Interaction with people from different cultures has been taking place since early human history. However, the intercultural contact has become more frequent and intimate during just the last century due to mainly the global economy, massive transportation and information technology.
In this context of increasing intercultural contact, history tells us that human beings regardless of cultural background were not particularly fond of contact with people from other cultures. For instance, it is recorded that most of the intercultural contact was superficial, mostly hostile, oppressive, and bloody [1, 2]. Therefore, during the last five decades, interculturalists have developed trainings so that the intercultural interaction could be less hostile, more effective and meaningful for both sides.
Today, we do know more about what and how to improve intercultural contact. The more we know the way to make a person effective in an intercultural setting, the more evident the need for intercultural training appears to be.
Nowadays, no one can dispute that people typically have difficulties when crossing cultural boundaries because suddenly, and with little warning, behaviors and attitudes that proved necessary for obtaining goals in their own culture are no longer useful . For instance in the educational sector, scholarly findings converge to indicate that culturally different students (i.e., domestic and international students or mainstream and minority ethnic group students) do not readily mix; rather, they prefer to gravitate to peers with similar cultural background. Worse yet, large amount of studies all across the globe continues to report low level of interaction between domestic and international students on international campuses .
In the corporate arena, research evidence on cross-cultural management indicates that about 70% of all outsourcing deals fail partially or completely due to mainly cultural differences . Moreover, high executives converge to indicate that if cultural differences are not managed well in organizations, culturally diverse teams have a tendency towards ineffective communication, increased conflict, underperformance, and invisible relationships .
Therefore, there is a compelling need to develop the ability to communicate effectively in cross-cultural situations and to relate appropriately in a variety of cultural contexts . In this context, our institution IC-21 brings the most updated and sophisticated trainings to your daily activity whether you are an individual or institution living or operating in Thailand.
Who can take our intercultural training and seminars?
The IC-21 intercultural trainings and seminars are built on three assumptions:
|1) You live in a globalized age in which all people on earth, regardless of the culture, are interconnected. Some of this connection might be obvious as when you interact with someone who might speak a strange language. Other connections might be more subtle such as others' unfamiliar and weird reactions to a very familiar and "normal" event, or countries' programs or issues having direct impact on global economy and security.|
|2) Culture does not mean nation. You yourself hold multiple cultural membership: hence the term co-culture (i.e., your religion, economic status, ethnic background, age, gender, sexual preference, professional background, and so forth). Ergo, even if you do not interact with people from other countries, you do with others from co-cultures who speak the same language but belong to cultures that are different from yours.|
|3) Today the concern is not whether you will have intercultural interaction, but whether you will do it competently or not. There is no another option!|
Training program goals
The IC-21 intercultural trainings are built on the constructivism and developmental approach of intercultural communication, therefore, it has three major goals:
|1) To identify both our trainees' own assumptions and the host culture's assumption on: identity, communication style, attitude toward times, uncertainty and risk, concept of right, fairness, status and hierarchy, view of human nature and basis for decision making. Consequently, to know how their own culture's assumptions, stereotypes, conceits and ethnocentrism influence their interactions with people from other cultures. Our intercultural trainings do challenge our trainees to be part of their own culture, but at the same time, to be out of it.|
|2) To expand their worldview and behavioral repertoire. To guide them to experience the world from the others' perspective in order to interact effectively with members of the host culture. That is, if our Thai, Japanese or German trainees are interacting with Americans, we guide them to experience the world in a more American way, if with Chinese, to feel the world in a more Chinese way, and so forth.|
|3) To help our trainees to manage their emotional reactions when interacting with people from other cultures (intercultural sensitivity). To be able not only to develop positive feelings towards understanding and appreciating cultural differences, but to be comfortable to shift context and behavioral script whenever a situation requires it.|
To experience the world from the others perspective requires a whole new patterns of perception, assumption, understanding, and evaluation which -building on the constructivist theory- can be achieved through new intercultural mindset, skillset, and intercultural sensitivity .
Intercultural mindset explores such concepts as cultural self-awareness, understanding of cultural adaptation, ethnocentrism, structural change and process, uncertainty, multiple causality, relativity, probability, non-symmetrical relationships, degrees of difference, incongruity, and assumptions, to name just few of them.
Intercultural skillset contemplates mainly communication styles, nonverbal behavior, listening skills, hability to evaluate, analize, and relate, and anxiety management skills .
Finally, intercultural sensitivity embraces non-judgment attitudes, open-mindedness, empathy, ability to produce positive emotional responses in cross-cultural situations, respect for others' values and beliefs, flexibility, and tolerance for ambiguity .
In conclusion, the IC-21 intercultural training program is specially designed to address cognitive, emotional, and behavioral changes. In doing so, the training techniques to develop the mindset, skillset and intercultural sensitivity are lecturer/discussion techniques, role playing, case studies, critical incidents, culture-general simulations, culture-specific simulations, movies, and didactic games.
