Module 3: Developing Your Intercultural Skills

Becoming Interculturally-Minded

An interculturally-minded person looks beyond surface elements of culture, such as music, food, and celebrations, and demonstrates abilities that help them understand and engage comfortably and efficiently in intercultural contexts. Since we all live in a society, developing an intercultural mind can help you become a global learner. The skills that you develop in the process are transferable across contexts of your everyday life: from interactions with your family, neighbours, and peers at the university, to your engagement at work, with local people on your travels, and with members of your community. Developing skills is a lifelong process where you continue learning about others, adapting to the situation, and enhancing your competencies.

Developing intercultural skills is not limited to having successful interactions; it also involves:

  • recognizing other people’s experiences and histories
  • taking the initiative to explore and engage with other cultures
  • having conversations about topics that could be hard to discuss (e.g., Black Lives Matter, racialization, White privilege)
  • having the capacity to adapt effortlessly to different situations
  • identifying opportunities for continuous cultural growth
  • being strategic about changing systems in favour of equity and belonging

Activity: what are Intercultural Competencies?

Explore the following list of intercultural competencies and select a maximum of three options that reflect something you feel you are already doing. Then select another three things you wish to dedicate more time to develop based on how you understand your own experience and skills. Record your selections on a separate paper or word processor. You will need them for the follow-up reflection.

Think About This

Review the options in the previous activity that reflect something you feel you are already doing.

  • What motivations did you have to develop those areas?
  • What guidance or advice did you receive to encourage you to work on those competencies? How confident do you feel in each of those areas? Why?

Now, review the options that indicate something that you would like to focus on developing.

  • Why is this important or immediately necessary for you?
  • What have you experienced or observed that makes you think this is something you would like to concentrate on?

Takeaway Points

  • Intercultural competencies are applicable to all contexts of interactions, whether formal or informal, at home or abroad, with your family, neighbours, peers, people you do not really know, or workmates.
  • All abilities, skills, knowledge, and qualities that you develop through intercultural competence are transferable and will significantly improve your relationships, outlook, the way you work, and how you approach the fair treatment of cultural others.
  • It is important you learn to recognize how intercultural competencies look in practice and how they can support all of your interactions.
  • You do not need to focus on developing everything at once, but make sure you start with your own self-awareness in order to understand the perspectives of cultural others.

Try These Strategies

  • Look at your surroundings—where you live or work. Who are the people with whom you interact the most? What about those with whom you rarely interact? What is something that you could be doing better? Think about two or three things that you could do to advance your development of intercultural competence. You can refer back to the list of competencies in this section to help you think about it.
  • Take inventory of people in your immediate circle whose cultural upbringing may have been different from yours. What can you do to learn about their perspectives and experiences? You can start by engaging them more in conversation to learn from each other setting aside any potential assumptions you may have had of them.

Media Attribution

Volunteer by Adrien Croquet from and licensed under CC BY 3.0.
Abilities by Flatart from and licensed under CC BY 3.0.
Knowledge by Ranah Pixel Studio from and licensed under CC BY 3.0.
Teamwork by Stephen Borengasser from and licensed under CC BY 3.0.