Cultural mindfulness helps connect your spirit with those of people from other cultures
iStock photo/Benjavisa

Pareto Principle

Your time and resources are limited. Efficiency means learning to prioritize. The Pareto principle (also called the 80-20 rule) can help you identify the best way to use your time for maximum results.

Country Analysis Framework

Overseas expansion requires careful planning. The Country Analysis Framework can help you look beyond an industry-level analysis and reframe your view based on performance, strategy, and context. Try this short course to learn how it works.

SECI Model

The SECI model illustrates how knowledge is created and shared. Learn how to put it to use for best practices, and how the Japanese concept of “ba” fits in to broaden your perspective.

Johari Window Model

The Johari Window Model is a self-awareness framework that helps you better understand . . . you. Learn how its four quadrants can help you identify gaps between how you see yourself, and how others see you.

Sunk Costs

Wondering if you should continue an investment or look for something new? Sunk costs can have a powerful psychological impact on decision-making. Learn how to recognize them to ensure rational decisions.

CAGE Distance Framework

Want to expand overseas? The CAGE distance framework can help ensure you're constructing a solid global strategy in four areas: cultural, administrative, economic, and geographic. Learn how to leverage useful differences between countries, identify potential obstacles, and achieve global business success.

Groupthink

Groupthink refers to group pressure and the perception of consensus which together lead to ill-formed decisions—or even unnecessary risks. Learn to identify the warning signs of groupthink and apply countermeasures in this online course.

Deductive and Inductive Reasoning

Solving problems with the best results means using two types of thinking: deductive and inductive reasoning. In this online course, learn to form a broad premise, make observations, and form conclusions from different perspectives.

Critical Thinking: Hypothesis-Driven Thinking

Anyone can come up with a good idea. The real challenge is putting that idea into action. In this online course, explore how to form compelling, testable hypotheses and bring ideas to life in your own organization.

Critical Thinking: Structured Reasoning

Even a few simple techniques for logical decision making and persuasion can vastly improve your skills as a leader. Explore how critical thinking can help you evaluate complex business problems, reduce bias, and devise effective solutions.

Critical Thinking: Problem-Solving

Problem-solving is a central business skill, and yet it's the one many people struggle with most. This course will show you how to apply critical thinking techniques to common business examples, avoid misunderstandings, and get at the root of any problem.

How to Dream

Join globally renowned author and Columbia Business School professor Dr. Sheena Iyengar as she explains how to approach your dreams with a new perspective. Learn to reflect on what you long to accomplish and what stands in your way.

Logical Thinking

Logical thinking is at the heart of confident, persuasive decisions. This course will equip you with a five-point approach to more becoming a more logical thinker. Learn to classify ideas and distinguish fact from opinion.

Investing & Diversity: The Changing Faces of Venture Capitalists

Is the venture capital industry embracing diversity in investors? Watch global venture capitalists from around the world discuss the state of things and what needs to be done for a more inclusive future.

Servant Leadership

There's more to leadership than driving a team to profit. In fact, there's a word for looking beyond self-interest to prioritize individual growth: servant leadership. Try this course for a quick breakdown of what that is, how it works, and how it can lead to organizational success.

Organizational Behavior and Leadership

Ever wonder what makes a great leader? Whether your role requires leadership or not, understanding organizational behavior is useful for your career. This course from GLOBIS Unlimited can set you on your way.

Leadership vs. Management

Leadership and management are different skills, but today’s leaders must have both. Try out this course from GLOBIS Unlimited to understand the difference, as well as when and why each skill is necessary for motivation, communication, and value.

Strategy: Creating Value Inside Your Company

Have you ever wondered why certain companies are more successful than others? The answer is strategy: internal processes that control costs, allocate resources, and create value. This course from GLOBIS Unlimited can give you the tools you need for that strategic edge.

Strategy: Understanding the External Environment

To plan strategy on any level, you need to understand your company's external environment. In fact, your level of understanding can impact hiring, budgeting, marketing, or nearly any other part of the business world. Want to learn how to do all that? This course from GLOBIS Unlimited is the perfect first step!

Using Japanese Values to Thrive in Global Business

Japanese companies have unique cultural, communication, and operational challenges. But they also have values that have led to remarkable longevity. Check out this seminar to hear how these values help earn trust from overseas head offices and develop employees.

Turnaround Leadership: The Differences Between Japan and the West

What's the best way for leaders to communicate a shift in corporate strategy? How do you even know when it's time for such a change? This course explains how Japan might have one answer, Western companies another.

Conflict Management

Conflicts in the workplace are inevitable. But they can lead to positive outcomes if they’re managed well. Check out this online course for a two-step process that can help you manage conflict successfully.

