Sights on Success Consulting refers to and uses the following terms in our program design and facilitation including assessment and feedback, leadership coaching, and workshops. Unless otherwise stated, the reference source is the SAGE Encyclopedia of Intercultural Competence. Ed. Janet M. Bennett, 2015.
- Intercultural Competence
Intercultural Competence can be defined as the capability to shift one’s cultural perspective and appropriately adapt behaviour to cultural differences and commonalities.
It has also been defined as “the appropriate and effective management of interactions between people who, to some degree or another, represent different or divergent affective, cognitive, and behavioral orientations to the world.” (Spitzberg and Chagnon, 2009)
- Intercultural Competence Development
Intercultural Competence Development is a key capability for working and living effectively with people from different cultures, critical in achieving diversity and inclusion goals within organizations, essential for reducing ethnocentrism and bias among people, and central to building productive and positive relations both within one’s own culture/country and internationally. Additionally, intercultural competence is identified in workplace surveys as one of the top 10 skills needed for leaders and employees in the 21st century.
- Intercultural Development Continuum
The Intercultural Development Continuum (IDC TM) describes orientations towards cultural differences and commonalities that are arrayed along a continuum from the more monocultural mindsets of Denial and Polarization through the transitional orientation of Minimization to the intercultural or global mindsets of Acceptance and Adaptation. The capability of deeply shifting cultural perspective and bridging behaviour across cultural differences is most fully achieved when one maintains an Adaptation perspective. This continuum is adapted from the Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity originally proposed by Milton Bennett.
- Intercultural Development Inventory
The Intercultural Development Inventory® (IDI®) assesses intercultural competence—the capability to shift cultural perspective and appropriately adapt behaviour to cultural differences and commonalities. The Intercultural Development Inventory is a 50-item questionnaire available online that can be completed in 15–20 minutes. The Intercultural Development Inventory has been psychometrically tested and found to possess strong validity and reliability across diverse cultural groups. This validity includes predictive validity within both the corporate and educational sectors. The IDI has been rigorously tested and has cross-cultural generalizability, both internationally and with domestic diversity. Psychometric scale construction protocols were followed to ensure that the IDI is not culturally biased or susceptible to social desirability effects (i.e., individuals cannot “figure out” how to answer in order to gain a higher score).
Culture is learned; not innate. It is something shared among people, not unique to one person. It is also a system of interconnected assumptions, expectations, behaviours, and more. When one thing changes, other parts of the cultural system will be affected. Culture is largely outside of one’s conscious awareness if one has not lived or worked with people whose cultural backgrounds (assumptions, expectations, web of connections, etc.) are significantly different from one’s own. No one knows the culture; at best, one knows something from the experience afforded by a particular perspective.
- Subjective Culture
Subjective Culture refers to the elements of culture contained within the subjective, internal experience of individuals (e.g., values, beliefs).
- Objective Culture
Objective Culture, in contrast, includes aspects of culture that have an independent existence (e.g., artifacts, institutions). It is found in the products of human activities, including tangible, physical objects (clothing, tools) as well as systems that influence individuals but are not fully understood by them (gender systems, kinship systems).
- Culture Specific and Culture General
Culture Specific and Culture General refer to two complementary types of knowledge and skills that help people understand other cultures and function effectively in them. Culture-specific approaches encourage deep understanding of one cultural context through detailed cultural knowledge. Culture-general approaches organize culture-specific data in ways that facilitate cross-cultural comparison and generalizability of knowledge. Each emphasizes the development of a different kind of understanding.
Diversity refers to the variety of differences and similarities/dimensions among people, such as gender, race/ethnicity, tribal/Indigenous origin, age, culture, generation, religion, class/caste, language, education, geography, nationality, disability, sexual orientation, work style, work experience, job role and function, thinking style, and personality type.
The policy or practice of accounting for the differences in each individual’s starting point when pursuing a goal or achievement, and working to remove barriers to equal opportunity, as by providing support based on the unique needs of individual students or employees.
Inclusion refers to how diversity is leveraged to create a fair, equitable, healthy, and high-performing organization or community where all individuals are respected and feel engaged and motivated, and where their contributions towards meeting organizational and societal goals are valued.
Accessibility can be viewed as the “ability to access” and benefit from some system or entity. The concept focuses on enabling access for people with disabilities or enabling access through the use of assistive technology; however, research and development in accessibility brings benefits to everyone.
“Accessible” means a person with a disability is afforded the opportunity to acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services as a person without a disability in an equally effective and equally integrated manner, with substantially equivalent ease of use. The person with a disability must be able to obtain the information as fully, equally and independently as a person without a disability.
