Answering to my students about technology, social intelligence & ethics, languages, cultures & culture shock, adaptation in globalization…
00:50 Speaking a few languages, would you say it removes barriers, facilitates intercultural management and puts you in a better condition to embrace other cultures?
It does not eliminate cultural barriers, since the knowledge of a language is not everything. I would even say that to become completely bilingual you have to be integrated into the local culture. That is to say that in a way, it’s a reverse process. It can necessarily make management easier. But I wouldn’t say that it allows you to better understand other cultures. It is only an additional way of communicating, but it is not the guarantee of your integration which passes through intercultural intelligence, meaning: understanding the local culture in depth.
01:40 Living in different countries, does it decrease the culture shock or is it different every time?
It is different every time, because the cultures and their variations are innumerable in the world. So, all your life you may be amazed by new cultures and feel culture shock. It will inevitably be less than the first 2-3 times, but it remains all the same, simply with a little bit less intensity.
02:33 We have seen that you have done research on social ethics and intercultural intelligence, so what are the most striking differences between the French professional environment and the Chinese one?
I am not specialized in China. But the Chinese waste much less time on talks, they are faster and more efficient at work, they are more involved and more responsible. Group work is more important. The French are more flexible in their management, more oriented to their quality of life at work and in everyday life, and more respectful of the rules, even if the French are far from perfection in terms of respecting rules.
03:33 What are the benefits of living in so many countries?
I would say it’s the buildup of acculturation in your brain. It allows you to widen your prism of the perception of the world and to be much more open.
04:56 What is the most important thing you learned during your research in social ethics and intercultural intelligence?
All people are the same, only their habits differ.
07:37 How is COMMUNICATION / SOCIAL INTELLIGENCE going to be affected by advancements in TECHNOLOGY or BIG DATA in the future?
This is a really philosophical question. Because today no one can predict how things might change. All we can do is creating abstract models through our imagination and some psychological researches. And all that scares us. And that is precisely what the media and some intellectuals have been doing for some time now.
In my opinion, taking into consideration that communication has already changed during the last 50 years and especially since smartphones integrated our existence like something irreplaceable. And this change can really be seen only by the older generations who have the opportunity to compare the before and now. I personally belong to these generations. Which is not the case of the young people who asked me this question
What form the communication will take later and thanks to or because of new gadgets or other social networks, one can only imagine, because no one knows. For example, we can quite assume that social networks, which we have known for barely ten years, are just a fad, since it is an absolute novelty for humans. Some kind of toy that humanity has never had before. So we can assume that in 10 years, more or less, this craze for selfies and sharing everything and anything will disappear and be replaced by another fad. And how can communication change this time around, no one really knows. I don’t think Marc Zukerberg knew from the beginning, being in his student room, what his small idea would become in 15 years.
The only thing I can say for sure is that man is a social animal. And it goes without saying for his survival and his well-being, man needs to socialize in a natural way. Without all those cameras, photoshops, phones, etc. So I think that, despite everything, humans will retain (thanks to the power of nature) their need to communicate in a human way and not digitally.
How much our communication will become impaired in the future is up to you. Because you shape tomorrow’s society today. Each of you! You will be the managers, directors and perhaps the thinkers of tomorrow. So what this world will become depends on everyone! The formula is very simple.
Now, regarding social intelligence and how it can be impaired by technology and big data. For me, despite all the definitions you can find on the internet, social intelligence is the art of living in society, that is to say in a group – a nation, a municipality, a village, a company, a school, a classroom, a couple. As soon as you are not alone, you are in society. Meaning: you have to adapt yourself. Meaning: the individualistic lifestyle, which has become the backbone of the way of life in western countries today, is not good for healthy living in society—the society on which we ALL depend and which we need to maintain and improve our standard of living. Because individually, it is impossible to achieve the same results that only the community is able to produce!
So, to me, technology can alter our style, speed, frequency and ease of communication. It can also alter our interaction in society, which is precisely part of social intelligence (and both are closely related). And we can already feel it today. But I think technology cannot destroy our social interaction because it is biologically vital for us. Technology can only modify it. How much? for better or for worse? Again, EVERYTHING depends on your generation and that of your children. That is to say: it depends on your behavior with this technology (which is your choice: do you spend all your time with it or do you leave enough time for typical communication for a social animal) AND it depends on your decisions as citizens and professionals throughout all your adult life.
And the last thing to finish. Today, we can read everywhere on the internet that our life is getting worse and worse. But it’s totally false, since in reality humanity has never lived as well as it does today – in all aspects. I won’t develop this point, since it is very long. But think about that and bear it in mind all your life, my young fellows.