Are You Intercultural Competent?

Photography by Sharon McCutcheon

 A colleague was telling me recently about an experience she had while working with a non-diverse group of twenty people – except of one who happened to be a full size and very dark woman. My colleague observed how the group acted and reacted around this individual. One person seemed afraid of her, others stayed away from her, and the rest acted as if she didn’t exist.

Determining cultural difference leads to stereotyping, as well as placing people with common traits in segmented types. This denies an understanding of the cultural complexities inherent in the individual. Thus cultural knowing needs to start at the level of the individual. Intercultural knowledge is knowledge about one’s own cultural background and about different cultural backgrounds. (Erin Meyer (2014) The Culture Map .)