How vital is mindfulness in a multicultural environment…
…and how come Hebrew doesn’t have a direct translation for the term ‘mindfulness’?
I recently participated in a mindfulness workshop presented by Samantha Amit, lead executive trainer at the Center for Development and Leadership. Samantha shared with us Prof. Jon Kabat-Zinn’s following definition: “Mindfulness is paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.”
As a cross-cultural consultant, I felt the need to adopt this tool in my own work in the global business arena. Mindfulness is so relevant in today’s world, where we see a mixture of different cultures, values and behavior in almost every workplace. It has become vital for managers to address this diversity in a way that expresses acceptance to each individual and maximizes the advantages of each culture.
Practicing mindfulness enables people to:
• Build present-moment awareness.
• Accept self and others.
• Respond with maturity.
Mindfulness is a way of being fully present with yourself and in your diverse relationships at work. Being mindful highlights our own internal compass. It creates clarity, self-observation and even a better understanding of how other cultures view our culture.
Over the past seven years, I’ve conducted extensive research on the Israeli business culture and the gap between it and other cultures around the globe. I came to realize that most people see Israelis as: Informal, Straightforward, Risk-taking, Ambitious, Entrepreneurial, Loud and Improvisational. (For more information about these characteristics and the ISRAELI model, see my Amazon bestseller Israeli Business Culture).
Building upon this concept, it’s important to understand our own identity and culture, and then outspread this knowledge into a deeper mindfulness of other cultures and ethnicities. Fundamentally, mindfulness represents moment-to-moment awareness with the willingness to listen to others and learn from them, without judgment of right or wrong!
I wonder why Hebrew doesn’t have a word for “mindfulness.”
(The closest it comes is just the regular words meaning awareness or attention, or a transliteration of the English word.)
Maybe because we are not very mindful in our culture? Israelis tend to be critical of one another’s opinions, always think they know better and don’t have the patience to listen. That’s all true, but on the other hand, everyone in Israel lives in the moment: Tel-Aviv cafes and restaurants are full of people during the day as if nobody here goes to work. We travel all over the world, as if we have no mortgage. We celebrate every moment in our lives, as if we weren’t living in the most sensitive place in the Middle East. Or maybe because of it!
Israelis may live in the moment, but do they really experience the moment? Are we able to pay attention to small details and the deeper meaning of things? Many of us may enjoy the moment, making quick decisions in the moment, perhaps mindlessly.
So sometimes we are not mindful enough – not of ourselves and not of others. I recommend bringing more mindfulness to our personal and professional lives. Not labeling or judging the different cultures around us, but embracing, accepting, joining together and learning from them. We can be more sensitive to our surroundings if we put our minds to it.
Mindfulness is vital for better communicating across barriers.
Mindfulness connects people across languages and culture.
Mindfulness increases our chances of building stronger connections.
Mindfulness can be an excellent tool for handling complex work situations.
Mindfulness can help us be the best versions of ourselves in diverse teams.
Learn more about our cross-cultural training at www.olm-consulting.com.