Cultural Competence in Multicultural Environment

Introduction

Addressing conflicts efficiently is a crucial skill that one must possess in order to advance in any environment, be it business-, education-, or leisure-related. In this context, the significance of understanding the peculiarities and unique characteristics of other cultures cannot possibly be doubted. Therefore, creating an environment that encourages participants to engage in a multicultural dialogue and share their experiences, thus, creating a system of multicultural knowledge, must be regarded as a cornerstone for efficient team management.

However, in the realm of a diverse group, conflicts and misunderstandings are inevitable due to the differences between the cultures of participants. It is, therefore, crucial to come up with a self-sustaining system that will promote the active acquisition of skills necessary for engaging in cross-cultural communication. The creation of the strategies that will ultimately help in addressing some of the confrontations that may occur in the context of a multicultural setting is crucial.

The design of a coherent conflict management framework will allow making confrontations in a multicultural environment productive. Furthermore, it will prevent them from becoming too personal.

Defining Culture

The phenomenon of culture is linked directly to the efficient management of learners’ needs in an academic environment. Culture is a rather broad notion that can be defined from many perspectives. However, when viewing it as a global phenomenon, one can define it as a set of concepts and philosophies that make people interpret certain signs, ideas, and images in a certain way (Povenmire-Kirk, Bethune, Alverson, & Kahn, 2015).

To ensure that one is capable of transferring to a new mode of learning or teaching, one must carry out a vast analysis of the cultural specifics of its members. A study of students’ cultural backgrounds will help avoid the scenarios that will involve cross-cultural issues caused by misunderstandings, misconceptions, or differences in worldviews. Furthermore, by appealing to people’s cultural background and introducing the cultural signs and symbols that they define as relatable, it is easier to render specific concepts and notions that will help learners construct knowledge and develop the skills required to master a specific subject. The specified step is especially important in the academic settings where competition levels are high, and where teachers do not place collaboration high on their list of priorities.

Defining Multiculturalism

Addressing cross-cultural issues in the workplace, one will also have to explore the phenomenon of multiculturalism. The subject matter is also very multifaceted, which makes the process of locating its exact definition rather intricate. According to the existing ways of viewing the notion of multiculturalism, it can be identified as a deviation from the dominant mainstream culture that can be observed in a specific environment, i.e., a combination of several cultures (Aguilar, 2017).

The lack of a single indisputable definition of multiculturalism is both an opportunity and a limitation. On the one hand, the observed absence of a single definition provides impressive flexibility in delineating a communication pattern. On the other hand, it also suggests that the process of multicultural communication lacks definitive strategies that will provide ultimate success in any scenario. Instead, one must locate unique solutions to particular problems, which means that successful multicultural communication will require an impressive effort to be made by both sides.

Therefore, multiculturalism needs to be viewed through the prism of contemporary mainstream culture, politics, and philosophy. Thus, one can develop a better understanding of the needs of people from different cultural backgrounds living in the realm of a dominant foreign culture.

Multicultural Competence

To create an environment in which conflicts are resolved successfully, and where all team members are encouraged to excel in their ability to acquire new knowledge and skills, one must consider including the notion of multicultural competence in the list of characteristics that target demographics must possess. In its essence, multicultural competence is the ability to identify the elements of other cultures and use them to build a dialogue with the representatives of a particular culture or cultures successfully (Smith, Wessel, & Polacek, 2017).

The ability to integrate the aspects of different cultures and build a coherent communication process is essential to the further development of a bond between the participants of a conversation. Furthermore, multicultural competence will allow one to avoid typical mistakes that are made when establishing a connection with diverse communities. For instance, one will evade the scenarios involving the use of stereotypes that can be hurtful to an opponent. Leading to a misrepresentation of diverse populations, stereotypes hinder the development of mutual understanding and trust required for successful communication.

Self-Reflection: Questions

The information learned during the course has provided extensive opportunities for engaging in introspection of one’s personal culture, beliefs, and system of values. Furthermore, the very concept of intercultural communication as a personal experience was reevaluated. The information learned during the course makes one think of the role that stereotypes play in their life, in general, and communication, in particular.

Furthermore, the knowledge acquired during the course served as the impetus for engaging in self-directed education and lifelong learning. Particularly, the significance of acquiring new information about other cultures and the skills required to communicate with their representatives became evident due to the courses. What has been learned makes one question the very possibility of establishing an uninhibited multicultural dialogue without any hindrances or misconceptions. Furthermore, it makes one wonder whether misunderstandings occurring during cross-cultural communication may serve as the foundation for further leering. Even though not all of the questions that one asks oneself during the study of multicultural competence may be answered at once, they provide the platform for further personal development.

Self-Reflection: Exercises

Even though the process of establishing successful communication with other cultures might seem barely possible due to numerous prejudices, lack of cultural awareness, etc., certain strategies can be used to enhance the acquisition of knowledge and skills required for efficient multicultural communication. Furthermore, the use of such exercises is likely to reduce the threat of using stereotypes accidentally or developing a prejudice against a particular culture.

