I am a passionate observer. I learn a lot by observing. After dealing or collaborating with dozens of interculturalists and presenting for hundreds of them from all over the world I have come to a conclusion that these are the top-3 qualities that most of them have. I share them and I also learn from it.
We promote universal tolerance – it is something taken for granted. But when it comes to walking the talk, it may become a really disruptive experience for some. I think tolerance is closely connected with personal sustainability, as it is not something we should show, but rather something we should feel and convey. And if we can’t feel, then we should at least show it professionally. As an observer I have never met an interculturalist who would be intolerant not only to other nations (nonsense, right?) but also to other phenomena of reality (with any kind of difference or unusualness). Under sustainability I mean that I have never witnessed an interculturalist loose their patience about anything.
Well, politeness is also a given normal state of things everywhere, but it’s not the same everywhere. In Russia for example, politeness is quite laconic and much depends on the context. Showing appreciation is often skipped to go straight to the point. Just like in some other direct cultures.
What I learn from my international colleagues is explicitly acknowledging time and efforts put into anything, be it an email, a good question, a favour, things done, information provided or just attention showed to you. No way to forget about small talk in correspondence. Sometimes it is formal, very often it gets friendly. In all cases it’s nice to be attentive and responsive rather than trying to fake it. All these hopings, wishings, havings, congratulatings are not archaic and are not just set phrases. They are attitudes showing someone’s attention to you, and it should be acknowledged. Interculturalists are really good at it 😁.
Supportiveness is another very good observation. Technical failures may happen at any step in our new virtual normality. They may irritate. It is true. While attending and running myself numerous online sessions with all kinds of glitches, I was always observing people’s reactions. It is just incredible how supportive an interculturalist audience is (because they are sustainable, I suppose)!! And I also learn from that!
This is what I see every now and then – interculturalists learn a lot. They attend each others webinars, conferences several times a year, they master new skills, study interdisciplinary sciences and look for new content and tools. It is an endless process. And it is a good example for many other professions.
What I also know from my colleagues from different countries, and I am part of this story, that we passionately love our profession, our field, our mission. When I happen to discuss it with other interculturalists, I am always surprised with the same amount of passion their confession reveals, as I feel inside.
I wish everyone a lot of happiness and success in the upcoming year. We do a great job, colleagues. More encounters in the future!!!