One definition (Bates and Plog,1990) defines culture as “the system of shared beliefs, values, customs, behaviours, and artifacts that the members of society use to cope with their world and with one another, and that are transmitted from generation to generation through social learning”. At The Training Box, we like a much simpler definition, “The way we do things around here.”
Culture has an impact on every human activity: how we view time, how we organise ourselves, define our purpose, relate to power etc. and it leads to perceptions, beliefs, values, behaviours, norms that may not always be clear to others.
We are all culturally unique: every person carries patterns of thinking, feeling and behaviour, much of which has been learned or assimilated, starting in childhood.It can be difficult to “unlearn” these things and adapt our communication style and behaviour.
Different is different – not necessarily better or worse: cultural orientation can divide or enrich depending upon your ability and inclination to rise to the challenges presented by cross-cultural communication.
Remember to be sensitive to cultural variation in your communication!