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Intercultural competence

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Intercultural competence is the ability for successful communication with people of other cultures. This ability can be existing already at a young age, or be developed and improved thanks to willpower and competence. The bases for a successful intercultural communication are emotional competence, together with intercultural sensitivity.

Cultures can be different not only between continents or nations, but also within the same company or even family: every human being has his own history, his own life and therefore also (in a certain extent) his own culture resp. cultural affiliation (geographical, ethnical, moral, ethical, religious, political, historical).

Basic needs are sensitivity and self-consciousness: the understanding of other behaviors and ways of thinking as well as the ability to express one’s own point of view in a transparent way with the aim to be understood and respected by staying flexible where this is possible, and being clear where this is necessary.

It is a balance, situatively adapted, between three parts:

  • 1) knowledge (about other cultures, people, nations, behaviors…),
  • 2) empathy (understanding feelings and needs of other people), and
  • 3) self-confidence (knowing what I want, my strengths and weaknesses, emotional stability).

For assessment of intercultural competence as an existing ability and / or the potential to develop it (with conditions and timeframe), the following characteristics are tested and observed: ambiguity tolerance, openness to contacts, flexibility in behaviour, emotional stability, motivation to perform, empathy, metacommunicative competence, polycentrism.

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