What Exactly Is Cultural Sensitivity, and How Does It Grow?

What Exactly Is Cultural Sensitivity, and How Does It Grow?

What Exactly Is Cultural Sensitivity, and How Does It Grow?
What Exactly Is Cultural Sensitivity, and How Does It Grow?

What Exactly Is Cultural Sensitivity, and How Does It Grow?

When you go to a different nation for work, whether you are a manager or an employee, the prospect of adjusting to a new culture may be rather scary. When you need to cooperate with individuals of different backgrounds on a team inside your own nation, the same thing may be stated.

In today’s increasingly globalized corporate climate, it might be difficult to differentiate between domestic and international job assignments. However, bridging cultural divides remains a challenge in any scenario. A culturally sensitive approach can make the transition more manageable.

A person who is culturally sensitive is someone who is aware of and respectful of differences in other cultures. It indicates that you are able to successfully cope with these disparities and that you are able to refrain from passing judgment on traditions that originate in other cultures.

A cross-cultural partnership cannot exist without cultural awareness on both sides. However, it is absolutely necessary in the context of international working ties, such as those that exist in the commercial world or the public sector.

For instance, a number of studies have shown that employees at all levels of an organization are better able to negotiate and achieve their goals when they demonstrate cultural sensitivity.

Understanding the intricacies of culture, which are represented in body language, speech patterns, and traditions enables a worker to better understand and interact with colleagues, business partners, affiliates, and consumers on a more fundamental level.

For example, in western society, a firm handshake is not only appropriate but also anticipated. On the other hand, that is not the case in Thailand. Instead, you will be given a way, which is a bow in which your palms are brought together in front of your chest, and you are expected to reciprocate it. Only if the other person does not provide a way should you offer a handshake as a greeting.

There hasn’t been a lot of study done that looks at how cultural sensitivity grows and evolves over time, despite the fact that there is widespread agreement that the value of cultural sensitivity in the workplace cannot be overstated.

An investigation on the phases of cultural sensitivity development was carried out by researchers Jon Shapiro, Julie Ozanne, and Bige Saatcioglu. The researchers focused on how these stages may be applied to the experiences of businesspeople who are working in other countries. The findings are also applicable to circumstances in which workers from different backgrounds are required to collaborate inside the same nation as their place of residence.

The article titled “An Interpretive Examination of the Development of Cultural Sensitivity in International Business” was written by Shapiro and his colleagues, and it was published in the Journal of International Business Studies.

According to the findings of their inquiry, there are four phases of growth associated with cultural sensitivity: the amorous sojourner, the foreign worker, the skilled worker, and the spouse. The researchers explain these phases by referring to how naturally people progress depending on their previous experiences. Training that is effectively planned to include several cultures has the ability to facilitate faster forward movement along the path of growth.

A wanderer in a foreign place is the embodiment of the romantic sojourner.

At this point in their cultural awareness, the business professional is no different from a tourist. They are swept up in the excitement and allure of experiencing a new culture, which has captivated and enthralled them. They are more of a spectator than an active participant in cultural activities.

They could be thrilled at the prospect of getting to know people from different culture. What they don’t know is that what they are typically witnessing are that culture’s “tourist manners,” and that they aren’t actually looking all that much farther into the depths of the society.

Participation in local cultural events, such as festivals and parades, is often the limit of the romantic sojourner’s engagement with people of the host culture; nonetheless, the romantic sojourner will still engage in these activities.

This is the fundamental contact, and there is not much more to it. It may seem and feel as if you are immersed in the culture, but in reality, you are just scratching the surface, particularly in regard to the professional working culture.

It is quite similar to a romantic relationship. At first, they are over heels in love, giddy with the excitement of a fresh relationship and new adventures. However, everyone is acting as politely as possible, and they do not actually know each other on a profound or intimate level.

They are just scratching the surface of everything, and they are approaching it more like a getaway or a vacation rather than a home scenario in which they are completely submerged in the culture.

Everything sparkles and glows with enchantment when seen through the lens of the romantic traveler. It is not practical, and as a result, it will lead to a significant amount of disappointment for them.

They have a romanticized conception of the culture and are infatuated with it, but they are not yet familiar with the components of the culture that are often hidden from those who are not a part of it.

The Overseas Employee: An Overview of the Commercial Aspects

The sentimental, naive, and idealistic romantic sojourner is ultimately succeeded by the foreign worker. At this point in the process of developing cultural sensitivity, the person has a more accurate perspective of the norms of the host culture. As the superficial attraction gives way to something more substantial, as the absorption evolves into something deeper, they receive their first genuine experience of the cultural norms of the area.

When a person stops acting like a wide-eyed traveler and begins to participate in the routine activities of their profession and daily life, they have entered this stage of development.

