Posts Tagged ‘Intercultural communication’


Discover the Other, Discover yourself

Monday, July 1st, 2013
Image: 'Dialogue' by Viennese artist Oskar Kokoshka

‘Dialogues’ by Viennese artist Oskar Kokoschka. From his book ‘The Dreaming Youths’

Discovering the Other goes hand in hand with Discovering Yourself. You cannot have one without the other.

On the one hand, you cannot discover your own identity except, as J Krishnamurti puts it, ‘through the mirror of relationships’. All of us have a self-image which is different from the way other people see us. You might think you are smart while other people see you as a fool – or vice-versa. You might think you are good looking, while others see you as ugly (again, or vice-versa). You might think you are fair and honest while others see you as a selfish schemer. Only by listening to the perspectives of others can we correct the distorted picture we have of ourselves. I’m not saying that other people’s perspectives are any less distorted than your own. But by allowing your own self-image to be challenged by others you can gradually come to a deeper understanding of yourself. (more…)

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…)