There are a lot of corporate development programs focused on cultural diversity or cultural inclusion. For me, I tilt my head to the side and say, “Really?” Is it really the culture that needs to be included or celebrated for its diversity or is it the individual?
For me, it is the individual who has the programming that causes their behaviours to appear different or unusual to other people. For example, I had a hair stylist who had a Singaporean assistant stylist who “couldn’t follow directions”. According to the stylist, it was the culture, it was how the culture created this inability through the education system, through social norms, or whatever.
For me it was an individual. It was an individual who had a different set of programs than the stylist. She didn’t understand. I said, “You give him auditory instructions to rinse your clients hair for several minutes and he doesn’t do it, right? That’s the problem.” She agreed. “So, instead of telling him verbally what to do. Take him to the sink and set a kitchen timer for the time you want him to rinse your clients hair. It isn’t a cultural problem. It’s a translation problem. You speak to him and he needs you to show him. He learns by doing not by listening.” I also saw that he needed some type of alert to let him know when those minutes were up because he would just wonder off in his own thoughts while performing his duty and lose track of how much time he had spent doing it.
Perhaps maybe his culture trained him this way. I don’t know. What I do know is that I look at every individual as an individual and not as their culture first. I can work with them through how they understand the world no matter where that map of the world came from.
What about in your workplace? Is there someone that needs a little more individual understanding instead of cultural generalisation?