Building on the constructivist theory, the new intercultural mindset and skillset are cognitive constructs that enable people to understand, perceive and feel the same things from a radically different perspective. We may recall here the suggestion made by Einstein's work: we do not see things as they are but as we are! In a word, the inevitability of change is at the core of the IC-21 training programs.
What the IC-21 training program does not cover
Taking into account the above, it is categorically clear that our training content does not explore culture in the anthropological way, that is, about historical monuments, customs, food, dress, music, geography, heroes, nor even about political, economic and educational institutions of a specific culture.
Our intercultural training does not provide the do's and dont's list either. The reason for this is that our institution does not act as the shill of the host or dominant culture for you to learn their rules and surrender to it. Neither the goal is to set up orders about what to do or not to do in specific cultural context, nor to train you to mimic foreign and unnatural behavior.
The simple "do's and dont's" list tell us how to behave, but does not give the feelings for the context that is necessary for a behavior to be natural, to feel comfortable with it. Moreover, the do's and dont's list implies that learning good enough about other cultures and learning to function with people from other cultures is so easy and demands just few hours .
Why intercultural training is needed
Intercultural learning, that is, the person's transition from a narrow worldview in which one's own culture is the absolute standard of goodness or badness (ethnocentrism) to a more sophisticated understanding of culture in which culture and human behavior is understood in their own context (ethnorelativism) is not a natural process. That is to say, The transition from ethnocentrism to ethnorrelativism does not happen as a result of human interaction between people from different cultures . For intercultural learning to happen it is required
content and pedagogy radically different from traditional instructional practices .
Therefore, there lies the need of intercultural competence, and it is in this context how our institution, IC-21, through its training programs can help you in mastering your intercultural competency whether you are a health care professional, human resources manager, entrepreneur, part of an intercultural or international team project, a social worker, teacher, student, or employee in any organization.
The training program can tune up your sensibility to cultural differences, and enable you to switch perspectives and behavioral scripts so that you can be more effective in achieving your personal goals when interacting with people from cultures different than yours.
Intercultural training assessment and follow-up
The IC-21 provides a pre- and post- training self-assessment and report.
The self-assessment is carried out using psychometrically valid and reliable empirical instruments that have little or no social desirability and cultural bias. Those instruments are internationally recognized and adept at measuring the development of intercultural competence.
The IC-21 also provides two reports: individual report and group report. Each report is built on the self-assessment data and interview pointing out both their current stage on the developmental process of intercultural competence, and their individual weakness and strength regarding understanding cultural differences.
Finally, the reports conclude making individual and group recommendations to develop individuals worldview repertoires and strengthen the development of intercultural competence.
Do not hesitate to contact us if you need more detailed information.
 Bennett, M. (1998). Intercultural communication: a current perspective. In Bennett, M. J. (Ed.), Basic concepts of intercultural communication: selected readings. Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural Press.
 Schleicher, K., & Kozma, T. (1992). Ethnocentrism in Education. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.
 Brishn, R., Cushner, K., Cherne, C., & Yong, M. (1986). Intercultural interactions: a practical guide. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.
 In Thailand see: Chocce J, Donald J, and Yossatorn Y. (2015).Predictive factors of freshmen' intercultural sensitivity. International Journal of Information and Education Technology, 5(10):778-8. Furnham, A., and Alibhai, N. (1985). The friendship networks of foreign students: A replication and extension of the functional model. International Journal of Psychology, 20, 709-722. And, Summers, M., and Volet, S. (2008). Students' attitudes towards culturally mixed groups on international campuses: impact of participation in diverse and non-diverse groups. Studies in Higher Education, 33(4), 357-370.
 Maznewski, M. L. (2008). Leading global teams. In Mark Mendehalll, J. O., Alland Bird, Garry R. Oddou, and Martha L. Maznevski (Ed.), Global Leadership: researh, practice and development. New York: Routledge.
 Bennett, J., & Bennett, M. (2004). Developing intercultural sensitivity: an integrative approach to global and domestic diversity. In Landis, D., Bennett, J. M., & Bennet, M. J. (Eds.), Handbook of intercultural training (3th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
 Bennett, M. (2001). An intercultural Mindset and Skillset for Global Leadership. Conference Proceedings of Leadership without Borders: Developing Global Leaders. University of Maryland: National leadership institute and the Center for Creative Leadership.
 Bennett, M. (1993). Toward ethnorelativism: a developmental model of intercultural sensitivity. In Paige, M. R. (Ed.), Education for the intercultural experience. Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural Press.
 Paige, R. M. (1993). Education for the intercultural experience. Yarmouth, Maine: Intercultural Press.