Cultural Sensitivity is Key
The world belongs to everyone. In previous eras, not too far back in time, children though were often raised to think that the culture in which they were raised was the only one that mattered. Luckily, times have changed as we become more interconnected and realize that we are all one. This has led to us being raised and schooled to respect cultural difference, making people much more tolerant and culturally sensitive. A culturally sensitive person can turn potentially awkward or even hostile interactions into rewarding and mutually enjoyable ones. Meeting people from different cultures is a great way of expanding your social circle and awareness.
How To Become Culturally Sensitive
Don’t Make Assumptions
When experiencing a culture first hand, don’t make assumptions based on other people’s opinions or stereotypes perpetuated in the media. Ignorance is what is at the bottom of opinion which seek to denigrate other cultures, classes, religions, etc. Although you may have heard typical stereotyping about a specific culture, see it as coming from ignorance and take a more interested and positive approach. Find out about other culture, traditions, and laws that people follow. You will see that the intentions around them – to live happily, to love and to be safe and healthy – are the same everywhere.
Understand You Have Your Own Worldview
Everyone has their own worldview and this is true for you as well. If you understand this and accept it then you can better understand that your views of the world will be completely different than others. If someone says that a certain culture or country has strange cultural aspects, this is their view, although it doesn’t necessary mean that your experience will be the same. It is always best to analyse your own perspective, stereotypes, and biases when encountering other cultures.
Expose Yourself To Cultures
When experiencing a new culture first hand, try to immerse yourself fully by interacting with people and the way they do things. Travel to as many places as you can, eat what they eat, learn their language, and more. By fully exposing yourself to a new culture you can then understand the way they do things. Remember though to always respect boundaries, and be sensitive to the fact that you are an outsider and may not always be welcomed in some cultural situations or rituals. Cultural sensitivity is always something to keep an eye out for.