Cultural awareness in a multicultural world

My name is Keaton, and I am a white middle-class American, which are pretty common here in the state of Utah. Living in a state that is well-known for its lack of diversity provides an interesting challenge for someone like me, who is interested in topics like globalization, localization, and cross-cultural communication. Where can I go to find diversity? Where can I go to develop skills in order to help myself and others bridge cultural gaps? That is the goal of this blog, to educate myself and others around me in Logan on how to be more sensitive to cultural gaps, and discuss ways we can bridge those gaps effectively. Even if you don’t live in Logan, keep reading, these tips can be very helpful!

To begin with, I would like to discuss the concept of cultural awareness, I’ll be drawing from some of the ideas presented on the Cultural and Language (CAL) Learning blog, which is moderated by a company that specializes in cross-cultural communication in the workplace.

In one of their posts last year, they discussed four different stages of cultural awareness that people typically possess, they are:

Stage 1: People are all the same. 
While either misinformed or ignorant, these people believe that everyone views the world just about the same way they do.

Stage 2: Cultural differences exist, but my culture is the best.
These people have probably had negative experiences with people from different cultures, or they are just ethnocentric.

Stage 3: Other cultures are of value and I can learn from them.
Hey, this is absolutely true, and kudos to those people that are like this!

Stage 4:  More than one cultural frame of reference exists.
These kind of people are brilliant, because they can re-frame their conversation in order to direct it to people of different cultures.

While I am not very good at pigeonholing people into categories, I do find value in being able to define certain levels of cultural awareness, like CAL learning has done. I am certain that further research might indicate that there are numerous other stages in between these four, but I believe these four will suffice for now.

The reason why these are important is because we all have deficiencies in our awareness of culture, and these can cause some serious communication problems in any circumstance, but particularly in business and work environments. We can all benefit from examining  how culturally aware we are, and setting goals to improve our level of awareness.

Every time I am around people of different cultures I learn new and amazing things about them that can really benefit me and my perspective on life, and while I am not the most culturally aware person, I do feel like I am making improvements!

Where do you think you fit in?

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