Peer to Peer Magazine

March 2012

The quarterly publication of the International Legal Technology Association

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Page 66 of 103

book review "The twenty-first century world is increasingly global, and the ability to deal with others who are culturally different has become a daily necessity." —Thomas and Inkson, "Cultural Intelligence" Cultural diversity is a major phenomenon of our time. Whether we travel or not, whether we do business across national borders or not, we live globally now. In our workplaces, in our shopping malls and entertainment centers, in our social circles and in our neighborhoods, we are more than likely to encounter people of many cultures and backgrounds. In all settings, it pays to understand how best to get along; but in our professional lives, the stakes are much higher. If cross-cultural challenges of all kinds find us unprepared, we face unexpected difficulties in conducting our business to a successful conclusion. And we may be at a complete loss as to what went wrong or how to fix it. Marshall McLuhan's prediction of a global village has come true with respect to worldwide electronic communications; yet in some respects we are still as far apart as ever. Now, however, the person whose culture we don't understand may be our colleague or client instead of a stranger halfway around the world. Facing the Challenges of Diversity How do we prepare to deal with the many possible kinds of confusion that can arise between people of drastically different backgrounds — or better, avert them in the first place? David C. Thomas and Kerr Inkson say the answer is to raise our cultural intelligence. They call it CQ. In "Cultural Intelligence: Living and Working Globally" (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2009), they define the components of CQ and then show how to develop and practice it in a wide variety of situations, both abroad and right at home. This is not a book that presents exhaustive lists of do's and don'ts, country by country; for that there's a resources section in the back. If we're heading into an interaction with members of a particular society, of course it's a good idea to know their culture's traits, conventions and expected courtesies, and learn which hand gestures never to make. That's the kind of homework we'll want to do in advance. This book is more basic and more general; the authors position it as a starting place to gain cultural awareness that will stand by us in any situation. Attempting to grow our cultural intelligence exhibits a sometimes vexing paradox: to increase our CQ, we must have cross-cultural experiences, but to succeed in those experiences and benefit from them, we need to have CQ. Elements of CQ The solution is to view the process as an iterative one. CQ has three aspects: gaining knowledge, practicing mindfulness and developing skills. We improve our ability to handle ourselves in unfamiliar situations by "a cycle [of] repetition in which each new challenge builds upon previous ones 68 Peer to Peer

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