Facilitator Journal | Issue #0162| July 20, 2004 | 8,000 Subscribers...
This week's article, "How
Culturally Competent Are You?" was
contributed by my friend Kaveh Nayeri, a business and personal coach
who grew up in Iran and has lived and worked in America for 27 years.
Kaveh draws on his life experience living in Iran and the United States,
his professional experiences counseling majority, minority, and immigrant
clients, his marriage to a Lithuanian, his many experiences in European
countries, writing books in two languages, and his current work with
English-speaking and Farsi-speaking media in the U.S.
On a personal note, I'm leaving today to drive to Colorado for a bit
of a vacation, to visit and play with a couple of close friends, and
hopefully to meet with Ken Wilber who has invited me to discuss a
model of Integral Facilitation I've been working on. I'll keep you
posted on how all this turns out and will be sharing more with you
about the integral model as I flesh it out.
any of you have any interesting stories or experiences about facilitation,
group process, work groups, team building, training, etc. that might interest
our readers, please send
them to us.
Culturally Competent Are You?
Building your skills in inter-cultural
I once assigned an exercise for a class of students at a Los Angeles high
school. The objective was to determine the number of different cultural
backgrounds that existed in this class. I was surprised to find that this
class of 29 students came from 21 different cultural backgrounds, a much
higher number than I had expected.
Of all the countries
that I have visited, the United States is the most culturally diverse.
Our wealth of cultures presents us with many opportunities not available
to more culturally homogeneous nations.
In this article we'll
explore the benefits of realizing our cultural potential, the consequences
of not achieving this goal, and some tips on improving your cultural competency,
an imminent concern for group workers exposed to a growing cultural mix.
Benefits of Embracing Diverse Cultures. Embracing the
many cultures that make up America bring many benefits to our organizations,
families, and society. Here are just a few:
- Releasing and employing
the unique knowledge and skills inherent in each culture.
- Creating cultural
synergy by joining cultures.
- Enhancing productivity
and loyalty by recognizing and supporting employee cultural needs.
- Enhancing the
image of American organizations by demonstrating cultural capability.
- Improving the
ability of American professionals to successfully conduct business in
- Validating and
strengthening the American cultural self esteem and identity.
What we miss
when we fail to embrace diversity. The consequences of failing
to understand and validate our many cultures are also significant. Here
are a few consequences:
- Loss of cultural
and individual skills and talent.
- Cultural divisions,
barriers, tension, and conflict in our organizations, families, schools,
- Poor productivity,
unemployment, high turnover, crime, and various emotional problems associated
with cultural confusion and weakness.
- Difficulty in
doing business successfully in foreign countries.
- Poor cultural
image and reputation.
Realizing our individual
and organizational cultural potential requires that we do the related
cultural work at different levels of society.
How do I expand
my inter-cultural competence? Here are a few suggestions around
cultural work you can do:
an understanding of the values and unique skills inherent in each culture.
In each culture there are certain core values that have been revered
for generations. These values often define the cultural interests and
skills of the majority of people from that culture. By knowing, supporting,
and employing these values and skills you can provide cultural empowerment
to someone from that culture. For example art and creativity are highly
valued in the Persian culture. So a Persian individual might have skills
in some form of creative work This creative potential can be assessed
and employed to benefit the individual and his/her employer.
an understanding of key differences among cultures. One of
the key differences between current cultures is that some tend to be
more cognitive-behavioral while others are more emotional-spiritual.
Cognitive-behavioral cultures promote logical thinking, problem solving,
and external results. Emotional-spiritual cultures promote emotional
awareness and expression, spirituality, and inner results. Each culture
could be positioned on a continuum from cognitive-behavioral at one
end and emotional-spiritual at the other. For example the Mexican culture
is primarily emotional-spiritual while the Russian culture is primarily
Validate all cultures within individuals, organizations, and families.
settings give sufficient attention and support to all cultures present
as opposed to only the dominant or majority culture.
- When cultures
are in conflict learn ways to determine the hidden growth opportunity
for each culture and create the necessary cultural changes to achieve
this growth. For example when a primarily cognitive-behavioral
culture is in conflict with a primarily emotional-spiritual culture
the hidden opportunity is for the former is to learn more emotional
and spiritual skills and for the latter to learn more scientific skills
and attain more physical results.
and value your own cultural strengths. This can be done by
studying one’s history and determining the primary values and skills
of one’s culture. For example one of the values and strengths in the
American culture is freedom.
and accept your own cultural weaknesses.
It is also helpful to objectively compare one’s culture with other cultures
and ask trusted individuals from others culture to candidly share how
they see your culture and why.
opportunities to spend time with other cultures. Travel to
other countries or visit different multi-cultural areas of your city
and country. You could also invite people of other cultures to your
home and social events, become curious about their cultural backgrounds,
and ask them to share about their cultural values.
opportunities for cultural dialog and education within organizations.
Have speakers discuss the values of various cultures, creating
cross-cultural discussion groups, and teaching classes on cultural awareness.
