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IC Personal Competency 4: Flexibility

This quality enables people to act in a flexible way in many different contexts, adapting their behaviour and judgements according to circumstances. It entails a willingness to learn a wide range of behaviour patterns and to experiment with different ways of behaving and reacting.

Case Study Example
Towards the end of the first set of projects, the eChina-UK partners all agreed that we would hold a workshop in Beijing for as many as possible of the project members. We wanted to showcase what we had done so far to the Chinese Ministry of Education and to HEFCE, and we also wanted to have some time to share experiences across projects and to work jointly on a number of issues. The British developed an initial plan for the 3-day workshop, which included two days of small group activities with periodic plenary feedback and discussion sessions. The Chinese partners felt very uncomfortable with this and suggested a programme with three days of speeches, starting with an extended series of initial welcome-like talks.
At first the British were very disappointed, because they genuinely wanted the opportunity to discuss certain issues in small groups and to spend time finding ways to address them. When they arrived in Beijing, they found that the room booked for the conference was extremely formal, with heavy furniture, and that discussion in small groups would be genuinely difficult to arrange. At this point, they displayed flexibility of behaviour and accepted, with little or no resentment, that they needed to adjust to a much more formal style of interaction, and that this could also benefit the project – albeit in a different way.


cift_arrow.gif Tip: When you are in an unfamiliar situation, observe carefully how people behave. Reflect on how similar or different is it to the ways in which you would normally behave, and experiment with adjusting your own behaviour.