Frameworks for understanding & managing diversity part 4. Values differences

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

scales of valuesThis is the fourth in a series of articles on frameworks for understanding and managing diversity. Part 1 looked at different developmental stages. Part 2 looked at the huge issue of cultural diversity. Part 3 looked at the sensitive question of religious differences. This article builds on the previous articles and looks at values differences.

Each person has a unique hierarchy of values which determine their actions and filter the information they take in. If a person eats lots of unhealthy fast food, it is because they place a higher value on eating than on their health. If a person neglects their spouse to work 80 hours a week in their job, it is because they place a higher value on their work (or what their work gives them) than on spending time with their spouse. Someone for whom sports is a high-ranking value will read the newspapers differently to another person who values being informed about politics or foreign affairs. They might watch the same TV news and remember quite different things from it. (more…)

Frameworks for understanding & managing diversity part 3. Religious differences

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

Symbols of religionThis is the third in a series of articles on frameworks for understanding and managing diversity. Part 1 looked at different developmental stages. Part 2 looked at the huge issue of cultural diversity. This article aims to give an appreciation of the role that religion plays.

There is much overlap between religion and culture. In most traditional societies they are practically inseperable whereas in other societies, particularly European cultures, they are much more separate. It may be possible to be a non-religious Italian, but for most Africans before colonisation (and even in many cases today) it would be inconceivable to belong to a culture without religion.

So what is religion? Like culture, it is a set of values, codes of behaviour and relationships which are expressed through story, arts and rituals. It may also include metaphysical ideas about supernatural phenomena – God or spirits. Religion gives its adherents a sense of meaning and purpose for their lives, a set of ethics and practices to help navigate the trials and temptations of life, and a community to belong to for mutual support. (more…)

Frameworks for understanding & managing diversity part 2. Cultural differences.

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Cultural differencesWhat is culture? How does it shape us?

These are not easy questions to answer. We are as immersed in culture as a fish in water. We take it for granted, like the air we breathe, to the point where it is invisible to us.  Often the time when our culture becomes more visible is when we spend an extended time living in another culture, and then return home. The well-known phenomenon of “reverse culture shock” is the opening of our eyes to things in our own culture that we are seeing, as if for the first time.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines culture as:

a : the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations b : the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group; also : the characteristic features of everyday existence (as diversions or a way of life} shared by people in a place or time <popular culture> <southern culture> c : the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization <a corporate culture focused on the bottom line> d : the set of values, conventions, or social practices associated with a particular field, activity, or societal characteristic. (more…)

Workplace conflict resolution – Understanding our communications filters

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

Communications skills for workplace conflict resolutionMiscommunication is a common cause of workplace conflict. In these cases, successful conflict resolution requires improving communications skills and understanding our communications filters.

Every second our senses send millions and millions of bits of information to our brains for processing. Our eyes capture more information than the highest resolution digital camera. Our ears hear more detail than can be produced by the most expensive 24-bit recordings. Every hair on our arms feels the slightest breeze etc. (more…)

Understanding different communication styles – Informational vs Relationship focussed.

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Workplace conflict and misunderstanding can come through failure to comunicate well. For this reason we need to improve our understanding of different communication styles. One common difference is between Informational & Relationship focussed communication.

All communication between people has two aspects to it: the exchange of information and the development of a relationship. Some people are more focussed on the information while others are more focussed on the relationship. These preferences are partly influenced by culture and gender. Typically, the Western preference is more towards information, while Indigenous cultures are more relational. Similarly, men tend more towards information exchange while women are more relationship orientated. But across all cultures and genders, individual people will have different preferences on the spectrum.

This can lead to all kinds of problems. (more…)