Intercultural competence: examples and definition

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Intercultural competence: examples and definition

Have you ever heard of intercultural competence? The world is moving ever closer together. The internet knows no borders and contact with people from other cultures is now the norm in our private and professional lives. Intercultural competence is extremely important in order to avoid conflicts and maintain communication. This requires tact, empathy and openness.

What does intercultural competence mean?

Although this ability is indispensable, especially in today's world, the Definition intercultural competence causes problems for many people. What does intercultural competence mean? Quite simply: you are able to cooperate respectfully with people from other cultures. You respond to their cultural characteristics and observe certain rules.

Intercultural competence is essential in view of increasing migration and the globally networked world. This applies not only to your professional life, but also to your private life. You also need intercultural skills when operating on the Internet and in digital communication.

The key components of intercultural competence

What are intercultural skills? Many people initially find it difficult to find a definition for intercultural competence. The term refers to certain skills that enable you to interact with people from other cultures. successful to act.

The legal definition of intercultural competence

Intercultural competence is Participation and Integration Act is defined. According to this definition, it is a professional and social skill. Intercultural competence is based on knowledge of symbols, rules, values and norms of a cultural nature. The law requires intercultural skills to be ensured through further training measures and training courses. It also includes consideration for employment in the public sector.

What is intercultural competence?

There are some character traitsthat characterize intercultural competence. If you have intercultural competence, then you have empathy and empathy. You are able to put yourself in other people's shoes, even if they have a different cultural background and share different values. You show understanding and respect for this.

Your qualities include openness, interest and curiosity. You accept other points of view and are open to foreign cultures. In short, you are flexible and have the ability to embrace new things.

At the same time, you are self-confident and self-assured. Emotional stability is one of your strengths and you have the ability to self-reflect. You are generally critical of prejudices and have an optimistic attitude towards new things.

Technical knowledge

Experience and knowledge of diverse cultures are also an advantage. It makes sense, Cultural characteristics and behaviors in order to understand them, interpret them correctly and deal with them appropriately. In addition to character traits, technical knowledge therefore plays a decisive role.

intercultural skills

Why is intercultural competence crucial in business?

We live in an increasingly globalized world. Business relationships are often far-reaching, so you frequently interact with people from other countries and cultures. This requires not only good foreign language skills, but also intercultural competence. Intercultural skills help to improve teamwork in the business world. They strengthen customer relationships and promote market expansion.

Developing intercultural skills: 5 practical tips

Many people do not naturally possess intercultural competence. To avoid making mistakes, it is important to actively engage with other cultures and acquire the necessary knowledge. With the following Tips you improve your intercultural skills:

1. learning new languages

Today's school education already lays the foundation for successful communication in adulthood by learning various foreign languages. There are also many other interesting languages that will increase your intercultural competence.

2. stays abroad

Travel educates! Take the opportunity to gain experience abroad. Take part in language and study trips or apply for an internship abroad. Also at the Work and Travel you get to know the host country and the customs of the people better.

3. inform about other cultures

Be curious and get to know other cultures. Books or films, for example, are suitable for this. Acquire as much general knowledge as possible about the different peoples of the world.

4. participate in intercultural training

Intercultural competence is now so much in demand in the business world that there are special courses and training programs for this. Many internationally active companies take great care to train their employees and also take into account the different cultural aspects.

5. coaching

The personal coaching encourages you to confront other values and customs. The coach will show you ways in which you can change your Awareness and better accept other value systems and ways of thinking.

Examples of intercultural competence in everyday life

Intercultural competence has a positively on living together and cooperation with people from different cultural backgrounds. It avoids misunderstandings and promotes Acceptance on both sides. Here are a few examples:


In many countries, it is inappropriate to greet women with a handshake. This is replaced by a nod and friendly smile. In Russia, only men greet each other with a handshake. In the USA and in many Arab countries, physical contact is unusual, even between people of the same sex. In China, a slight bow is used to greet the other person. Appreciation against.

Table manners

As you probably know, Muslims don't eat pork and they don't drink alcohol. Even in America, alcohol is frowned upon at business lunches. The situation is completely different in Russia and China.


Americans communicate openly and directly. They see many things in a positive context. The Chinese shy away from expressing rejection. Their promises are therefore not always meant seriously, but are presumably based on politeness. Arabs like to show their diplomatic side. They tend to simply leave out negative things.

General behavior

Asians are generally very polite and reserved. They show themselves modest. Many Chinese see tips as an insult. They find it difficult to accept their own mistakes. Americans, on the other hand, have a healthy Self-confidence and a relaxed manner. It is completely normal for them to make mistakes. They are not ashamed of them, but learn from them and take an optimistic approach.

The role of coaching in the development of intercultural skills

Individual or group-based coaching plays a major role in building intercultural competence. In the meantime, more and more business coaches to give you the ability to recognize, develop and refine intercultural skills. This is particularly important for people in management and leadership positions.

Intercultural competence in leadership: Why it is indispensable

Nowadays, people from different backgrounds work in one company. The shortage of skilled workers in particular is easier to overcome with employees from other cultural backgrounds. This is why intercultural competence is so important for managers. This is the only way to manage diverse teams effectively, avoid conflicts and create an inclusive working environment.

Challenges in building intercultural competence

When acquiring intercultural competence, there are often misunderstandings and challenges. Especially at the beginning, you often put your foot in your mouth because you are not familiar with the customs and traditions of other cultures. Is your Business partner a JapaneseFor example, it is customary to exchange business cards and accept them with a small bow with both hands. If you are on a business trip in Japan, misbehavior will not leave a good impression.

When interacting with people from other cultures, you will always encounter hurdles. Overcoming these is extremely important for your further development and success in the Business. But be sure to hold back with exaggerated adjustments. Too much ingratiation is embarrassing. A discreet bow during the Asian greeting ritual is usually enough.

In an increasingly globalized world, intercultural competence is playing an increasingly important role. The shortage of skilled workers and advancing technological progress require the global exchange of Experts. Employee teams are becoming more multicultural. Trade relations also continue to be lively, meaning that intercultural skills are becoming increasingly important, especially in the professional field.

Intercultural competence as the key to success

Developing intercultural skills not only contributes to your personal enrichment, but is also an essential prerequisite for your future career. professional success and for effective leadership in the modern working world.

Of course, it is not only important to take cultural aspects into account and respect them, but also to adapt to people with different personalities in general and to recognize individual needs. Needs to consider. Our Masterclass "The art of knowing people" shows you how to better assess and motivate others and how to communicate and work with them successfully.

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