Awareness of one’s own culture and sources

© Article translated from the book “Negoziazione interculturale, comunicazione oltre le barriere culturali” (Intercultural Negotiation: Communication Beyond Cultural Barriers) copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Consulting Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available for qualified Publishers wishing to consider it for publication in English and other languages except for Italian and Arab. If you are interested in publishing or Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching and Consulting, please feel free to contact the author from the webstite www.danieletrevisani.com 

Principle 5 – Awareness of one’s own cultural sources

Successful communication depends on awareness:

  • personal sources (individuals) who have made significant imprints on their own system of beliefs and behaviors;
  • mediated sources (media, books, readings, films) that have affected one’s personal culture;
  • the times of assimilation and its significant phases and milestones;
  • the depth of assimilation into the Self of the different cultural rules, norms, guides, laws and teachings that are adopted;
  • the ability to recognize the factors and people from which specific skills, attitudes and behaviors practiced today at work and at a professional level have been assimilated (e.g. where and from whom the styles and behaviors of negotiation and relationship used today have been learned) . You can accept to keep a cultural rule with you, or you can consciously decide to try to eliminate it from your way of being, but only after having become aware of its existence (cultural self-determination). In the ALM method, the individual is seen as a cell capable of applying positive osmosis (exchanging flows of knowledge and experiences with the environment). As in any cell, without exchange there is neither nourishment nor elimination of toxins. Thus, even in intercultural communication it is necessary to know how to eliminate the cultural toxins that prevent the proper functioning of the Self, and to know how to open up to the introduction of new elements.

Principle 6 – Cultural self-determination and internal cultural locus-of-control Successful communication depends on:

  • the subject’s ability to choose which cultural rules and cultural traits to keep in their personal baggage (cultural set);
  • the subject’s ability to choose which cultural rules and cultural traits to eliminate from one’s set;
  • the subject’s ability to choose which new cultural rules and new traits to acquire in his personal baggage;
  • from the basic awareness of the fact that it is possible to carry out an analysis of discovery and awareness of one’s own culture, to regain control of the cultural rules that apply.

This achievement depends on the revision of the sense of control over one’s destiny, events, and even one’s own culture, seen as something on which the subject can act (internal locus-of-control). The intercultural negotiator is alive – like a biological cell – when open to his own change and exchange with the environment.

He is dead and produces disastrous results when he refuses to accept that differences exist and must be understood and analyzed. The greater its capacity for exchange and osmosis with the environment, the greater the level of psycho-physiological fitness. The intercultural being is just as dead when it does not possess its own identity, unconditionally accepts the “memetics” of others and rejects its heritage, dispersing the good it has to offer to the rich relationship.

As in many human activities, a successful outcome requires the ability to find a balance between (1) a tendency towards unconditional acceptance of the culture of others (cultural hypocrisy) and (2) a tendency towards the unconditional imposition of one’s own culture on the other (imperialism cultural). States of consciousness feed cultural identities. Being Italian and having been raised in Italian culture produces a vision of the world that can be assimilated to a state of conscience, and some behaviors – for example, all sitting at the table in the family – enter the sphere of normality of that state of conscience.

It is normal to eat together in Italy, just as it is normal for an American university student to do homework and exercises in the canteen and carefully avoid talking to diners. It is very rare to see an Italian university student sitting at a table with other friends not talking, and closing on the book with paper and pen. It can happen, but it is not part of Italian culture. Just as it is strange for an Italian to think that the most popular place in an American university town on Sunday evening, around midnight, is the library.

Arriving at the table late and leaving earlier is not culturally correct in standard Italian culture, but it is normal in American culture, spending the night at the computer center is good for an American student, horrible for an Italian. For a certain “clever” Italian culture, spending a night studying is something you don’t want to let anyone know, so as not to be pointed out as “geeks“. For the American student, copying is reprehensible, for the Italian it is cunning. These are different “memes” that circulate: “if you copy you are smart” vs. “If you copy you are a failure”. Each intercultural negotiation brings with it different “memes”. The problem with cultures is that their unwritten norms come in “without knocking”, by osmosis, and these norms become tangible only when there is contact with a different culture.

For example, an Italian student who offers an American colleague to copy his homework, to make him a friend, instead of strengthening a bond will be pointed out, rejected and relegated. Companies also have different cultures, just as corporate areas (administration, sales, purchasing, production) have their own and distinct cultures. Due to the great variety of inputs to which one is exposed, there is no creature that reasons with the exact same mental patterns as another. In this context, people find themselves negotiating and communicating.

© Article translated from the book “Negoziazione interculturale, comunicazione oltre le barriere culturali” (Intercultural Negotiation: Communication Beyond Cultural Barriers) copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available for any Publisher wishing to consider it for publication in English and other languages except for Italian and Arab whose rights are already sold and published. If you are interested in publishing the book in English, or in Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching and Consulting, please feel free to contact the author from the webstite www.danieletrevisani.com 

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