I’m convinced. In our contemporary economic landscape, being able to relate with others is a currency. Being able to emotionally engage with people of different cultures give people a different perspective and an opportunity to experience and look at a problem from a different angle which in itself is worth spending time doing.
We must be self-aware in life. Knowing people from other cultures helps us to better understand who we really are, regardless of which smartphone we own. There is value in understanding proxemics — or the branch of knowledge that studies how much space people should have between themselves and others. Studying paralanguage, or the gestures and facial expressions people make cross culturally, is an invaluable skillset to obtain in today’s workforce. Why? Because the over abundance of supply in our economy has forced us to think differently about how we are going to be identifying our tribes among the many tribes of people available. At least, we are being encouraged to do so.
When we better understand what people from different cultures really care about, in a language and context they know and understand, we transcend from being obsessed with communicating with them for self gain and start collaborating with them. In America, we value collaboration but we almost always engage in compromising. At least this is what Bradford Hall claims in his great book, Among Cultures: The Challenge of Communication. Moral of the story: The more we understand other people, the higher the chances we have to engage in true collaboration.
In 2019, being able to collaborate is also a currency! Developing intercultural competencies are key. Using technology to complement developing these competences seems more urgent than the alternative making technology second to our ability to better understand people.
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t spend time on a smartphone or engage with others on-line. There is a time and a place for that. I don’t deny it. So, don’t stop using your smartphone with the pretense that interacting with people from different cultures are more important than using them. What I am saying is that understanding people, especially people from other cultures) should be a priority for you and me today.