Evernote Founder: How Tech Startups Can Break through in Japan

Can startup models from Hollywood and Silicon Valley succeed anywhere? Phil Libin, cofounder and CEO of startup incubator All Turtles, explains how AI can solve everyday problems to bring products to market.

Women Empowerment: Lessons from Cartier

How can women overcome gender inequality and reach their leadership goals? Cartier Japan CEO June Miyachi shares her secret in this special course from GLOBIS Unlimited.

Marketing: Reaching Your Target

Every company works hard to get its products into the hands of customers. Are you doing everything you can to compete? In this course, you’ll find a winning formula to turn a product idea into real sales. Follow along through the fundamentals of the marketing mix and see how companies successfully bring products to market.

Marketing Mix

Seeing good products into the hands of customers is no easy task. The marketing mix can help. It's a collection of strategies and tactics companies utilize to get customers to purchase their products or services, and is an essential part of the overall marketing process.

The Principles of Negotiation

With the proper skills and attitude, anyone can become a successful negotiator.  But first, you'll need to learn the basics to prepare for, assess, and respond to offers for the best results. GLOBIS Unlimited can help.

Negotiation: Creating Value

Want to create more shared value between yourself and your negotiation opponent? Discover how cognitive bias affects the judgment of others. Try this course from GLOBIS Unlimited to master the value of negotiation.

Finding Your Life Purpose with Ikigai

Ikigai can guide you in your quest for self-discovery. Listen to Japanese brain scientist Ken Mogi explain why and how.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Want to leverage Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs as a leader? Try this short course to see how the theory can be applied in practical work scenarios.

Confirmation Bias

We all subconsciously collect information that reinforces our preconceptions. It's natural . . . but it does lead to a kind of flawed decision-making called confirmation bias. To become more objective and impartial, check out this course from GLOBIS Unlimited!

An Investor's Lesson to Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs have the power to transform societies for the better. But how do you attract investors to start or grow a business? Or to sell one? Check out this seminar for the answers to these and more, straight from a master venture capitalist!

Managerial Accounting

Managerial accounting is a powerful way to measure progress, identify problems, and meet your goals. Check out this course to learn how data-backed decisions can help you run your business.

Finance Basics: 1

For a healthy mix of quantitative planning, evaluation, and management, you need solid decision-making. And finance is the secret sauce! Get the essentials of finance in this two-part course from GLOBIS Unlimited.

Basic Accounting: Financial Analysis

Want to compare your performance vs. a competitor? Or evaluate a potential vendor? Then you'll need to conduct a financial analysis. This course will teach you how to use three financial statements and evaluate financial performance in terms of profitability, efficiency, soundness, growth, and overall strength.

Career Anchors

What drives you to be good at your job?

Career anchors are based on your values, desires, motivations, and abilities. They are the immovable parts of your professional self-image that guide you throughout your career journey.

Try this short GLOBIS Unlimited course to identify which of the eight career anchors is yours!

Digital Marketing Psychology to Transform Your Business

How does digital marketing really differ from traditional marketing? How is social media changing things really? And what's going on in Asia?

Pyramid Structure

Having the pyramid structure in your communication toolkit can not only help you approach a problem, but convince others that your solution is valid. Break away from linear thinking and test your logical thinking with this course from GLOBIS Unlimited!

Leadership with Passion through Kokorozashi

The key ingredient to success? Passion.

Finding your kokorozashi will unify your passions and skills to create positive change in society. This GLOBIS Unlimited course will help you develop the values and lifelong goals you need to become a strong, passion-driven leader.

AI First Companies – Implementation and Impact

AI is changing the way companies operate. How do you structure teams to increase efficiency?

Technovate in the Era of Industry 4.0

Is Industry 4.0 is the next step of human evolution human civilization? Dr. Jorge Calvo seems to think so. Join him to learn how the past can help you set goals for an exciting future of digital innovation.

Technovate Thinking

Business leaders of tomorrow need to harness the power of technology and innovation. That means understanding algorithms and how they drive business results. Discover opportunities to make technology work for your competitive edge.

Product Life Cycle

Every product takes a natural course through the market—there's a how, when, and why customers adopt products at different stages. Check out this course from GLOBIS Unlimited to find out how a product you use every day is part of this cycle.

Logic Tree

Logical thinking is the most valuable asset any business professional can have. That's why logic trees are such a valuable tool—they can help you identify a problem, break it down, and build it back up to a solution.

MECE Principle

Using the MECE principle can help ensure you categorize without gaps or overlaps. Check out this course from GLOBIS Unlimited for a practical demonstration of how it works!

With cultural diversity come differences in thoughts and actions—a good and necessary outcome for any organization. But the dynamics diversity brings also pose some unique challenges. If someone unintentionally or ignorantly commits some cultural faux pas, misunderstanding and miscommunication can easily arise.

