1. Why did you write this book?
When I was doing my PhD, so much of the academic research I was reading was of the “cultural comparison” variety – about how cultures were different from each other. But that wasn’t the main problem I saw out in the world when I was working with companies or coaching people to adapt behaviour across cultures. It wasn’t simply understanding differences that people were struggling with. Instead, it was being able to adapt and adjust their behaviour across cultures without losing themselves in the process. This core insight inspired my academic research, which ultimately became the basis for Global Dexterity.
2. What is the most important thing you want readers to take away from this book?
Two main things: First, that we’re not prisoners of culture or passive recipients of culture, but, instead, can be active, creative users of culture. And second, that you can adapt and adjust your behaviour successfully across cultures without losing yourself in the process.
3. Name one or two books in our field that influenced you the most, that you think all interculturalists should be familiar with? Why?
I love Edward T Hall and his anthropological take on culture and cultural differences. I remember reading his books in graduate school and being really inspired. I also have to mention the book Lost in Translation by Eva Hoffman, that interculturalists may not know about, but which is a wonderful story of cultural adaptation. Finally, in the pure academic realm, I was always very influenced by the sociologist Ann Swidler and her concept of culture as a toolkit.
4. What is one of the most significant, most memorable cross-cultural experiences you have had?
As a college student in the late 1980’s, I lived and studied in Spain and it was my very first experience abroad. And this was the pre-internet era, so I didn’t have easy access to photos and videos and information about the experience I was about to have. I have to admit that at the time I was terrified to step on that plane. But the experience really changed my life.
5. If you could pass on only one insight/one lesson learned to others about crossing cultures, what would you say?
To think about cultural similarities in addition to cultural differences. I think we’re almost programmed to think about differences when crossing cultures. But the key to being successful across cultures isn’t just focusing on differences. It’s to also focus on similarities- what you might have in common with someone else, which is essential for building trust and the building blocks of a potential relationship.
6. This newsletter goes to nearly 1,000 readers, folks who are either in or interested in the field of intercultural communications. If you’d like to say something else to these folks, something we have not asked about in this questionnaire, feel free to add your brief comments here.
Yes! If you are an experienced cross-cultural coach or trainer and are interested in becoming certified as a practitioner of the Global Dexterity method, please contact me directly at email@example.com to be placed on an information list to learn more. I will be opening up the first certification cohort later in 2020. You can find out more about me and my work at www.andymolinsky.com. Thanks!