This post is part of a series exploring the steps necessary to develop a global mindset, which helps you become cross-culturally aware in any situation—regardless of how well you know, or don’t know, any given culture.

Everyone in the workforce needs to think globally nowadays, even if you never leave your desk. At RW3 CultureWizard, we define “global mindset” as the ability to recognize cultural signals — the unique values and experiences that shape the ways people think and do things — and intuitively adjust your behavior to be a more effective global businessperson.

Professionals who leverage a global mindset are more open to and accepting of cultural differences. Such an awareness can pave the way for more creative and productive collaboration when working across cultures.

Self-Awareness Leads to Cross-Cultural Awareness

In order to develop a global mindset, you have to know yourself and what you value. Consider how your values and biases are bound to your upbringing as a member of a specific cultural group (or groups) and how that has fed into the workplace preferences and habits you’ve formed over time.

By exploring your life experiences, you also will gain the perspective that those you work with have their own unique stories that inform their expectations for how to succeed in a professional environment.

By way of a personal example, I grew up in Southern California. My father, who had emigrated from Germany, required that I ask his permission before inviting friends over. He also expected my friends to greet him when they arrived. This was very different from most of my friends’ parents, who were far more informal and easygoing.

Over time, I realized my father’s expectations stemmed from his rather hierarchical German culture, where, especially in his era, the home was considered a very private space, and the division between private and public spheres was clearly marked and respected.

It next dawned on me how my father’s heritage informed my own value system and world view, even in the workplace. For example, I tend to have a more hierarchical view of leadership structure than many of my colleagues. Exploring these cultural differences and their origins has helped me better understand and develop a non-judgmental perspective of other people’s behaviors. As a result, I’m better able to communicate across cultures.

Deepening Your Own Sense of Self-Awareness

Self-assessment tools are a great way to start raising cultural awareness and developing your global mindset. For example, RW3’s CultureWizard Culture Calculator  will show you how your workplace values and preferences compare with other cultures across eight cultural dimensions. This can give you a feel for what value differences might impact your ability to work effectively in a cross-cultural environment.

Another way is to create a life map. Chart out the experiences you’ve been through, the people you’ve met, influential figures or mentors, the places you’ve been, and more. Try to pinpoint how these moments shaped your perspective on life, yourself, your relationships, and the workplace and professional environment. You can even turn your life map into a “global mindset” art project, of sorts, to help you visually reconnect with your authentic self.

Now you’ve read this post, listen to my podcast: Step 1 in Developing a Global Mindset.