Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Cultural Challenges

I have recently embarked on yet another educational journey. At the moment I am absorbing information on trying to become a more ethical and culturally aware individual. It has turned out, must to my surpise,, that this stuff is actually pretty interesting. I thought I might share a recent assignment I attempted:

The assignment - Think about the cultural challenges you have explored in this course. Describe and analyze some major conflicts and issues for all diverse groups relative to interpersonal and intrapersonal cultural challenges.

My thoughts -

As stated in the text, “diversity refers to any mixture of items characterized by differences and similarities” (Harvey & Allard, 2009 p.11). This definition does not necessarily apply specifically to the human race. When speaking to the human race, this writer would further the definition and state, diversity refers to any mixture of individuals characterized by differences within similarities. As individuals it seems as though we share general similarities within different cultures such as, a language, a job, and simply that we are human. This writer notices that conflicts and issues can be present when our language, work ethic, and gender are different.

Language in general can create conflict in the sense that it can be a communication barrier. Harvey and Allard suggest that, “conversation is fundamentally ritual in the sense that we speak in ways our culture has conventionalized and expect certain types of responses” (Harvey & Allard, 2009 p. 137). When considering the interpersonal and intrapersonal are greatly affected by language differences including, tone, phrases, and sentence structure. In Hyatt’s article, Found In Translation How To Make The Multicultural Work Force Work, he describes that the CEO found that throughout his courses to help employees work more effectively together that, “The highest hurdle, of course, has been communication” ( Hyatt, 2006 p. 41). While as human beings we all use language in some way, the way we use language creates the difference in our similarity.

Since the earliest days in history this writer considers working a part of individual’s lives. While jobs can differ within cultures, there seems to be a similar idea that members of a culture are responsible for a specific job or task. Again, while it is a similarity for individual’s to “work”, the differences across cultures can create issues. Lockwood states in her article, “different groups have different needs, and they want their needs recognized and met” (Lockwood, 2005). This writer finds that there is importance that needs to be placed on the various needs of employees. Employers that recognize such differences and address them on an individual and team level will help decrease conflict in the workplace.

While us as individuals all share the fact that we are human, such differences as gender can create challenges and conflicts. In many cases within cultures men and women are viewed differently. We have all heard the generalizations such as men are stronger, more logical, while women are less strong and more emotional. When speaking about gender, cultural differences in a diverse environment are difficult to avoid on an interpersonal and intrapersonal level. This writer finds it imperative to recognize the differences and encourage awareness of self and other when working with individuals from various backgrounds. Bringing awareness and understanding to a diverse group can alleviate conflicts.

Well there you have it.

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