The exercises that imply role-playing based on specific scenarios might seem like a naïve way of dealing with stereotyping in a multicultural dialogue, yet they are the simplest and the fastest way of conveying a very clear and important message (Becton, Foster, & Chen, 2016). For example, using a series of advertisements for training to spot stereotypes associated with a particular race, ethnicity, or culture can be viewed as a legitimate way of teaching people about the subject matter.

Elements of Culture, Behavior, and Demographics

Culture as a combination of ideas, philosophies, and opinions defines the way in which people interact with one another and see each other. Therefore, elements of culture have a direct effect on one’s choice of behaviors and attitudes. People’s core values affect how they see the world and the community members around them. For example, in Eastern cultures, such as the Chinese one, the significance of etiquette is very high. Consequently, people tend to choose the behaviors that imply following traditions and complying with set rules. The lack of rebellious attitudes, therefore, can be regarded as the definitive characteristic of eastern cultures. Thus, when facing outbursts of emotions from the representatives of Western cultures, the ones that base their value systems on Eastern ones may feel rather confused, to say the least. The absence of a multicultural approach toward managing the specified scenario may lead to a further culture clash and the subsequent conflict.

In the modern American community, a significant amount of the U.S. population (26.1%) belongs to cultures other than white. Therefore, it is essential to create opportunities for a multicultural dialogue (U.S. Census Bureau, 2017). As a result, opportunities for building a closer community will be created.

Improving Multicultural Interactions: Barriers and Tips

At present, prejudices and low cultural awareness rates are the key barriers to successful multicultural communication. Even though current rates of multicultural awareness leave much to be desired on a statewide level, there are opportunities for improving the multicultural communication process. For this purpose, the active use of contemporary advanced technology will have to be considered a necessity. Particularly, it will be essential to utilize social networks as the platforms for a multicultural communication process, during which participants will learn more about diverse communities and other cultures. The identified step will also help explore the issues that are deemed as controversial and causing cross-cultural conflicts in contemporary society ().

Furthermore, to make sure that a multicultural conversation is carried out flawlessly, one must be very respectful to the members of other cultures that participate in the communication. There is no need to stress that learning every single detail about a foreign culture is barely a possibility, which means that one may ultimately make a mistake. However, in the specified case, one must use conflict management skills based on cooperation and mutual respect. As a result, opportunities for subverting numerous stereotypes and building a strong diverse community can be created

Resources for Participants

It is strongly recommended for teachers to use all available resources at their disposal to ensure that the needs of learners from all cultural backgrounds are met. The identified step will require the active use of online resources with general information about the specifics of particular cultures. Furthermore, academic resources that are contained in the databases of educational institutions will have to be included in the set of resources that educators must use.

In addition, it is crucial to encourage collaboration between teachers. By enhancing cooperation between educators, one will create an environment in which participants will share their experiences. As a result, teachers will be able to build a knowledge base that will be used to enhance their connection with learners and encourage a faster acquisition of respective skills by students.

Furthermore, establishing a close connection with the parents of students from multicultural communities must be regarded as an essential step in enhancing the academic process. Parents will provide the information that educators can use to improve teaching strategies and adjust them to meet the culture-specific needs of learners.

Conclusion

Creating a context in which people from different cultures can communicate without the fear of hurting others’ feelings is an important step toward building a global community. The specified goal, however, requires an impressive effort from participants since it will imply acquiring substantial skills. The development of multicultural competence must be regarded as the primary step toward improving one’s current knowledge of other cultures.

The specified changes are crucial to the successful prevention of conflicts in the realm of a diverse environment. There is no need to stress that there are numerous layers in any culture, which means that forecasting every possible issue and preventing it successfully is barely a possibility. For this reason, efficient tools for managing conflicts objectively and addressing the needs of diverse populations are required. The focus on developing multicultural competence and acquiring the skills that will help avoid hurting an opponent’s feelings accidentally must be regarded as a crucial skill that one must acquire. As a result, opportunities for building a multicultural dialogue will be provided.

Therefore, while the current state of managing the needs of diverse populations in the realm of the global communication process leaves much to be desired, the focus on the consistent acquisition of cultural knowledge will allow improving the situation.

References

Aguilar, T. (2017). Bridging cultural gaps between higher education and diversity. Practicing Anthropology, 39(2), 9-13.

Becton, A., Foster, A., & Chen, R. (2016). Postsecondary educators’ cultural and institutional awareness of issues faced by African American students with disabilities. Rehabilitation Research, Policy, and Education, 30(2), 129-147.

Povenmire-Kirk, T., Bethune, L., Alverson, C., & Kahn, L. (2015). A journey, not a destination. TEACHING Exceptional Children, 47(6), 319-328.

Smith, T. M., Wessel, M. T., & Polacek, G. N. (2017). Perceptions of cultural competency and acceptance among college students: Implications for diversity awareness in higher education. ABNF Journal, 28(2), 25-33.

U.S. Census Bureau. (2017). Race and Hispanic origin. Web.