They take in their surroundings, both on a personal and a professional level, and attempt to situate themselves into the culture of the setting. Then, they start to see the deeper levels that they weren’t able to notice or didn’t know there while they were just tourists.

At this point in the process, the worker first takes on the role of an observer but, as time goes on, matures into one of an active participant. They start to participate in the cultural traditions and rituals that are more true to their heritage, adjusting to them as a way of life in the process.

Business associates of the person who are indigenous to the local culture start encouraging the foreign worker to take part in and attend events associated with them. This is one of the milestones that the foreign worker must pass in order to get beyond the stage of the amorous sojourner.

When foreign worker is exposed to the local culture for a longer period of time, they are able to form a more accurate perception of that society. They get a more nuanced understanding of the cultural traditions that are commonly practiced.

They learn to participate in actual local social behaviors, but at this time it is more about mimicking than true absorption. However, they do learn how to interact with others in the local community. At this point, they may engage in pretend play or role playing, but even these activities are an important part of the process of developing cultural awareness.

At this stage, the foreign worker is often confronted with the realization that they are, in fact, an alien in their new environment. It’s possible that they’ll experience culture shock and lose their sense of wonder, but at the same time, they’ll develop a more grounded perspective and outlook. As they get more ingrained in the culture of the company, they will inevitably become more ingrained in the social culture as well.

The Knowledgeable Foreigner Is Considered To Be The Skilled Worker

Those international workers who are able to persevere and successfully navigate the necessary cultural adjustments eventually mature into proficient employees. They have developed a far more profound familiarity with the culture of the host country by the time they reach this cultural sensitivity level. In addition to this, their relationships with the people with whom they do business are better developed.

The mentality has shifted, and now, rather than only seeming to be diplomatic on the surface, they are truly concerned with maintaining their ties with those who are a part of the indigenous culture.

At this point, the talented worker transforms into a cautious politician, despite the fact that they still feel a little bit like a fish out of water. They make a concerted effort to conform their social behaviors and traditions to those that are typical of the culture in which they are living. Both in terms of one’s professional life and one’s personal life, interacting with people of the local culture is quickly becoming second nature.

At this point in their development of cultural awareness, they are quite astute observers. The expert personnel observe their surroundings and then emulate habits that will help them to remain undetected. They avoid or get rid of unwanted activities that would make them stand out more than others. They have a far higher level of talent when it comes to acting and role-playing.

It is also noteworthy to notice that at this level in their careers, individuals have a tendency to restrict the scope of their commercial ties to something that they can individually handle. This enables individuals to cultivate connections that are deeper and more fulfilling for them. They start to rely on the local members who are business colleagues rather than turning to agents of their own culture, which leads to a dependency problem.

As a result of the skilled worker’s interactions with members of the local culture, the worker and the members of the community create connections that are familiar and close. As time goes on, individuals start to develop an awareness of the host culture that is more grounded in reality. They start to acknowledge its value.

They accept their place within the culture and are content with what they are able to learn from it, despite the fact that they are aware, on some level, that they are not a part of it and never will be, at least to some degree.

The Partner: Adapting well to a different culture

A high level of cultural awareness is something that not all professionals are able to acquire. It involves a lot of labor, as well as patience and endurance. When the worker has reached this point, they have reached the point when they are most sensitive to cultural differences. They have successfully negotiated the establishment of a company culture that is founded on trusting relationships with one another.

Partners educate one another and get an in-depth understanding of the complexities of the culture while also searching for areas of common ground. However, they abandoned all hopes of becoming a part of the culture of the area they were in.

At this point in their development as culturally sensitive individuals, people do not forget or reject the existence of their own culture. They are not pushing their own histories to the side in any way. Instead, many people discover a newfound respect for their own culture as well as a better knowledge of it as a result of their travels. They have become more appreciative of aspects of their own culture that in the past they had taken for granted.

This fresh perspective and sense of calm enable the partner to enjoy both professional and personal connections to a greater extent. The spouse is completely submerged in the local culture, but at the same time, they maintain a sense of equilibrium and are happy with their job.

The road toward “cultural sensitivity” is a long and difficult one, but it has the potential to be tremendously rewarding. Misunderstandings of other cultures are almost certain to surface early on.

These hiccups become increasingly less frequent for an individual as that person gets more acclimated to and involved in the culture of another country.

Coming to terms with another culture is similar to the process of forming any other relationship, which involves earning trust one step at a time.

It comes to rest in a tranquility that isn’t perfect but doesn’t have to be because it doesn’t have to be. The person discovers, adopts, and accepts their own unique position within the local culture in order to integrate as seamlessly as possible.