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Building Cultural Intelligence with Trisha Carter


Back to China

Recently we visited China for an amazing time of reconnection with old friends.  We lived in Hefei, Anhui province in the 90s.  It’s not an expat or tourist city so our friendships were built with local colleagues and their families. 

These are the people who helped me to learn about culture –mine and theirs. 

Over three years of dinners and lunches, special celebrations and everyday life, we talked about families and work, leadership and management, parenting and children’s education, attitudes to money and saving, to health and wellbeing, to supporting family members and aged parents, governments and society, spirituality and religions.

In these conversations, my cultural intelligence was being built before I even knew the term.   

I had moments where my world shifted and I came to see things through different perspectives recognising that much of my knowledge to this point had been based on Western systems and research.

It has been amazing to reconnect twenty years later - in the same place, in person, and see the commonalities that still exist as we discussed work, (stressors, mergers, market changes, organisational adaptability) life (health, retirement planning, travels and experiences) and people (family, chidren's study, their partners, weddings and grandchildren). 

From #China to Sydney – some things change and some things stay the same. 


Complexity, Thinking styles and Global Mobility

Deciding to move internationally with your work isn’t easy.  It’s a complex decision. 

There are many factors to consider and organise.  Personal, family, and wellbeing factors combine with career and travel opportunities.  Those of us who have moved globally recognise the complexity of these factors. Balancing a great career move for one partner may significantly impact on the career of the other, or the education of the children, or the safety or wellbeing of the family.

Those who are organising and facilitating the moves also recognise the complexity of these factors.  HR and Global Mobility professionals work to keep abreast of changing international situations alongside an assignee’s needs.

I spoke about this complexity recently at a global conference (#FIGT2019 inBangkok) and about the thinking styles that are most suited to working with complexity. The attendees represented many of these groups –those who move, those who arrange the moves and those who support and advise in the transition.

We discussed the patterns of thinking we each naturally preferred and how they fitted into the complexity framework

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Malala Yousafzai: ‘Even the darkest of acts are capable of bringing great light’

Over an amazing evening in Sydney, my daughter, goddaughter and I, listened to the wisdom and courage of Malala Yousafzai.  I captured a few of her thoughts – I hope they inspire you as much as they did us.



On her work for girls’ education:

 ‘Our voices are our most powerful weapons’

 ‘I stand up for 130 million girls who are not in school, who are not receiving an education - because

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What do you really think about rules?

Last year I wrote about cultural differences that can be difficult to adapt to – focusing at that time on the differences in Power and Status. 

Another area that can cause difficulty is attitudes to Rules and Laws and how we think they should - or shouldn't - apply.

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Cross Cultural Communication - what about it?

After a recent workshop on Misunderstandings, Misperceptions, Missed Opportunities - the Challenges of Cross-Cultural Communication – I felt like I had just scratched the surface with a multi-lingual, multi-national, multicultural group. I would have loved to have the time to unpick the topic further with them all - so decided to explore it further via this blog.  

Yes, culture can interfere with communication in many ways. The misunderstandings, misperceptions and missed opportunities are real.

On reflection, I told myself that they already knew that – if not explicitly in relation to all the things we discussed, but they knew that intuitively. They had felt that in the different places they had lived, worked and built relationships; the boardrooms, schoolrooms, staff rooms, lunch rooms, living rooms, shops and cafes you’ve frequented. 

What do we do about it? 

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