Is intercultural development and growth something you aspire to enhance as an individual and/or as a leader of your team/ organization, teacher of a class, or parent of a family in 2023?
Is inclusion a high value in your life, in your relationships, whether at work, in private, or at home?
Are health and well-being the area of healthy relationships something you'd like to focus more on in your life in 2023?
Intercultural development and growth is a journey that can help to nurture the value of inclusion and healthy relationships.
But before I dive deeper into the topic, let us take a quick look into what is culture.
What is culture?
According to the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) developed by Dr.Mitchell R.Hammer, professor of International Peace and Conflict Resolution, culture is all about cultural patterns, values, practices, and behaviors.
In the IDI context, it is not talked about cultural specifics such as gender, race, ethnicity, religion, and nationalities - yet those specifics inform our cultural development and growth. Our cultural expansion is about something other than learning, for example, how to exchange business cards in Japan or how to use chopsticks, although those are valuable experiences.
It is more about the cultural and behavioral patterns and getting to know and understand them under the iceberg's surface.
Imagine an iceberg. Culture is the whole iceberg of every objective cultural part on the surface, including all subjective cultural aspects under the surface.
It is about developing a deep understanding of Self AND others!
How do we identify with cultural differences and commonalities?
Often I hear clients, friends, family members, and colleagues saying I strongly believe we are all human - we are all the same.
It just recently occurred again in an IDI debriefing session with a client.
It is a belief that many carry along taught either at school, home, family, university, church, or any kind of educational system.
Tough Love Talk on the sentence "we are all human"
In the next couple of sentences, be prepared I will be more clear and direct with my language and expression - like tough love talk.
Before a quick reminder, when I talk about cultural development and growth, it is not about right and wrong!
Keep that in mind!
We can't be inclusive if we do not value the differences and diversity within and outside of us in our environment and in the people surrounding us.
This belief that we are all human is not helpful regarding the value of creating an inclusive world. Period!
It goes along with people being colorblind and not seeing white as a color.
To break it down, neither is this belief helpful in our relationship, whether with a friend, colleague, sibling(s), parent(s), partner, spouse, clients …
It is not!
I'm reminding you here again cultural development and growth are NOT about doing it right or wrong!
Because what often happens when we reflect on our development, our sweet mindset tends to function in a judgmental, sabotaging way, and - our mindset easily creates negative sentences in us and feelings of doing it right and wrong.
I know what I'm talking about:-)I have been there many times.
Here is the truth it is about development and growth - cultural development and growth - deepening and expanding cultural Self and raising cultural other understanding.
Along that way of growing into an intercultural mindset and cultivating growth, we will stumble, get discomfortable and experience setbacks many times.
That's normal and simply part of the package.
I have been there, and many people have been there, and that's simply part of learning and growing, deepening and expanding.
Not about getting it right and doing it perfectly.
Nope. It does not work that way.
And guess what it is also joyful and fun if we walk the path with heart and humor and grow our cultural competence for the sake of creating inclusion.
Okay, I'll stop the tough love talk here now.
Back to inclusion and the often used sentences such as" we are all human" or "when I'm with people of all kind, I only see us as all humans" - means I only see the commonalities between human beings.
Commonalities AND Differences
It is great to notice commonalities.
And only seeing commonalities can be hurtful and painful. Be aware of that. When we are nurturing only that belief, it creates harm within us and other people.
Because we diminish and minimize the potential and value of our differences!
Our differences AND commonalities are equally essential to create inclusion and healthy relationships.
If we see and fear differences as a threat, we tend to focus only on commonalities.
Guess what happens?
If we only focus on commonalities, like in the example I mentioned above, "we're all human," we mask and oppress differences and cut out an important part of an individual human being.
It is like not seeing and valuing the whole person. Like a cake where you take a piece away and do not see it as part of the entire cake, that makes it whole.
Let me give you another example.
Let's say your partner/spouse, and you both value a bright and light home with many windows. That might sound superficial, but underlying the value of a bright home is a deeper meaning for both. Maybe it will lift you both up, and you will get less depressed. Okay, that's what you share in common. Now let's say one of you values a wooden floor but no carpet, and one prefers carpet. That difference might look at the first objective, but the underlying might be a behavioral pattern.
The reason why the person values a wooden floor may be because the wooden floor creates a feeling of calmness and groundedness, and overall it has an impact on the shared home because that person, in a calm way, acts in his/her best version.
In contrast, the person who appreciates carpet may associate feelings of warmth, coziness, love, and being held, and may create this feeling in the shared home, which ultimately serves all in a good way.
Now we have the commonalities of the bright light windows in the home and the difference of valuing different floor textures that holds different potentials of creating feelings with varying qualities in the environment/home.
Interesting isn't it?!
Can you see how valuable it is to focus on differences instead of swiping them under the surface?
We may mask differences with valuable potentials and perspectives that help us to create beautiful environments.
It is not only the commonalities that connect us but also the differences that build deep connections, inclusion, and healthy relationships.
The differences within us and between us have true potential - the potential to create an inclusive world, family system, teams, communities, and organizations.
We need to start, continue seeing the difference, and acknowledge each other our differences!
Opportunities of cultural development and growth and honoring the value of inclusion
The IDI assessment and debriefing are a great way to enter the realm of intercultural development and growth. It helps to evaluate where we are on the continuum of growing from monocultural to intercultural mindsets at home, working places, in relationships, and in the world.
It supports us in learning about how we navigate cultural patterns of behavior.
Please reach out if you want to work on intercultural development and growth as an individual, as a family or team, or as an organization. The IDI assessment, debriefing, and coaching have truly become a passion of mine.
I would love to be of service and support you on your intercultural journey of growth and walking the pathway from a mono mindset to an intercultural mindset.
Reach out to me and send me an email at email@example.com or drop a comment below.
Happy new year 2023!