Saturday, November 19, 2005

 

Client Communication: Measuring Your Cross-Cultural Competence

In today’s age of globalization, cross-cultural communication has become a vital skill for lawyers to master. When we interact with clients and colleagues on a daily basis, we are interacting with issues related to culture. Behavior, communication, relationships, parenting, decision-making, expectations and so on, all have cultural significance.

What is cross-cultural communication?

Effective cross-cultural communication is the ability to communicate with individuals from other cultures in a way that minimizes conflict, promotes greater understanding and maximizes your ability to establish trust and rapport. It requires lawyers to learn how to properly interpret non-verbal and verbal cues.

For lawyers, gaining an awareness of cultural differences can improve business development, staff retention, client service and most importantly, lawyer-client relationships.

We all interpret the world through our individual cultural lens or worldview. These interpretations ultimately become positive, negative and sometimes erroneous judgments about the behavior, decisions and choices made by clients and others.

The ability to communicate cross-culturally is tied to your level of cultural competence. As your level of cultural competence increases, so too will your cross-cultural communication skills.

So what is cultural competence?

Cultural competence is the ability to function effectively in the context of cultural difference and the capacity to effectively adapt, accept and interpret culturally relevant behavior.

Think of cultural competence as a “lens” that can accurately interpret culturally relevant behavior and values.


How to Measure Your Cultural Competence

The most effective way to determine your level of cultural competence is to take an assessment. Check back to learn about the various stages of cultural competence and the significance for lawyers.

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