5 Steps to Control Your Cultural Programming

Learning to control your cultural programming

In the last few mini-lessons we’ve described some of the large or macro dimensions of culture that can lead to misunderstandings, such as expectations around time and formality.

In each lesson, we explained that it’s necessary to learn to control your automatic reactions when you’re interacting with a person from another culture who behaves in a way that conflicts with your cultural programming.

However, “control your reactions” is easy to say, but can be extremely difficult to do! Our cultural programming is very deep in our subconscious, and learning to respond effectively and appropriately in intercultural situations is a process that lasts for a lifetime.

So today we’re going to give you a set of steps that you can use in any situation, while you continue the process of developing your own intercultural competence and cultural self-awareness.

 

5 Steps to Control Your Cultural Programming

When you are in a cross-cultural situation and the other person doesn’t behave as you expect:

1. Stop.
2. Recognise what is happening and how you are feeling.
3. Take 1–3 slow breaths (this is a very effective way to calm yourself down).
4. Observe the simple facts of what is happening.
5. Respond to the facts and not your interpretation (your emotional
reaction).

 

Practice these steps. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to follow them perfectly right away. Learning to control your deep automatic reactions takes time. But the payoff — the benefit — is worth the effort.

When you are able to control your automatic reactions in cross-cultural situations, you will more easily establish trust and grow strong relationships with colleagues and clients from other cultures.

Remember that in cross-cultural situations, the other person’s behavior is usually not personal … it’s cultural.

 

(We can help you develop this cultural self-awareness: drop us an email to learn how.)

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3 STEPS TO SUCCESSFUL CROSS-CULTURAL BUSINESS NEGOTIATION

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