Self-awareness is fundamental in raising cultural competence.
If you are unable to understand yourself, it will be very difficult to understand another.
One crucial area that needs close attention is that of our very natural unconscious biases and how these can get in the way of making good decisions.
Another is our stereotypes of 'others' - whether people of different skin colours, religions, neighbourhoods or sexual persuasion.
Both our biases and stereotypes (as well as a whole load of other factors!) colour how we see the world - they colour our lens.
The Concept of the Culture Lens
We all wear a pair of unique glasses.
They're invisible. 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.
Have you heard of the Michigan Fish Test? Well, go and read more about it because that's a fascinating example of how our cultures control and determine what we see.
At this point 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 More About the Cultural Lens?
Well, this topic forms part of our module on Self-Awareness in our online Cultural Awareness e-Learning training Course.
You can watch the video of this section for free below! You're welcome!