Illustration of people of all races and colors standing around.
iStock photo/elenabs

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!

I once heard a corporate executive share the following words at a cross-cultural training seminar:

“We are all human beings. We can understand each other as long as we communicate.”

The other participants nodded in agreement, appreciating the sincerity in his tone. It is hard to argue with such a seemingly reasonable conviction. By the end of the training, however, a fundamental flaw emerged in the executive’s message. His belief—held by many—is, in fact, the product of a particular intercultural mindset called minimization. In the name of humanity, minimization is about minimizing differences born from culture or identity.

And it limits our opportunities to learn from each other.

Next Article

8 Scales to Chart a Culture Map for Better Management

Erin Meyer’s The Culture Map is an essential resource for developing cross-cultural management skills.
People sit around a culture map of the world made of different cultural buzzwords

How to Live Happily Ever After in Japan’s High-Context Culture

Understanding Japan’s high-context culture requires understanding of cross-cultural communication in both formal and social settings.
Black-and-white image of Japanese people riding escalators with strict etiquette to stand on the right side, observing a high-context culture norm

Why Minimizing Differences Isn’t the Answer—According to Research

The Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity, a.k.a. the Bennett scale, created by Dr. Milton Bennett, is a well-tested framework that explains the six stages of facing cultural differences. According to the model, we can nurture our cultural sensitivity over time by shedding an ethnocentric mindset—moving from a perceived “center of reality” and adopting an ethnorelative attitude instead.

Minimizing differences, though not as bad as denial, is still far from the ethnorelative end goal.

Graph illustrating the development of intercultural sensitivity, from denial to integration
©Milton Bennet

As shown in the image, the first two stages of development are denial and defense, in which we reject and dismiss unfamiliar cultures. This is the mindset that effectively dehumanizes people from other cultures and, even today, makes it so easy to arm ourselves against perceived “outsiders.” For those of us not living in a warzone, the greater danger may lie with the third stage: minimization—the one where we start minimizing differences.

We are all human beings” is the magic phrase meant to light the way to an imaginary world in which there is, in fact, no distinction among peoples. This assumption negates not only our differences, but also the significance of our uniqueness. People who get stuck in this stage often do so with good intentions and a naïve sense of equality. Even experienced leaders face this danger, as they can be blinded by past success in treating everyone the same way—particularly if they’re used to a homogenous environment.

But another trap awaits under the fourth stage: acceptance.

Have you ever felt that you are simply being tolerated among a group of people? Here in Japan, minority groups in the workplace, such as foreigners and women, are often treated with a kind of extraterritoriality, even receiving privileges such as special networks and fringe benefits. The intentions may be sincere, but the results are often alienating—yet another way to avoid honest conversation with those who are different. This is how minorities often come to feel tolerated, rather than truly accepted. The key element of achieving true acceptance is finding value in differences.

The final two stages of Bennett’s scale are adaptation and integration. Many expats in Japan aim to adapt, but tend to fail to integrate. When we are fully adapted, we think and behave in the context of a given culture, understanding, appreciating, and emulating the way locals do things in order to thrive in their environment. Then, when we leave that culture, we can revert to our own. This is called style switching, and is the essence of the phrase “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Locals usually find this practice pleasant and respectful, which makes it both effective for survival and enjoyable for those who like to try different behaviors.

So what does this leave for integration?

According to Bennett, attaining integration makes us multi-culturists. A multi-culturist has a vast repertoire of cultural thinking and behavior. This may sound like simply a wider range of behaviors to choose from, but there is also an element of mediation between cultures.

How to Transcend “Us vs. Them”

With inclusion in mind, consider again the difference between being influenced by another culture versus influencing it. There are two clear signs to gauge inclusion in a given environment: first, the number of conversations and interactions generated, and second, how much you and the “other” have influenced each other’s value system and actions beyond style switching.

I, myself, can attest to the new perspectives and ideas that come through openness to these signs. The experience almost feels like moving from a monochrome pallet to painting with colors, upgrading to a new shade with each new understanding of the world. Eventually, interactions with colleagues and business partners from other cultures or lifestyles makes the act of integration a natural, varicolored part of life.

By then, you wonder how minimizing differences ever seemed like a good idea.

The Bennett scale is essentially a mindful way of learning from others. When we’re no longer caught fearing or minimizing differences, the world becomes an endless source of discovery and growth. The only skill we need then is the ability to share who we are, wholly and honestly.

By being open to the different cultures of our fellow human beings, we can truly come to understand each other.

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