Mirror Image: Know Your Own Culture to Understand Others Essay

Those that work or reside around people from other cultures comprehend the importance of learning about the distinctions surrounding them. What exactly is frequently ignored, but is the equal importance of knowing one's own tradition, values and opinions in order to relate more effectively across social lines.

Knowing of our own culture is important, as it can keep united states from projecting our values onto others. By projecting, I mean the universal tendency to consider others are doing something for the same reasons we might. This could easily happen as soon as we are unaware of the values that drive united states and struggling to differentiate them from those held by other countries.

Our company is like a fish in a seafood dish. The fish swims inside the bowl surrounded by water and glass, but unacquainted with their existence. Vital, the fish does not recognize these substances alter its view for the outside globe. Our tradition is much like that water and cup. We see the entire world through a distorting display produced by our deeply held, frequently subconscious, values and opinions.

Mainstream US culture, for example, respects direct attention contact. Those created and raised in this culture assume those who never look us within the attention are dishonest, weak and evasive. In comparison, many Asian countries train that avoiding attention contact is respectful and considerate. What this means is an American company is likely to interpret an Asian-born applicant's lowered eyes as a sign of dishonesty, as he is just showing respect the interviewer.

Know Your Very Own Cultural Values

The first step toward solving this issue is obvious: discover the maximum amount of about other cultures as you are able to. The second step is too usually forgotten: Understand yours presumptions about gestures, communication style or other cultural characteristics that impact your impression of the outside globe. This may seem easy, but it is maybe not. Our very own culture is such part of united states that — like water surrounding the fish — we are unaware of its existence. Some of us get as far as to think about our personal tradition as human instinct and, to create things more serious, as one that all should conform.

Study from Observation and Interaction

Therefore if knowing one's own culture just isn't automated, how do we accomplish this knowledge? The clear answer lies in visibility and observation. First, be around other countries. The next phase is impossible minus the possibility to interact with those who are not the same as you. Second, whenever around people from different countries, watch for three things: moments of stress, misunderstanding and anger.

When one of these takes place, do not panic. Observe yourself and your tradition. What did you do just before the strain, misunderstanding or anger arose? That act is element of your culture and ended up being probably one factor into the moment's dynamic. That which you did was not necessarily wrong, but bear in mind it grew from the culturally conditioned values and actions. Additionally, ask yourself: «exactly what presumption ended up being we making in regards to the situation before the negativity started?» Those presumptions, like your behavior, expanded from your tradition. Examining them can help awaken the social self-awareness that's so essential in making cross-cultural relationships work. Yes, familiarity with other cultures is essential, but taking a look at ourselves can show us as much about cross-cultural understanding as all the anthropology books on earth.

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