OCENET Tip Sheet #3:



“the broad competencies – the skills, knowledge and attitudes – and the more specific behavioural traits possessed by an interculturally effective person.” (from A Profile of the Interculturally Effective Person, p.5)



  1. Adaptation Skills

    • cope with culture shock and challenges of a new culture
    • beyond coping, enjoy enriching experiences in the host culture
    • without abandoning core principles, behave somewhat differently in the host culture than at home in order to gain more acceptance in the new culture
  2. An attitude of modesty and respect

    • show respect in attitude and behaviour towards the local culture
    • avoid drawing attention to themselves
    • demonstrate self-confidence to take initiative and promote change where called for
  3. An understanding of the concept of culture

    • aware of how culture affects all people and societies
    • understand how the influence of one’s own cultural conditioning and how those values may cause problems in the host culture
  4. Knowledge of the host country and culture

    • show desire to learn about the host culture
    • possess knowledge of the history, geography, social mores, customs and socio-economic conditions, etc., of the host country
    • demonstrate knowledge of political processes of the country and understanding of organizational and management practices
  5. Relationship Building

    • socialize harmoniously with host nationals
    • help people of diverse cultures work together productively
  6. Self-knowledge

    • understand one’s own culture and how it has shaped thinking, feeling and reacting to people and events
    • know personal strengths and weaknesses about adjusting to a new culture overseas
    • recognize and manage personal reactions to ambiguity
    • understand personal work styles
  7. Intercultural Communication

    • communicate thoughts, opinions and expectations in an understandable yet culturally sensitive way
    • participate in the local culture and language without fear of making mistakes
    • establish shared meanings with local people so both foreigners and the local people understand what is said in the same way
    • possess sufficient knowledge of the local language to show interest towards the local people
    • develop empathy, not just an intellectual understanding, of how the local people view the world
  8. Organizational Skills

    • strive for balance between the need to adapt behaviour to local norms (“when in Rome…) and the need to maintain one’s own cultural identity and values (avoiding “going native…”)
    • develop professional networks locally, nationally, and internationally
    • build consensus to reconcile the perspectives of differing cultures to mutually share cultures in achieving a goal
  9. Personal and Professional Commitment

    • desire to contribute to the local community
    • awareness of the purpose, motivations, and expectations of being overseas

*adapted from A Profile of the Interculturally Effective Person, The Centre for Intercultural Learning, Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

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