A common misconception held by many is that cultural awareness is a skill you either have or you don't have, or, at the very least, is a skill that can be learned through training.
Well, this simply is not true.
Cultural awareness is not necessarily a skill per se. A skill is more about the ability to do something well or very well.
Being culturally aware is a lot simpler than it sounds. It does not require a college degree, qualifications in emotional intelligence or a lifetime's experience of travelling the world. Nor does it require you to learn a new set of skills, whether physical or mental.
Cultural awareness in essence is about being aware that as people from different cultures, we can and will sometimes look at the same thing in different ways.
You just need to be open to the fact that we are not all the same, or meant to be the same, and that when working with people from different cultures, we may sometimes need to check the assumptions we are making and conclusions we are drawing about others' intentions and behaviours.
By acknowleding the role culture sometimes plays in our interactions with others, and understanding how to identify and manage cross-cultural challenges, we help create positive outcomes based on solid decision making.
Cultural awareness is not something that can only be achieved through a training course or similar. It is something that can be developed through reading, travel, asking questions and mingling with people from different cultures.
Within business and commerce, being culturally aware means you understand how cultures can differ in the their approaches to areas such as building trust, communication, meetings, pitches, management, sales, negotiating and what is expected in the workplace.
Using these insights, cultural awareness allows you to find common ground between approaches and bring about successful outcomes.
So, if you think cultural awareness is a skill that you can't have, then think again - it's a lot simpler than you think.
Looking for some formal training on cultural awareness? Take a look at our excellent online course cultural competence course - digital training via our LMS, 24/7 access, resources, quizzes & certificate.