It is likely that you will be working with teammates from quite diverse backgrounds, of differing cultures, ages, genders, and disciplines.
Without awareness cultural differences can lead to poor outcomes, disharmony and, potentially, divisiveness that can spill over into much larger issues that can endanger the entire project.
There are things you can do.
- First, while it’s important to be sensitive to the perspectives of other people, it's also important to be yourself. Don’t over-adapt so that you lose your own identity. Doing that may risk losing the trust of others.
- Second, be observant of how other people respond. Practice effective listening and look for visual cues that may help enhance your understanding and defuse misunderstandings before they become a problem. Diversity is not just cultural differences it can be a diversity of experiences. You may be working with people who have more or perhaps less experience than you. This might mean you have different expectations about how to go about things. Recognise this, think about it, and discuss it.
- Third, develop an awareness of the general cultural traits of those with whom you’re working – but remember, when we generalise we're stereotyping. And while sometimes such generalisations can be helpful as a starting point they may end up entirely counterproductive if they're misused.
We all have individual traits and qualities.
Take the time to understand who your team members are,
what they value and how they like to approach the work that they do.
And maybe think about your cultural background, your values and how you approach a task.
How might your traits and qualities be affecting others?
Maximise the opportunities that diversity creates.