- See the
beauty in each culture. Each culture has its own beauty. You
can see this beauty by understanding the values of that culture. Their
values defines what they strive for and what they consider beautiful.
Your cultural values and opinion about beauty may be different from
theirs and should not necessarily be the gauge of measuring the beauty
in another culture.
mental, emotional, and relational barriers that keep cultures apart.
Examples of these include cultural fear, insecurity, anger, misinformation,
unawareness, isolation, separation, etc. We need to face and resolve
the emotions and attitudes that keep us from embracing other cultures.
Otherwise they will continue to act as obstacles in our relationship
with other cultures.
the value of cultural heritage for the individual and society.
Most cultures have a need to learn about their own cultural heritage
and to teach their cultural values to the next generation. This is a
basic cultural need and interest.
the services of cross-cultural coaches and educators. Cross-cultural
speakers, coaches, and facilitators can help enhance our cultural knowledge
and cross-cultural relationships.
There is much cultural
work to be done in a multi-cultural nation. And this work is more necessary
and meaningful than ever before as the world community becomes more and
Nayeri, MS, Personal and Business Coach, (858) 459-8695.
Where might you improve your cultural competency? Choose from the actions
above and practice it this week. Please send
us your questions and comments.
Facilitation Expert Series
the gold in the embrace of Cultural Differences.
Featuring Kaveh Nayeri,
M.S., Business and Personal Coach, Speaker, and Author.
Attend this one-hour tele-seminar on Thursday, July 29th at 1:00
PM EDT (NY Time).
"Just in Time" Learning
this one-hour tele-seminar
with Kaveh Nayeri and Steve
Davis and learn key
differences between primarily Cognitive-Behavioral and Emotional-Spiritual
Cultures; key differences and similarities between American and
Iranian cultures as a real-life example of above culture types based
on Kaveh’s years of experience with both cultures; skills
and knowledge an American facilitator or any group worker should
have to successfully relate to other cultures; and what Eastern
and Western cultures can learn from each other and how they can
grow from their relationship. Here are some of the questions we'll
Explains your theory that cultures are primarily cognitive-behavioral
or emotional-spiritual. What are key differences among them?
What are some cultural example that demonstrate your theory? On
a continuum with cognitive-behavioral at one end and emotional-spiritual
at the other end, where would you place cultures such as: American,
Mexican, Iranian, French, Russian?
What are typical strengths & limitations of cognitive-behavioral
cultures? How about emotional-spiritual cultures?
Elaborate on key factors that come into play when someone from a
dominant or majority culture is attempting to relate to someone
from a sub-dominant or minority culture?
How can cognitive-behavioral and emotional-spiritual cultures learn
from each other and grow from their relationship?
Please review and state a list of key skills and considerations
needed when an American professional is attempting to relate to
someone from a foreign culture.
And, answers to any questions you bring to the teleclass.
1.Managing Diversity. An
article about managing diversity using a Strategic Planned Change
2. Workplace Diversity Quiz.
A simple 10-question quiz on workplace diversity complete with discussion
questions for each point.
About Kaveh. Kaveh
Nayeri, MS is an innovative business and personal coach, author,
and thinker. He grew up in Iran where he attended a French school.
And he has lived and worked in America for 27 years. Kaveh draws
from many sources to teach/coach cross-cultural topics. These include
his insight into Eastern and Western cultures, his life experiences
living in Iran and the United States, his professional experiences
counseling majority, minority, and immigrant clients, his marriage
to a Lithuanian, his many experiences in European countries, writing
books in two languages, and his current work with English-speaking
and Farsi-speaking media in the U.S.
a new way of seeing and understanding key differences between cultures.
His theory places world cultures on a continuum that runs from cognitive-behavioral
on one end and emotional-spiritual on the other. In addition Kaveh
discusses the dynamics involved in the relationship between dominant/majority
and sub-dominant/minority cultures. Kaveh teaches methods for people
from different cultures to better understand and appreciate each
other. And he teaches important skills needed to successfully relate
to and work with people from foreign cultures. Visit his website
or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
or at (858) 459-8695 if you have any questions
about this class or about Kaveh's work.
for details about this interview, the bonuses, and registration.
Competency in Health, Social & Human Services: Directions for the
21st Century, by
Pedro J. Lecca, Ivan Quervalu, Joao V. Nunes, Hector F. Gonzales
Cultural competency is an issue that is becoming increasingly more important
as thousands of people come to this country every year. This pioneering
volume presents the latest information and techniques for improving cultural
competency in the delivery of health, social, and human services to ethnic
and racial minority groups in the United States. Special attention is
paid to the importance of understanding the social and culture backgrounds
of clients when assessing diagnosis of policy and economic issues, which
are rarely examined in this context. Notable for its combination of theory
and practice, which will be invaluable for both professionals and students,
this book also includes material on cultural competency within such special
populations as the mentally ill, the elderly, children, and families.