I love cultural differences

Strength lies in differences, not in similarities  – Stephen Covey

I love working with people from different cultural backgrounds. It gives me the opportunity to get to know myself better and it gives me the opportunity to understand the other better. It is like discovering a new landscape, it is always a very exciting journey. In our workshop we discover and rediscover the mental and cultural maps of each other so to stimulate intercultural sensitivity.
Looking at what we have in common and in what ways we differ from each other and this at different levels, cultural and the personal.

Replaying what has been said during the workshop I realized that we were actually discussing the phenomena of fixed mindset versus growth mindset on a cultural level. Some people tend to view themselves as more fixed and unchanging regardless of the situation while other people see themselves as more dynamic and changing with the situation.
People with a more fixed mindset tend to think “I am who I am” and “They are who they are” no matter what the situation is versus people who have more of a growth mindset focus on the situation, people can act very differently depending on the situation.

“What sets the world in motion is the interplay of differences.”  – Octavio Paz

For many people with a growth mindset cultural background it can be quite a confrontation meeting people with a more fixed mindset, and vice versa.

Your mindset influences your interpretation of certain situations.

For just a few seconds image the following:
“a man is running late for work and declines to give a homeless man some money”

  • How would you interpret this situation?
    The man is selfish (characteristic of the man as the cause of the behavior, fixed mindset)
  • The man was in a rush because they had to go to work (situational factor as the cause of the behavior, growth mindset
How do you interpret different culture behavoir?

When you enter a culture where it is not a custom to engage in or spent extensive time in greeting eachother, do you see this as:

  • These people are so cold and are not interested in me
  • These people have a very tight schedule

After living abroad for a long time and returning back to Belgium I was struck by the phenomenon of overemphasis personality factors rather than the situational factors to explain someone’s behavior.

Such things we discussed in and reflect upon in our workshops and this is how we stimulate Intercultural Sensitivity:

  • Would you describe your culture as a fixed or growth mindset?
  • Would you describe yourself as having a fixed or growth mindset?

If you have a growth mindset is it harder for you to work in a fixed mindset environment and vice versa?
Would you like to test your intercultural sensitive for FREE, click here.

By Sarah Neirinckx


IT IS NOT ALL BAD: about diversity & innovation

The changing reality

​The world is changing faster than our ways of thinking. While I was raised in an almost entirely monocultural setting myself, my kids will have a different story to tell. They have travelled the world with us from Belgian to Africa, to Asia and back to Belgium.  Back in Belgium they enter public schools where in many cases diversity is a given. When using public transport in my city, diversity is all around.

Model: Chantelle Winnie              Photograph: Mary Rozzi for the Observer

While science shows that socially diverse groups (that is, those with a diversity of race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation) are more innovative than homogeneous groups, we are not making good use of this opportunity.

Most of us will agree that a group of people with diverse individual expertise would be better than a homogeneous group at solving complex, nonroutine problems. Yet most of us will find it more tricky when applying the same statement to social diversity —yet the science shows that it does.
Diversity is the key to creativity. Not just diversity in your workforce, but in your social and personal life. Simply interacting with individuals who are different forces us to prepare better, to anticipate alternative viewpoints and to expect that reaching consensus will take effort.
Here are 4 tips that will help you deal with diversity.

Tips & tricks

1. Recognize & welcome cultural differences:  That’s one step in the right direction to create an environment of tolerance and understanding.
2. Tackle conflict and build a common culture Learn to handle conflicts. Among diverse groups, whether of age, geography or cultural background, conflict will arise and you must become skilled in dealing with it.

3. Communicate regularly with others to unify 
Sharing thoughts, feelings and rationale will help unify people from different backgrounds. Being upfront about the situation and involving people as much as possible in decision making engenders a sense of inclusion and will ensure everyone feels part of the same team.

4. Set an example
Start with yourself! Set an example in intercultural dialogue!

By  Sarah Neirinckx