A Different Way of Looking at Culture – by Karen Walch
Culture is a pattern that structures the connections between behavior, beliefs and emotions. To put it more simply, it is what is expected, reinforced and rewarded by and within a particular group. Culture is expressed in social norms and values, which help us make sense out of behaviors and connect our beliefs to our emotional experiences.
Deconstructing culture in this way helps us understand how we can dissociate behaviors, beliefs and emotions from one another, so that we can bridge the gaps that manifest between people at all levels of culture.
Growing Your Cultural Intelligence:
The first lesson of Cultural Intelligence is self-awareness. Do you know your cultural identities and your unconscious biases? Knowing your cultural makeup can not only help you relate more fully with others, but it also helps you develop empathy with others. Empathy has been labeled the top skill for someone who wants to fully engage the people around them.
To increase your self-awareness about your cultural identity, access the Cultural Orientations Indicator (COI) assessment in the Cultural Navigator. Once you have completed the assessment, spend some time reading about yourself on each of the 17 cultural orientations pages. You might learn something new about yourself!
Cultural Navigator Feature of the Month:
Have You Tried Gap Analysis?
Most workplace conflicts are caused by cultural gaps. The Gap Analysis allows you to do a side-by-side comparison of your COI with those of your colleagues, your team members, different functional units in your workplace and your organization as a whole. The Gap Analysis report spotlights any cultural gaps you may have and gives guidance on overcoming them to maximize communication and collaboration.
Connect with your colleagues and conduct a Gap Analysis from the Network section. From your Cultural Navigator Homepage, choose “Network” from the top navigation bar and choose “Colleagues” from the drop-down that appears. Add colleagues and begin your analysis.
Did You Know?
Do you like pointing things out to others? Be mindful of the cultural norms around the art of pointing.
It is common in Nicaragua for someone to point with their lips, instead of with a finger like other cultures might do. In Malaysia, the thumb is a more appropriate tool for pointing. In the German culture it is also not polite to point at another person—only at inanimate objects.
So, how does one point with their lips? That’s going to require some practice. Learn more about the history and culture of Nicaragua, Malaysia and Germany in the Cultural Navigator Country Guides.