Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A cultural compass

I am an exceedingly culturally aware person. I don't say this to throw flowers on myself, because more often than not, this means that I second-guess and over-analyse the world around me.

Today was a big holiday in town and my colleagues and I went visiting co-workers and friends. As we were chatting with new acquaintances and doing our best to celebrate the local holiday in the best possible local-but-we're-not-locals way, I realised that my cultural compass is very different from theirs. My cultural compass represents several different cultures and is somewhat mobile, but it still points me in a direction of how I would describe "good" behaviour.

How does a person know which cultural compass to use?


alittlebitograce said...

i struggle with this in some situations when no matter which behaviour i use, i offend someone. for example, in asian cultures it is more important not to shame someone while in western culture, telling the truth is more important. this leads to trouble when my chinese friend asks when my baby is due. if i lie, it will come back to bite me. if i tell the truth, i cause my friend to feel embarrassed. in that situation, i told the truth, but in a very gentle way with lots of humour so i think they escaped feeling awkward. still so awkward for me though!

TALON said...

What a thought-provoking post. Growing up with different cultures, I learned that just being me and representing who I am was my only choice. Otherwise I stumbled all over the place.

Craig and Bethany said...

Humor and kindness just sort of glue together all the mistakes, I guess. Very thoughtful post.

Jodi said...

It's a gift I think to be culturally sensitive, because everyone deserves to be treated with respect and dignity.

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