Peer to Peer Magazine

March 2012

The quarterly publication of the International Legal Technology Association

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until cultural intelligence is ultimately achieved." And the place to begin is right where we are, with knowledge of what's closest to home. The indispensable foundation, say Thomas and Inkson, is recognition of the features of our own culture. What assumptions and expectations are so ingrained in us that we don't even notice them, thinking instead that this is just the way things ought to be? Those are going to get us in trouble when we have to deal with people who bring a different set of assumptions and expectations with them. "Of all measures of cultural variation," say the authors, "individualism and collectivism are the most useful and powerful." This dimension affects how members of the group see themselves and how they relate to others, which in turn influence group process and especially decision making. A member of a collectivist society, for example, is likely to be a far less aggressive and competitive negotiator than an individualist — and may also have ways of saying "no" that sound like "yes" to less subtly attuned ears. A Cultural Map Other cultural values that play a critical part in human interactions include assertiveness, egalitarianism and uncertainty avoidance. Countries and societies can be mapped on such dimensions; the authors present the results of several important studies and include diagrams that compare cultures on key variables. Seeing where we fall in relation to others is an important step in heightening our cultural awareness. As we move toward mastery of the elements of CQ, we learn to: • Stop thinking that others should be like us • Turn off cultural cruise control that causes us to behave in automatic ways even in novel situations • Pick up on cues in each situation that point the way toward more effective interchanges What sorts of interchanges those might be span the gamut from flying without setting off security alarms with the use of offhand foreign slang to making ethical decisions in a multinational corporate setting. In four chapters, Thomas and Inkson apply the previously defined principles of CQ to the areas of decision making, communicating and negotiating, leadership, and working with multicultural groups. The virtual team, an increasingly common work group model thanks to communications technologies, comes in for special mention, with some suggestions for how to overcome Meredy Amyx is a an editor and writer with three decades of experience in high-tech in the heart of Silicon Valley, where multiculturalism is a fact of everyday life. She has worked on teams with members across the U.S. and in Canada, Ireland and India. A member of the Bay Area Editors' Forum and an active member of the South Bay Branch of California Writers Club, she can be reached at editor@meredyamyx.com. The North American leader of a multicultural planning team finds a creative sparring partner in his Western European teammate, but their Latin American colleague is horrified at her aggressiveness, and the Asian team member worries about the group's lack of harmony. Can these mismatched co-workers pull together to create an advertising campaign? the difficulties of working with a team dispersed over wide distances. For all team structures, the authors urge attention to group process as well as to group tasks and explain how to meet these management challenges. Changing Our Perspective Problems in communication underlie a significant proportion of perceived difficulties in business, as elsewhere. Those problems are compounded when the parties involved do not share the same codes and conventions, and the results can be both painful and costly. Culture is the primary source of those codes and conventions. Using plentiful case examples drawn from a global sampling of cultures with markedly different traits, the authors take pains to show us both sides — or all sides — of each potential or actual misunderstanding. Imagining ourselves in the place of those whose values are less familiar to us is a great first step toward attaining cultural intelligence. As the authors remind us, "cultural intelligence is not developed through mere exposure to other cultures but requires conscious effort." For the steps that come second, third and fourth, the concepts in "Cultural Intelligence" point the way. Peer to Peer 69

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