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Developing Cultural Competence

Developing an understanding of various cultures is becoming increasingly important in the workplace because, according to the latest U.S. Census reports, one in every three Americans belongs to a racial or ethnic minority group (1). Building a deeper awareness and appreciation of others' beliefs, values, and attitudes will lead to effective client/customer relationships inside and outside of the country as well as provide you with different perspectives on how to approach issues or problems. Here are a couple suggestions on how to improve your cultural competence:

1) Develop cultural sensitivity. Be alert to possible cultural differences when interacting with people from a different country. Take the initiative to introduce yourself to people who are from other cultures.

2) Respect all workers and cultures. Simple respect for others and their cultures is foundational.

3) Minimize cultural bloopers. Carefully study and observe persons from another culture. Learn their norms, beliefs, values, and attitudes, and learn from your mistakes.

4) Participate in cultural training. Cross-cultural training is offered by community education providers, through formal courses at the university, and informally by various international clubs and organizations. Also consider investigating applicable volunteer opportunities in a culture other than your own.

Here are some additional resources that will add you in your cross-cultural training:

Culturelink Network
Getting Through Customs
Kwintessential Language and Culture Specialists

Ref: Human Relations for Career and Personal Success by Andrew J. DuBrin