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October 31, 2010 / Astor ICS

International Identity: Communicating Across Every Border

If you are trying to communicate across cultures, countries, genders or even with someone who is exactly like you, it’s crucial to consider how you deliver your message, how you’re understood and what the outcome will be. You can be spontaneous and see what happens, but your spontaneity will have always been based on what you’ve accumulated over the years from conditioning, repetition and unique behaviors and reactions.

Just consider this; you are working in India, no China, no France, no Brazil, no any country at anytime. How do you communicate successfully and accomplish your goals of connecting yourself (the representative of an organization) to colleagues in your host country? the idea here is that there is a type of International identity emerging around the world that you can apply to any condition anywhere and build into it your own personality that can make you agreeable and build professional relationships that bond you to people everywhere.

To put your International Identity in place may take some adjustments but it will bring you not only closer to others, it will reward you with a heightened sense that you are part of a greater whole and that you can contribute everyday to the future when most of the world will be connected in many ways.

Let’s look at the basics of International Identity; what it requires and how it exists.

1. You must be accepting and open to people. We constantly hear about accepting cultures, religions, etc., but it’s people that we communicate with and it’s people that need your attention. It will assist you greatly to point your attention first to the person and their own unique blend of human behaviors.

2. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. By giving yourself the respect that you, a person from a foreign land who can share your talents and abilities, can share, you will have the foundation of respecting others, which is absolutely crucial for clear communication. This isn’t the type of self respect that is narcissistic or self-serving. It’s the kind that cares about people’s well being. If you are a high level executive and you don’t respect those around you, especially those from another country, you will not be long in the land of success.

3. An ability to carefully look at all the little things that make a person or country distinct (different from your country and you) and how they connect with you. We do this by listening very carefully to what is being said and how it is said, and even what the effect is. These distinctions are actually connections that the bridge of appreciation and discussion connects. Most cultural behaviors need to be just accepted, but also understood. connect yourself, not in agreement, but in understanding and kindness.

Once, in Paris, I saw someone bump into someone else and not say, ‘Excusez-moi’. the other person said, ‘Pardon, c’est gratuite’ (Sorry is free). This really stayed with me. The idea that we can always be polite and kind is not just an idea, but a practice. It’s one of the fastest ways of being accepted anywhere. It’s actually part of International identity.

As we move closer and closer together, our cultures won’t just disappear, but we will need to exist side by side. And, believe it or not, it’s the business people who are at the forefront of this exciting new era. They work together with all types of people in all types of places. They have really begun the International Identity ‘movement’. but now it’s everyone who needs to understand this.

Accept, understand, respect and see. It is crucial for success in the international business environment and in the formation of International Identity. You don’t have to be worried if you disagree, argue or even walk away from a discussion if you use these tools. You’ll be fine and always welcomed back.


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