Have you ever entered a conversation with the best of intentions, only to end up in an argument? I suspect we have all had this experience and I’d like to suggest that one reason this happens so often is because of mind distance. When we try to communicate with people whose experiences and world views are very different from our own, we often run into invisible walls. It’s like trying to describe colors to a friend who has been blind from birth. No matter how much we try to explain what the world looks, sounds, and feels like to us, if the other person’s experiences have been significantly different, they will have trouble listening and understanding. In my work as an interculturalist, I encounter such mind distance on a regular basis.
Hello there! I sincerely hope that you and yours are doing well and are in good health. I’m being very nice. That’s the stage-setter for where I’m about to take you, some willingly and others, the civility-deficient, perhaps begrudgingly.
We are constantly shuttling between local and global in our work today. Your markets may be in your home town one month, and across the country the next. Your consulting work can be on site around the corner, or across the country. Online night and day, we inform, coordinate, network, and market here at home and across the world. In the midst of massive information overload, the diverse team must have the expertise to cross cultures competently and the wisdom to make effective decisions quickly. In the future, the overload will only intensify. How will we master the global – local connection as it moves and morphs at lightening speed?
The globalization of organizations is an undeniably reality. Businesses and governments are working together to solve problems too big and too complex for any one country. Unfortunately, a quick glance through the recent news headlines points to a critical roadblock in the path to successful international collaboration: a severe lack of trust across organizational and national borders. Trust is one of the basic building blocks of successful collaboration.