Are you confident when you interact with a person who is culturally different from you? How sure are you that you can respond to diversity in ways that are appropriate and effective, especially when you need to build a bridge across differences?
CQ drive: self-efficacy is the degree you are confident you can build that intercultural bridge. We need to be cautious lest we overemphasize perfection. No one is always correct when facing diversity and multicultural encounters. The point is that we are open to learning from our mistakes.
Having said no one is perfect, a person with high CQ drive: self-efficacy expects to succeed when facing differences. You are willing to learn from an error. You are not vain or overconfident. On the other hand, you are not anxious and fearful about how you will behave in multicultural situations.
The first step towards developing self-efficacy is to maintain control. There is a benefit in being flexible in a cross-cultural situation and we should not strive to control everything. CQ drive is enhanced when we develop a sense of autonomy and believe we have power over the situation. This may mean you prepare and take baby steps first to improve your self-confidence. It means to plan ahead. Start slowly. Take a safe walk by yourself in a new culture. In a safe context, try public transportation on your own. These planned initial steps will increase your confidence to take bigger steps and to become secure and confident.
The second step to develop self-efficacy is to experience cross-cultural opportunities. Traveling is a major means to achieve increased confidence, especially if we stretch our comfort zone when we travel. Depending on your location, you may also have ample opportunity to experience cultural diversity at home.
One of our challenges at Purdue University is to provide guidance and opportunity for national students to spend time with international students. It is human nature to remain with others like us. It takes an effort to overcome anxiety to make conversation with others if they look different from us. It is especially challenging if their first language is different from ours. At Purdue University we have a major goal to motivate and facilitate all students to develop intercultural knowledge and competence. As students experience diversity, they develop self-efficacy or confidence.
Now is the time for you to reflect on how confident you are to encounter diversity or cultural differences. Think of a time when you were successful while traveling or spending time with a person different from you. After doing so, mark this step complete.