Frequently Asked Questions

Why is cross cultural competency essential to effective development?

Can you give me a list of cross cultural do's and don'ts?

What makes a person a good cross cultural worker?

Do you offer a summary 2 hour or half day workshop?


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Why is cross cultural competency essential to effective development?

Download our brochure outlining the reasons why it may help you

Can you give me a list of cross cultural do's and don'ts?

"Complex interactions can’t be managed using a 'phrasebook'. There's no 'lonely planet' guide to cross cultural work. To try and simplify it could do more harm than good.

That is because cross cultural training is not just the do's and don'ts for a specific culture. Papua New Guinea for example, is the most linguistically diverse country on the planet with over 850 language groups prior to European contact. Eeach language group has variations of expression and all cultures change constantly in response to their environment. To learn about cultures we need to live them.

Wanting a clear solution is part of our cultural boundedness – Western individualism values absolute truths and clear rational explanations for phenomena. Part of the cross cultural journey is recognizing that in non-Western cultures such as PNG, these truths are shifting and relative. Reality is always subject to our own experience and interpretation. However this does not mean we cannot find key values to guide us.

The current best thinking and practice about effective intercultural work is:

  • We are all culturally bounded.
  • All cultures are rule governed - they tell us how to do things, make sense of the world through rules.
  • Most of these rules that drive our behaviour (our values) are unconscious or unexplained.
  • When things don't make sense we tend to see the other person's way f doing things as 'deficient' because it is different. But of course its not - it just is governed by different rules.
  • By surfacing our underlying assumptions, values, expectations, beliefs and stereotypes, we can be more aware of how we interpret others actions and how we see our own.

jack elly

colour pagebreakWhat makes a person a good cross cultural worker?

Cross cultural competence is defined variously to include:

  • Sensitivity to differences
  • Self-awareness and strength in one's own core values while recognising others as equally valid. While being flexible and adaptable, not losing yourself.
  • Questioning the assumptions we and others make so as to find out why things are done a certain way.
  • Flexibility - in our responses to unexpected or unexplained experiences.
  • Adaptability - being able to change what we do to suit the context, try new ways.
  • Clarity about one's own motivations, values, expectations and preferences for ways of doing things.
  • Commitment to ongoing reflective learning and applying this to practice.
  • Accepting change.
  • Mutual exchange of cultural views.
  • Self-efficacy - the confidence to problem solve within the specific environment.
  • Taking responsibility for our own actions - not blame shifting.
  • The capability to work both independently and individualistically and also operate in highly collectivist teams and contexts where behaviours are constrained by powerful social norms.
  • Having a range of tools that work for you.
  • Some awareness of the history and politics of the context in which you are operating and willingness to learn more.
  • An approach that is non-judgmental and promotes equity and participation.
  • Recognition of people's rights to self-determination

jack boo

colour pagebreakDo you offer a summary 2 hour or half day workshop?

CCC's training is transformative learning – it is not content driven but process and relationship driven. Through engaging with each other and the materials, participants have the chance to extend their frame of reference.

The optimum amount of time to do this effectively – whatever the context – is 2 days.

We also provide a handbook with over 50 pages of readings and resources including a whole lot of 'tips' but they are placed in the context of our model for understanding cultural difference and qualified by a range of factors.

The handbook is there to support face to face or other modes of learning – not as a stand along document. Our website is currently being updated and will in future include an online forum and learning opportunities for people to further explore these issues.