“Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilization.” – Mahatma Ghandi
My great interest for cultural diversity was one step among others towards personal growth and fulfillment.Diversity is a great opportunity for all of us to rise curiosity and get exposed to different people and cultures. It gives us the chance to live outside our comfort zone to enhance our learnings, communicate better, and adapt accordingly. Personal growth is nothing but a personal engagement to reach a better you. Whatever the method or the subject based on, we need to understand where we are to know where we would like to go and to how to get through it.
Why do you think diversity is another component of personal development? How can cultural diversity contribute to our personal growth both at the personal and professional level? How understanding the cultural dimensions and characteristics can enhance our communication and interactions with people from different cultures and avoid biases?
We don’t need to live in highly diverse contexts to become tolerant and open to different cultures. We need to achieve it from inside first to be able to communicate, respect, and accept our differences. A culture will remain an independent identity that holds a set of beliefs, norms, habits, and values, and not a tool for measure that may lead to a subjective classification and stereotypes. Culture should be a subject of study and research to facilitate our interactions and communication to better control our reactions, lessen biases and misunderstanding. Comparison and classifications are obvious when it involves aspects related to population analysis and other useful data that can provide managers with the basic tools to decision making in international contexts. However, when it comes to culture and values, understanding and tolerance are the key factors to adopt.
Professor Geert Hofstede defines culture as “the collective programming of the mind distinguishing the members of one group or category of people from others.” He conducted a comprehensive study based on six dimensions that distinguish each culture such as power distance, individualism, long term orientation, and others. This theory has been sustained by many other approaches developed by other organizational anthropologists, like Philippe d’Iribarne who developed an in-depth ethnographic approach. When working on a deep case study, during my MBA learning process, about Morocco, France, and India, it revealed to me that the strength of these two approaches are when combined together which can provide us with a panoramic view about cultures.
The aim is not to dive into these approaches, but to emphasize on the importance of understanding them to stop our negative perceptions and make sense to our judgments. Still, these approaches should not be taken for granted as we are living in a world that is evolving considerably where values and beliefs are shifting too. They can serve us as basic tools for learning about other cultures but we need to add our own inputs, experience, and a human touch to understand the situation and the people we are dealing with.
Cultural differences should not separate us from each other, but allow us to evolve and grow together!
The 4 Main Elements to Adopt in Diverse Contexts
Tolerance comes from our acceptance to our differences; it is nurtured by our willingness to accept and learn from the others and not to judge people based on biases. It’s our attitude that defines us and not the culture we belong to. How many judgment we hold in our mind until we meet someone and we realize how far it was from our first perceptions. What about you? Are you in conscious or unconscious intolerance?
Tolerance may appear an evidence for those who embrace such values but it will remain a big issue for many others. Toleranceis not something that we display on our faces to facilitate our social integration or professional benefits, but it’s more about how we feel about it from inside when no one is around. Tolerance can be an open gate to a variety of opportunities as intolerance can be a closed door to your evolution and growth.
“Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit.” - Mahatma Ghandi
When tolerance is attained from inside, respect is returned. A lack of respect in different cultural contexts can turn into violating other human rights, sustain our stereotypes and keep setting us apart. Respect implies from us to keep positive relationships despite our different origins, religions, and opinions. We need simply to take time to learn about the others instead of relying on International surveys and mingling, for instance, between the rate of corruption about a specific country and their set of beliefs and values.
“We need to give each other the space to grow, to be ourselves, to exercise our diversity. We need to give each other space so that we may both give and receive such beautiful things as ideas, openness, dignity, joy, healing, and inclusion.” - Max De Pree
Diversity can stimulate and develop our curiosity. People working in diverse places have better chances to learn and grow. Many people in such contexts still focus more on the work to be achieved rather than adapting their styles and strategies to attain cultural harmony and mutual respect.
I had the chance to work, and meet people from different backgrounds and cultures that hold different values, attitudes, and beliefs. Every experience was meaningful as it allowed me to learn from people who have different backgrounds, beliefs, and perspectives; it also enabled me to dig deep into my own culture. It is natural to me to give this subject such interest as I belong to a wonderful country, that is Morocco which has always embraced values reflecting peace, respect and tolerance towards other nations.
“Diversity is not about how we differ. Diversity is about embracing one another’s uniqueness. If we cannot end our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity.” – John F. Kennedy
Communication & Adaptation
Communication is a very determining component in the development process as it is the gate through which we can transmit our thoughts and ideas and learn from the others. Communication is not about the message or the content; a good communication in diverse contexts is the ability to exchange thoughts and opinions and maintain a cultural harmony and acceptance.
How many of you are eager to prepare their business communication in a variety of formats to fit in different cultures and respond to employees holding different preferences?Some managers may view one-on-one meetings more productive, while others are more comfortable with a brief email exchange.
Adaptation is a coherent outcome when we adopt tolerance and become flexible about diversity. It is not about changing our values and beliefs but behaving in a culturally appropriate ways despite our differences. The more willingness we have toward adaptation, the more we get in terms of learning and cultural interactions and opportunities.
Managing diversity and attaining personal growth call for knowledge of our differences and require our adaptation skills to adhere to different levels of cultural contexts.
“If we cannot now end our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity.” – John F. Kennedy
“Don’t try to be perfect! Just be an excellent example of being human.” – Tony Robbins