Be Culturally-Intelligent

by Patrick Liew on February 28, 2017

To groom Singaporeans to become global citizens, it’s important to develop cultural intelligence and ability to operate in any overseas market and for that matter, in any local market segment that is culturally unfamiliar to them.

In an increasingly interconnected and interdependent world, they need to know how to connect and communicate with the others in the global community.

They must have the sensitivity and competence to collaborate and co-create solutions with people who subscribe to a different creed and custom and are from a different culture, community, and country.

The key starting point to being culturally intelligent is to avoid adopting an ethnocentric mindset.

Stop believing that your objectives, perspective, and way of doing things are better than others.

It includes making judgments about the other party’s behavior based on your own past experience, self-conception, and aspiration.

What works for you locally may not necessarily succeed overseas because of societal and other differences.

Therefore, it’s important to have a culturally-open mindset. A healthy tolerance for and sensitivity to cross-cultural differences.

Be mindful that when you commit yourself to learn about and adapt to other culture, it will enrich your life.

In addition, it can also help you develop appropriate bridges to other people and profit from the relationships and other resources on a global level.

To be culturally empathetic – and not be culturally-blinded – it’s important to conduct vigorous research, especially about relevant cultural differences and how to leverage on them for worthwhile purposes.

Be humble to enquire about and learn how to operate in accordance to new and unfamiliar cultural cues, expectations and customs.

If need be, go “back to basics” and hire a assistant who understands the local culture to help you work more effectively with foreigners and in new settings.

By promoting culturally intelligence, it can foster greater tolerance, trust and harmony between people and among nations.


I hope this message will find a place in your heart.

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

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