The purpose of this assignment is to discover what cultural competency is and how it affects the culture of a business.
The Culturally Competent Perspective
Cultural competence is a culmination of values, knowledge gained over time and with training that allows a company to work with others effectively regardless of cultural differences. (National Center for Cultural Competence) An environment of cultural competence is created over time with demonstrated efforts towards inclusion, cultural knowledge and communication.
Culture Impacts Communication
Culture can have a direct impact on communication. Understanding the nonverbal cue of another culture can help bridge the gap or avoid misunderstandings. Culture is combination of beliefs, values and practices shared by a society; a people who live in a definable community, like America. (OpenStax College, 2016) If you breakdown culture and look as its factors you will see that is comprises of many things that affect cross-cultural communication. Beliefs are the tenets and convictions we consider to be true (OpenStax College, 2016). Our values tell us what is a good or bad behavior. Our practices are a reflection of our beliefs and values. Here are three ways culture can impact our communication:
A bias is a tendency to lean toward one this over another, they help us make decisions. They can be positive or negative. In the negative our biases can lead to exclusionary and discriminatory behavior. These negative biases can cause miscommunication.
Cultural imperialism is the the deliberate imposition of one’s own cultural values on another culture. (OpenStax College, 2016) Historically many cultures have been subject to cultural imperialism. It’s negative impacts have been documented globally. Cultural imperialism has resulted in revolt from the subjected culture, genocide and loss of native societies. In America, the native tribes perceived the coming of Europeans as a threat by nonverbal communication. The norms and sanctions we upheld by an understanding that certain lands were that of certain tribes. So the incoming of foreigners was perceived as a violation. There were instances where tribes and Europeans learned to communicate by mutual cultural relativism and body language.
Ethnocentrism is to evaluate another culture according to the standards of one’s own culture. (OpenStax College, 2016) The key to overcoming this can be to acknowledge that we are coming from our own perspective and develop ways to see another culture from it’s own standards. This can be achieved by openly communicating with someone from that culture with openness and respect.
While a large portion of our communication today is verbal there are some nonverbal cues we need to pay attention to. Prior to formal language social groups would communicate nonverbal cues and sounds and even use music as a method of communicating with each other. Things like social norms, facial expressions and gestures are all ways of communicating nonverbally. Social norms are defined as “how to behave in accordance to what society has defined and good, right and important”.(OpenStax College, 2016) Social norms can vary greatly from one culture to another.
For example, in the many African and Middle Eastern countries seeing two men holding hands implies friendship. (OpenStax College, 2016) In America this implies homosexuality. Two other aspects of communication in this area of the world, and Cuba also, is the physical proximity and animation (gesturing) of people when they have a conversation. They tend to stand very close to each other, speak loudly and use talk with their hands. An American looking at this conversation and unable to speak the language may think this is an argument. Even with the American in the conversation he/she may feel uneasy due to the volume and animation of the other person. We want to be mindful not to take offense to this nonverbal communication.
The Role of Culture
When in a situation where these cues are unfamiliar it best to practice cultural relativism. Cultural relativism is the act of assessing a culture based on its own standards rather than that of your own. (OpenStax College, 2016) This can ease the onset of culture shock and create a more open-minded and enjoyable experience for both cultures.
One’s culture plays a vital role in the interaction between people. In 1868, Jack Renton was confronted with death at the hands of natives on Maana'oba Island. Its is said that he survived by offering his skills as a builder in order to survive. How did he do this with people who did not speak his language and are of a very different culture? He gestured to them that he had things they could use. He pointed to his cache of supplies and food. He lived with them from 1868 to 1875. He learned the language and assimilated into their culture in order to survive. (National Center for Cultural Competence, 2009)
A more modern example of how culture plays a role in social relations is social media. The internet has had a profound effect on how we communicate globally. Today’s culture is that of constant information sharing and consumption. Twitter and Facebook are on all day, even live like television. “The Internet and social media are very powerful tools that can influence and shape human behavior. The social media has played a significant role in recent outbreaks of social protest and resistance.” (Furedi, 2013) In recent years, police have been under fire for killing unarmed men and women of color. Social media played a large role in carrying the message and video to the public very quickly. The ability for the public to communicate with each other directly and on this scale has allowed people across the world to know what’s going on and support or denounce it. Not only are people coming together in protest, they are forming relationships on the internet, working via the internet and getting their education via the internet. Although the internet is available worldwide there are some cultures such as, China, North Korea and Iran that control or even ban the use of the internet. (USA, 2014) These places dictate who, if anyone, can use the internet and what they use it for. In Iran, “Bloggers must register at the Ministry of Art and Culture. Those that express opposition to the mullahs who run the country are harassed and jailed.” (USA, 2014) Much of these restrictions are political or religious, two institutions that have a direct impact on culture.
A personal example would be the culture clash between African-Americans and Africans. My husband had a negative view of Africans early in our relationship. He even preferred to call himself black instead of African-American at one point. His perception came from several interactions where he felt disrespected. In American culture things like personal space, open/holding doors are expected. There was certainly some ethnocentrism and xenocentrism happening during these interactions. Overtime he came to learn that not holding doors for the person behind you or butting in line are thing things that are the norm in their country. In some cases these people have a hierarchy in their country and they come here with a similar demeanor. These interactions between African-American and Africans culture is not as common as it was a decade ago.
Today living in a America we are surrounded by people from a variety of cultures and religions. We must coexist and learn ways to communicate without biases or xenocentrism. We are living in an era of diffusion, the spread of material and nonmaterial culture from one culture to another, social media and globalization. Making the world feel smaller than ever. These factors make cross cultural competence more important. The tension between religion practices and cultures can
Benefits of Cultural Competence
Developing cross cultural communication skills can be beneficial for organizations both internally and externally. From an external standpoint, the ability to:
Manage the dynamics of difference
Acquire and institutionalize cultural knowledge and
Adapt to diversity and the cultural contexts of the communities they serve” will allow companies like Society for New Americans and Spokes of Hope.
Companies who maintain an inclusive, supportive internal environment tend to have more productive employees. This, in turn, makes completing the company's missions more successful.
OpenStax College. (2016, May 16). Introduction to Sociology. Retrieved July 09, 2017, from http://cnx.org/contents/afe4332a-c97f-4fc4-be27-4e4d384a32d8%407.23%3A15153144-060d-4393-8418-f6b3c9f1656e
Moore, Clive. "Solomon Islands Historical Encyclopaedia 1893-1978." Renton, John - Biographical Entry - Solomon Islands Historical Encyclopaedia. Solomon Islands Historical Encyclopaedia, 2013. Web. 09 July 2017.
National Center for Cultural Competence. "Conceptual Frameworks / Models, Guiding Values and Principles." Conceptual Frameworks / Models, Guiding Values and Principles :: National Center for Cultural Competence. NCCC, 2009. Web. 09 July 2017.
Furedi, F. (2013). How The Internet and Social Media Are Changing Culture. Retrieved July 09, 2017, from https://www.aspen.review/article/2017/how-the-internet-and-social-media-are-changing-culture/
Today, U. (2014, February 05). Top 10 Internet-censored countries. Retrieved July 09, 2017, from https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2014/02/05/top-ten-internet-censors/5222385/
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