Recognizing the value of emotions : an exploration of emotional resiliency and intercultural competence amongst international development workers
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Subjectcognitive schemas; emotion; intercultural competence; international development; multi-perspective; resilience
Intercultural competence is an important skill-set for international development workers. However, it can be more difficult to cultivate than academic models would indicate since it can be emotionally and mentally taxing for development workers to adapt to a foreign context. This research examines the experiences of 15 international development workers employed in Sub-Saharan Africa and explores the emotions involved in intercultural interactions and the process of building intercultural competence. Findings indicate that participants’ familiar action-sequences were disrupted during intercultural interactions, eliciting emotions that affected how intercultural competence was manifested. Emotions were often aroused in intercultural interactions because of participants’ unmet expectations, moral quandaries, construction /reconstruction of meaning, inapplicable frame of reference, or insufficient internal capacities. This research leads to the conclusion that increased recognition of the importance of emotions and greater emphasis by the sector on building emotional intelligence would likely support development workers in cultivating the skills required to navigate tough, complex environments. Greater support would likely increase their work effectiveness, resilience and personal well-being.
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