An individual or an organization that is able to interact with other cultures effectively is known to possess the skills of cross-cultural competence. These skills are said to be on a higher form or higher level of human or group ability since the interaction takes place in a global scope. Cross-cultural competence is a set of behaviors, values, and policies that may be developed at an individual level, in a system, or organizational level with the ability to constructively interact and work effectively across cultures and in diverse cultural situations.
At an individual level, cultural competence requires three crucial concepts: cultural awareness, cultural knowledge, and cross-cultural skills. It takes more than knowing and being aware of the cultural diversities and possessing the necessary skills. When one is culturally competent, there is this deeper level of assessing one’s cultural assumptions, prejudices, values, and beliefs. It takes on an affective level where the individual is able to view the world through another person’s eyes or understands that other people may perceive the world through different perspectives. A culturally competent individual veers away from ethnocentric attitude, shows increased flexibility and openness, and exercises non-judgmental viewpoints.
At an organizational level, cross-cultural competence is observed in every member of the team or the group and seen in all levels of the hierarchy. Competency must be revealed or reflected in an organization’s mission, policies, practices, advocacy, and philosophy. Moreover, it must also be shown through active involvement in the larger community and partnerships with other organizations.
The increasing importance of having cross-cultural competence both at individual and organizational levels is now evident throughout many fields and industries. This article will identify three examples of where cultural competence is highly regarded and observed.
Cross-Cultural Competence in Academic Institutions
Although most of person’s learning insights would come from first-hand experiences, academic learning and educational institutions still play a crucial role in the teaching of the basic knowledge and general awareness of a lot of things. We have learned that before becoming fully culturally competent, we need to acquire cultural awareness and knowledge. These concepts we will learn not only through experience but in the academic field.
Our instructors will feed us with the required knowledge before embarking on a realistic experience. Students get to practice cultural competence in schools where they are bound to mingle with schoolmates who come from different ethnical backgrounds. In the same way, the academic staff such as teachers and instructors will also learn to develop cross-cultural competence when handling a class of diverse cultures. This is very true in an international academic institution. Effective cultural awareness and knowledge in this field will prepare the students in more dynamic and broader aspects after education.
Cross-Cultural Competence in the Healthcare Industry
The healthcare industry is now becoming more and more challenged as cultural diversity continually increases in the population. Cultural differences create an impact on how individuals utilize health and social services. Lack of cultural knowledge and competence may even pose a barrier to giving effective healthcare service. For example, some medical experts or healthcare practitioners tend to stereotype, make false assumptions, or do not deal well with patients or people who have different cultural background and experiences.
People who are in the healthcare industry must learn how to be sensitive in their dealings with individuals across cultures. They need to adjust and adapt to patients who come from different countries of origin or ethnical background. When this is achieved, a person specializing in the healthcare aspect can be considered a culturally effective health care individual.
Cross-Cultural Competence in Global Business and Employment Opportunities
The business aspect has a high regard for cross-cultural competence especially when the company operates at a global level where business is conducted not only within the domestic arena but also with other countries worldwide. Apart from joining international businesses, many people would venture working in other countries to find better employment opportunities. With this situation, they will be immersed in a team of broadly diverse cultural backgrounds.
An individual working in a foreign country must learn how to get along with fellow employees of another cultural orientation or ethnic setting. Interpersonal skills are very important and will work very well when coupled with cross-cultural skills.