- Truth and Reconciliation
There were 140 federally run residential schools in Canada that operated between 1867 and 1996. Survivors advocated for recognition and reparations and demanded accountability for the intergenerational impacts of harms caused. Their efforts culminated in:
- The Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement
- Apologies by the government
- the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
- the creation of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission ran from 2008 to 2015 and provided those directly or indirectly affected by the legacy of the residential schools’ policy with an opportunity to share their stories and experiences. The Commission released its final report detailing 94 calls to action. The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a direct response to Call to Action 80, which called for a federal statutory day of commemoration.
The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation has become the permanent archive for the statements, documents and other materials the Commission gathered. Its library and collections, as well as its National Student Memorial Register, are the foundation for ongoing learning and research.
- Intercultural Competence and Truth and Reconciliation
Professional Development and Training for Public Servants
Call to Action 57. We call upon federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments to provide education to public servants on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal-Crown relations. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competence, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.
Business and Reconciliation
Call to Action 92. We call upon the corporate sector in Canada to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a reconciliation framework and to apply its principles, norms, and standards to corporate policy and core operational activities involving Indigenous peoples and their lands and resources. This would include, but not be limited to, the following:
iii. Provide education for management and staff on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal-Crown relations. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competence, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.
Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action
16. Cultural Safety
Cultural safety addresses the influence of structural inequalities and power dynamics on communication that occurs between people who belong to socially and politically dominant groups in society and those who belong to more marginalized groups. The social and political conditions that are relevant to specific groups of people and their cultural traditions are also viewed as important in cultural safety. Cultural safety is manifested when people can access services, receive care, or enter into collaborative relationships without feelings of alienation or inferiority. A person’s communication and practices may only be deemed culturally safe by the recipients of the care, services, or partnerships.
Intercultural Communication. A Canadian Perspective. Elizabeth Suen and Barbara A. Suen. Canadian Scholars, 2019.
17. Cultural Humility
An intriguing aspect of cultural humility is its transferability to experience from one culture to another. Having questioned the primacy of their own culture and having understood the validity of another person’s culture, those with cultural humility often enter a new cultural setting in a learning mode, listening to verbal communication and watching nonverbal expressions for the cultural and noncultural substantive differences.
People who practise cultural humility most likely do not make assumptions about their ability to understand another automatically. Rather, they likely assume that they might be ignorant of what is really being communicated and, therefore, ask questions intended to clarify what was actually meant and expected.
Cultural humility means making physical and verbal approaches in a humble manner, allowing hosts to direct individuals in adapting their behaviour. A perspective based on cultural humility allows people to acknowledge that the potential for miscommunication and misunderstanding is great and this reality must be continually respected.
Although empathy plays a central role in most of one’s communication with others, it is particularly necessary, although more difficult, in interaction with those whose values, beliefs, and behaviours are different from one’s own…. Through relational empathy, communicators with different cultural backgrounds can create a more inclusive culture that allows them to interact with one another more effectively…
Relational empathy promotes a synthesis of perspectives. Instead of giving up a position on issues, forging compromises in individual views, or finding common ground in disparate positions, the goal is to move from the separate positions of individual communicators to a synthesizing position that incorporates relevant aspects of each position… individual perspectives expand to include the viewpoints of the other…
As individuals interact across cultural boundaries, relational empathy allows individuals to listen to one another respectfully, continually reflecting and seeking more information as part of a dialogic process… mental models that divide parties can be stretched in such a way that a new world is created in which individuals and groups can coexist and work together on multiple levels.
19. Intercultural curiosity
Intercultural curiosity is the desire or inclination to know or learn about people who are culturally different and their cultures. Individuals who possess high levels of curiosity or inquisitiveness about other cultures are more apt to be successful when they find themselves living and working abroad or working in their native country with people who come from culturally diverse backgrounds. Some scholars argue that curiosity is the most important of all interpersonal competencies that are associated with global leadership and intercultural effectiveness, because it serves as a foundational competency or “glue” that either triggers or sustains the strength of all intercultural competencies.
One sub-component of intercultural curiosity is relationship interest. This is the extent to which people exhibit interest in, and awareness of, their social environment. People high in relationship interest are curious about others with whom they interact and thus strive to understand the kind of people they are. It involves curiosity specifically about people who differ culturally from the individual and is not the same as curiosity about cultural differences in history, cuisine, the arts, or sports. Relationship interest has been shown to predict foreign language acquisition and cross-cultural management skills on the part of expatriates.