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A guide to cultural competency

Cultural competency is the ability to understand and appreciate other people’s cultural values and norms as well as to be able to interact effectively with them. Cultural competency is enhanced through knowing other people’s cultures, awareness of one’s culture, cross-cultural skills and one’s attitude towards other people’s cultures. This article provides a guideline to cultural competency.

Key factors on cultural competency

Awareness of one’s culture This involves understanding other people’s culture which affects their perception, reaction and judgement towards other people at the workplace or in the society. Cross-cultural skills This is about knowing the skills and values that are shared by different cultures in order to develop a multi-cultural environment at workplaces or in a multi-cultural community. Attitude towards other people Attitude towards other people is affected by one’s values, tradition and norms, thus it is important to understand other people’s beliefs and values. Knowledge The knowledge of other people’s culture is a key factor in cultural competence because people’s behaviour and perception is consistent to their values and beliefs.

Importance of cultural competence

Communication Inter-cultural competence is important because it promotes good communication and effective interaction among people of different values and norms. Respect It allows people to respect one another in terms of their cultural background and to understand how different cultures affect people’s behaviour, perception, judgement and the way they interact among themselves and other people. Educational purposes Understanding and knowing one’s culture is important to build a multi-cultural environment at workplaces to eliminate cultural discrimination.

How to improve cultural competency at workplaces

Allowing people to discuss their culture Cultural competence can be enhanced by affording people time to discuss their norms, values and traditions which affect their behaviour, judgement and perception so as to promote cross-cultural awareness. Culture presentations It can be improved by introducing group presentations and cultural awareness training to all employees. This will also eliminate cultural bias, wrong beliefs and perception towards another culture. Introducing cultural Fridays Cultural Fridays can be implemented at workplaces where members of staff would wear culture-related clothes on a certain Friday or at a company's cocktail party. Introducing a corporate language Cultural competence is improved by introducing a corporate language that is understood by everyone so as to avoid communication problems and gossiping.

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