"Companies Don't Go Global, People Do": An Interview with Andy Molinsky
Andy Molinsky, the author of Global Dexterity: How to Adapt Your Behavior Across Cultures Without Losing Yourself in the Process, draws on his years of field research, teaching, and consulting to advise managers who must learn to adapt to a new culture. Molinsky focuses on how people practice new behaviors in actual situations, such as speaking up in a meeting or giving performance feedback, rather than on the differences between cultures. He suggests an approach that consists of three stages: 1. Figure out what the cultural norms are and how they differ from the home culture in directness, enthusiasm, formality, assertiveness, self-promotion, and self-disclosure. 2. Figure out what the "zone of appropriateness" is in the new culture for each of those six dimensions. 3. Once you know what adaptations you can (and are willing to) make, practice them to develop "muscle memory." Certain psychological barriers may arise in the process. People get anxious about whether they're being authentic, or they feel incompetent and worry that others see them that way, or they become resentful of the hard and stressful work of adapting. But they often learn something interesting about themselves, Molinsky says, and that can be exciting.