Google can teach you anything you want to know about any place in any corner of the world. BUT, the intricacies of communicating with the people in any place in any corner of the world cannot be read. It must be practiced. That is exactly what Global Coach Center’s Culture Mastery 4C’s Course allowed me to do.
As someone who not only comes from an international background, but has also dedicated her career to helping others benefit from the novelties of the world beyond one’s own national borders, I needed the Culture Mastery 4C’s Course to elevate myself and my clients to the next level of cultural leadership.
In August, I joined the Culture Mastery 4C’s Course where I participated in four 90-minute live seminars and six hours of self-paced learning. I was happy to discover that these seminars were incredibly interactive and allowed for hands-on practice whenever possible.
The course is based on the Culture Mastery 4C’s Process, with each day’s seminar honing in on one of the 4C’s.
Although I’m not an ICF coach, many coaches opt to take this course to receive the twelve ICF credits.
Joined by other participants of various nationalities and cultural backgrounds, breakout room exercises and conversations were rife with seasoned experiences across the globe.
Upon reflecting with my fellow Culture Mastery 4C’s Course participants, we’ve revealed 5 key takeaways from the course.
With culture, personality, and experience varying drastically between individuals, how could we possibly view things the way they are? Our reality of the world is only our perceived reality, and that will always be different for different individuals.
Humans are wired to view and interpret situations first through their individual cultural lens. We develop our cultural lens through the following: where we grew up, education, religion, native or learned languages, age, gender, and many, many more. Various cultural lenses create the kind of diverse environment that incubates innovation, but it can also be daunting and messy without proper training.
Our perception of the way things should be done is never inherently understood or followed by all. This creates conflict between individuals. The more different the individuals, the bigger the gap of perception, and the bigger the conflict.
The Culture Mastery 4C’s Course not only enlightened my understanding of myself and my perception of the world, but also how to navigate those gaps of perception. As a result, I feel confident in my ability to interact with others in a manner that respects and welcomes a myriad of “the way things should be done around here.”
The first step to becoming a cross-cultural ninja is owning your own cultural profile. Until we understand our own preferences and deep-seated values, we cannot accurately assess misunderstandings with someone of a different culture. Owning your culture is not always easy. There are often even many surprises– good and bad. This is because cultural programming runs deeper than you realize.
When asked what she was surprised by during the course, one German participant said, “how ingrained my German roots are in some of the [cultural] dimensions even after so many years of living and working in the U.S.”
It is only once we understand and accept ourselves–the good, the bad, the surprising– that we are able to even begin to understand and accept others. This is cultural leadership.
No, I’m not talking about the selection at your local farmer’s market. I’m actually referring to different cultural preferences.
Those who identify as more of a peach are regarded as “soft” on the outside and with a hard pit on the inside. In other words— friendly to people they have just met, share information easily with others, and exude a smiley demeanor to all. However, once past the initial friendliness, there is a very private self that is reserved for few people.
Those who identify as more of a coconut are perceived as “hard” on the outside and sweet on the inside. The coconuts of the world are rarely caught smiling at strangers, do not share personal information with people they have just met, and keep to themselves for the most part. However, if you are lucky enough to crack past this tough exterior, you will experience the sweet inside that is extended to close friends and family.
Though individuals tend to identify as either a peach or a coconut, and we all know which we’d rather spend a day with if we had to, one is not inherently better than the other. In other words, regardless of where you land on any given cultural spectrum, it is not “good” or “bad”, it is simply you. And that is a beautiful thing.
Culture, like different kinds of fruit, should not only be seen as valid, but celebrated because we have more kinds of delicious fruit on the table!
It is important to understand when and where to put your coach hat on versus your consultant hat. Rather than aim to provide strategies and solutions to your client’s problems, a coach must simply remain curious and inquisitive. The coach’s role is not to impose a narrative, but to guide the client on the journey to reveal his/her own.
As instinctual as it is for us to view situations through our personal lens, the coach must take a step back and approach the client’s journey from a place of curiosity. This practice becomes instinctual through the coach’s own awareness of his/her cultural profile. Thanks to the Culture Mastery 4C’s Course, participants are equipped with the skills to do this comprehensively and empathetically.
As the coach’s job is to ask the tough questions, the client’s progress can be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations they’re willing to have. It is in those conversations that the “aha!” moments are born and change can be initiated.
Culture is often compared to an iceberg: the things that you can see/observe (clothes, language, etc.) exist on top of the water while deep-seated values and beliefs are submerged under water and out of sight.
Similarly, the Culture Mastery 4C’s Course provides the opportunity to explore all parts of our cultural profile and cultural leadership style, but it is just the tip of the iceberg. It serves as the starting point of a life-long journey to understand ourselves and others.
Are you ready to begin? Learn more about the Culture Mastery 4C’s Course.
Interested in cultural training? Contact us at Global Business Culture.
Emma is a Cross-Cultural Consultant with Cultural Business Consulting. She is American by citizenship, and has significant experience studying and working in Belgium, Australia, and Japan. Emma is currently based in Honolulu, Hawaii.