The world continues to grow as both cultures and populations evolve. Technological advancements, travel, and communication have brought us closer together both culturally and geographically than ever before. And with various opportunities to engage with people from all walks of life, cultural awareness is more crucial than ever before.
Not only does culture define who we are, it also shapes the way we interact with others. By being culturally aware, you can build meaningful connections with people from around the world, while improving your own sense of self. In this article, we’ll discuss seven reasons cultural awareness matters.
Seven Reasons Why Cultural Awareness Is Crucial
Being culturally aware matters for many reasons that affect almost every aspect of both our personal lives, and the communities we are a part of; including navigating everyday interactions, succeeding in our careers, and communicating empathetically and effectively with other people. Even though it might seem like a daunting task, we must continue to develop our cultural awareness. Here are seven reasons to undertake the task of developing your cultural awareness:
Being Culturally Aware Makes Us Global Citizens
Cultural awareness can help you break down cultural barriers and build bridges, by learning how to appreciate and respect those who are different from you.
As you come to understand more about yourself and your own culture, you’ll learn how to relate better to individuals from different cultural backgrounds. When we encounter new cultures and languages, we typically make comparisons and may begin to realise that our personal values, behaviours, and beliefs aren’t shared with others from different parts of the world.
By being culturally aware, you can recognise and appreciate other people’s beliefs, customs, and values to interact with them without prejudice or judgement. This leads to more cultural connections and fewer interpersonal conflicts arising from cultural differences. Cultural awareness also helps us keep smaller and more remote cultures alive. We offer Indigenous cultural awareness training for those who would like to learn more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and culture.
When you’re culturally aware, you’ll know what’s considered offensive or inappropriate to others, such as incorrect body language, which may lead to accidental misunderstandings that could easily be avoided.
It Helps Create An Inclusive And Homogenous Workplace
You’re likely to meet people coming from diverse backgrounds in the workplace, each with their own opinions and beliefs, which may sometimes seem to conflict with the company’s values.
Embracing cultural awareness can help you recognise how cultural differences can influence one’s perceptions, helping us become more accommodating of different opinions. In addition, being empathetic and understanding can help create an inclusive environment that encourages creativity and innovation, while improving efficiency and profitability.
If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of cultural awareness in the workplace, we cover the topic in more detail at the link above.
Cultural Awareness Can Help Us Uncover A New Appreciation for What’s Considered “Different”
One of the best ways to explore our planet is through culture. Although travelling is a brilliant way to learn about different cultures from their geographical roots, you don’t have to go that far to immerse yourself in new cultures. You can explore other cultures through seeking to understand new ideologies, listening to different types of global music, trying new foods, reading folklore stories, and watching forgein films. All of these activities give you the chance to both appreciate the differences and recognise the similarities between various cultures.
Cultural Awareness Is Linked to Self-Awareness
When discussing cultural awareness, we often tend to focus on other people as we recognise and understand the differences from our own cultural heritage, customs, and perspectives.
However, cultural awareness is closely linked to self-awareness, because we can relate better to people when we know ourselves well. Learning about other people’s cultures enhances our sense of self, bringing us to the realization that being culturally aware matters much more than we initially thought, both for our own self-relationship and for our relationship with others.
Being Culturally Aware Shows Respect For Other Cultures
Speaking directly to people from other cultures isn’t the only way to communicate and interact with them. We should also prioritise cultural awareness in other modes of communication, such as in:
- Marketing campaigns
- Product design
- Educational events
- Public speaking engagements
- Platforms through which we send and receive communication between businesses, customers, and our communities.
Displaying our awareness of diverse cultures in a respectful way creates a unified society by supporting cultural differences and encouraging others to adopt the same gesture of respect.
Being Culturally Aware Influences Communication
While you may have control over what you personally say and how you say it, you can’t control how other people interpret your words. Misunderstandings in communication are common even among those who share the same native language and culture.
Imagine how much more the communication between people from different cultures may be prone to these misunderstandings, especially when it may involve someone who is speaking their second language.
After knowing how others may interpret your words, you can identify ways to communicate empathetically and effectively with diverse audiences, while finding ways to minimize any potential misunderstandings.
Increasing Cultural Diversity
When you look around, you may realize that many individuals belong to various cultures in your palace of work, at your school, or in your community. Yet, for every person who celebrates their cultural identity publicly, there are others who champion their cultural heritages privately. As subcultures and cultures grow within populations, our society must become more culturally aware by encouraging people from diverse cultures to unite as a community and celebrate their differences and similarities.
As you learn about different cultures, you’ll start to recognise that all of us are unique individuals, with our own backgrounds, traditions, beliefs, and social norms. Instead of generalising, you’ll begin to treat every person as a separate individual with their own strengths, desires, and dreams. By developing your cultural awareness you can help create a better environment where each individual has the opportunity to succeed.