaviors are determined by their culture and experience. Look for differences and similarities. Be mindful of the fact that not every person from a particular culture thinks the same, and that there are differences based on generations, economics, etc. and other diversity dimensions.
3- Make your mind a clean slate. When you are observing other cultures, do so from a learning, and objective mindset. If you find yourself being judgmental, do a thought intervention. Reframe your inner conversation by thinking, “That’s interesting. I want to know more.” This also means being extra conscious of your own biases, and the need to make people who do things differently wrong.
4- Gain an awareness of your biases towards other cultures, and traditions, and learn and practice ways to break away from those biases. Awareness without action keeps people culturally ignorant.
5- Put yourself in situations with people from other cultures, and practice the other four tools.