What is Intercultural Effectiveness?

We tend to think of our basic beliefs as human nature, or common sense, when in fact we've learned them as a result of belonging to groups of people who have influenced us. When living and working in foreign locations, our reflex is to interpret and understand local ways of being through our own cultural references. This interpretation can be quite misleading, and in certain cases, cause irreparable damage to relationships upon which the success of projects rest.

The goal of intercultural effectiveness is to minimise the risk of failure and enhance both the individual's and the organization's chances of success in an international environment.

The Interculturally Effective Person

Simply stated, an interculturally effective person is someone who is able to live contentedly and work successfully in another culture. Taken a little further, the interculturally effective person has three main attributes:

  • an ability to communicate with people of another culture in a way that earns their respect and trust
  • the capacity to adapt his/her professional skills (both technical and managerial) to fit local conditions and constraints
  • the capacity to adjust personally so that s/he is content and generally at ease in the host culture

The Centre for Intercultural Learning has researched and identified a very specific set of competencies and behaviours exhibited by an interculturally effective person. These are outlined and explained in the Profile of the Interculturally Effective Person (IEP). The Profile provides a comprehensive behaviour-based outline of the skills, knowledge and attitudes required for successfully living and working in another culture.

Learn more about the IEP