As such, more and more professionals and organizations are investing in cultural training to help them navigate today’s increasingly culturally diverse business spaces. Educating yourself to be culturally intelligent without proper context and frameworks, however, can lead to mindless cultural training. It results in cultural stereotyping, which only serves to exacerbate the original problem of cultural insensitivity.

So what is the solution? I propose cultural mindfulness.

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Cultural Mindfulness: A Definition

Culture is broadly defined as the ideas, customs, and social behavior of a particular people or society. In an organizational setting, culture is the collection of written and unwritten values, philosophies, and practices that govern how members of an organization behave and interact internally and externally.

Mindfulness, meanwhile, is commonly known as the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to experiences occurring in the present moment. In other words, living in the moment and being conscious of our own thoughts and behaviors as we interact with other people or situations.

Combining the above definitions gives us cultural mindfulness, a state of being mindful of, first, your own cultural construct, and second, the cultural constructs of the other person you are interacting with at any given moment. It simply means reacting or responding to the actual stimuli (the other person) without the baggage of cultural stereotyping.

It’s important to stress that the focus of cultural understanding or awareness should first be within (yourself) and then manifest externally by being mindful of other people’s cultural conditioning.

Why Cultural Mindfulness

Why do we need cultural mindfulness? Simple answer: to avoid becoming too ethnocentric.

Ethnocentrism in itself is not bad. We all have and need a certain degree of ethnocentrism in our lives to have a healthy appreciation of our own background, origin, and culture. Such perspective plays a significant role in how we define ourselves, form our belief systems, and identify with others. The challenge is to find the balance between knowing your own culture and being open to understanding the culture of others.

At its worst, an ethnocentric worldview may lead to one (or even all) of the following:

  • A tendency to view our own culture as the “master culture”
  • A mentality or mindset of “us” versus “them”
  • A tendency to become self-focused and self-absorbed
  • A fear of stepping outside our own bubbles of reality and experience
  • A judgmental outlook—or worse, bigotry, hatred, and rage

Another good reason to pursue cultural mindfulness is that it helps us develop an awareness of our own cultural biases. We all have (and sometimes even need) biases. As leading neuroscientist Dr. David Rock says, “If you have a brain, you are biased.” Unfortunately, there are just too many cognitive biases that we, as a species, have learned and accumulated as a result of thousands of years of evolution.

Having awareness of all of our cognitive biases is impossible. However, it’s crucial that we try to be aware of at least our cultural biases. The key is not to deny them, but to recognize that we have them. And through the process of self-awareness (and being open to how other people experience and view their own cultural biases), we can identify cultural lenses and conditioning. In essence, we become culturally mindful.

Cultural mindfulness means considering WHY someone is late, rather than making a snap judgment
Cultural mindfulness means considering why this guy is late, rather than making a snap judgment. | iStock/NanoStockk

Practicing Cultural Mindfulness

In Japan, the concept of being on time is predominantly observed—even expected. In fact, “Japan time” is actually five to ten minutes earlier than the appointed time on the clock. If a Japanese person arrives late, there’s often a quick judgement that they are not being “Japanese.” There’s no real effort made to know the reasons why they were late or even determine if this is a one-time event or a recurring behavior of the individual.

Being culturally mindful in this instance would mean that we first become aware of our own concept of time. Is it several minutes before the appointed time? Exactly on time? Several minutes after the appointed time?

Then, we inquire. We seek understanding of the other person’s concept of time.

Finally, we find out the reason or reasons that contributed to the delay. Was the train late? Did they miscalculate the time needed to get here? Was there an accident? Or were they, in fact, just being lazy?

From there, we can make a more informed reaction based on that incident and act accordingly.

The reverse is also true. If a Filipino arrives on time for an appointment, people may be surprised. There is a prevalent cultural stereotype of “Filipino time,” which is later than the appointed time. Personally, I have always subscribed to the concept of “Filipino time,” but plan my appointments so that I show up at least five to ten minutes in advance. Does that make me less Filipino and more Japanese? Not at all. It’s simply a personal preference. I want to manage my own time while respecting other people. The cultural stereotype dictates that since I was born and raised in the Philippines, I should be following Filipino time. But in reality, I show up on time consistently, following the Japanese cultural stereotype.

And that was true even before I came to live in Japan and learn its cultural norms.

In short, cultural mindfulness teaches us how to understand ourselves first, and then others. When dealing with cultural issues, the first step is to withhold judgment. Be aware of your own cultural biases and conditioning, and then seek to understand the perspectives of the people you encounter.

Abridged from The HR Agenda Magazine with permission.

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