Self-awareness is fundamental in raising cultural competence.
If you are unable to understand yourself, it will be difficult to understand another.
One crucial area that needs close attention is that of our natural biases and how these can get in the way of making good decisions.
An easy way to help us understand how people from different cultures view and interpret the world is to think of a cultural lens.
We all wear a pair of unique lenses.
Our lenses are formed by the culture(s) in which we live.
These lenses filter the world for us and helps us to make decisions as to what is right or wrong, acceptable or unacceptable.
We all have a slightly different type of lens filtering our world which means that those with different coloured lenses, can and will see things differently to us.
So, the cultural lens analogy helps us understand that we all have a natural tendency to see things differently and that we typically use these perceptions to form judgements as to what is right, wrong, acceptable or unacceptable.
These lenses are heavily shaped by our cultures whether national or otherwise.
We should remind ourselves that culture is also fluid. So, although all of us wear lenses we wear lenses that will change throughout the day, the year and throughout our lives.
The only way to find out if the filters that we use in our lenses are giving us a true picture of reality is to start by understanding ourselves, especially acknowledging our influences as well as how we come to decisions about the world around us.
Want to explore the idea of the cultural lens?
This forms part of our module on self-awareness in our Cultural Awareness e-Learning Course.