How reflection will boost your effectiveness in international teams

Marianne Slotboom
Dec 16, 2021

Being a team member of international projects or teams, you might be frustrated by the frequent misunderstandings that occur while working across cultures.

If you are wondering how to deal with those differences, this article might give you an important insight.

Investigations of experts on cultural intelligence tell us that reflection results to be a highly effective tool. Reflection is that you stand apart from your experiences to consider the meaning and interpretations of what occurred. Never forget that the diversity of perspectives and viewpoints can be one of the greatest strengths of your team and international projects.

How can reflection help you to become a skillful international team member?

Thinking & reflecting

1.      Start to ruminate on a regular basis on the intercultural experiences you encounter. What happened, how did people respond, what was different from expected? Describe the situation for yourself.

2.      Don’t stop with this description and take some time to explore further on your experiences. One way to explore more deeply is by asking yourself at least five questions, like: What was the point of view of the other team member? How did he/she probably interpret my behavior? What were his/her underlying expectations? How did other people react? Why did they react that way?

3.      Compare your interpretations with what experts have discovered based upon research. You can find information about cultural dimensions on the websites of the following experts:

4.      Dialogue with others, combine your reflections with conversation partners who won’t always agree with you and who don’t see everything the same way.

Conversation & reflecting as a team

5.      Finally, see if you can extrapolate some kind of learning for future use. What possible paths could you take from here? What are some different ways to tackle this kind of situation next time?

Interacting with people from different cultures is an ongoing learning process, as there are no standard answers or solutions. Diversity is also existent within cultures. When you discipline yourself to use reflection as a tool and think deeply before, during and after an intercultural experience, you will improve your cultural intelligence, increase your productivity, and broaden the horizons of yourself and others.

Thanks go to David Livermore of the Cultural Intelligence Center.

Marianne Slotboom
The author
Marianne Slotboom

Marianne is a strategic partner and practical developer of human behavior that helps leaders, teams and organizations become more focused and effective, elevating their value to customers. In 2015, Marianne founded Yellow Training to answer the call for more inspirational and creative leadership in the modern workplace.

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