Cultural competence is defined as one’s ability to interact successfully with people of different cultures. It is becoming increasingly important due to increased globalization and communications between different regions.
To increase your cultural competence, it is imperative that you first become aware of your own views and prejudices based on your cultural background. You should then analyze your attitudes towards cultural differences and learn about different world views and practices of other cultures.
You can then develop and foster cross cultural skills to create synergy between yourself and your counterparts. Once cultural competence becomes established, discussions and negotiations will become much more effective with decreased misunderstandings. In fact, many corporations are incorporating diversity training to increase cultural competence.
An example of poor cultural competence by an American visiting China would be the visitor offending and upsetting their host through using the wrong words, tone, or body language. To increase your cultural competence with regards to Chinese, for example, familiarize yourself with basic Chinese cultural concepts such as principles of Confucianism: respect for hierarchy, maintaining harmony with others, and the reciprocity of favors. Although certain aspects of the culture may be overwhelming at first, the more time and effort you put into learning and putting into practice, the more culturally competent and successful you will be.