Adapting to Different Cultures-Workplace and National

By Jen Taggart

When people think of culture and cultural competency in the workforce, they usually think of relating to those from other ethnic backgrounds. While this is important in a global workforce, businesses themselves have cultures too.Culture is any given group’s set of values, beliefs and assumptions which affect how they behave.

Here are factors to consider when adapting to a new culture, whether a national or workplace culture according to Baton Exchange’s online training video for on worldview and culture.

  1. Godly cultures include moral absolutes and recognize the dignity of others. John Stonestreet, executive director of the Chuck Colson center said that any culture that removes a person’s human dignity because of race, gender, age socioeconomic status or any other factor is not a life giving culture.
  2. Culture is guided by worldview. John Scroggins, executive director of Baton Exchange, compared culture to a car and worldview to a GPS. Someone may be of a different culture but be of the same worldview, just like a different car may use the same GPS. Just as a faulty GPS would led a car astray, a faulty worldview could leave a person or culture astray.
  3. Every culture has good and evil characteristics. Culture is made of people and every person is created in the image of God, so every culture has godly characteristics. However, humans’ worldviews have been tainted by the fall so every culture is also broken. SACK acronym
  4. Culture is broken into objective and subjective culture. Objective culture is culture that is visible and subjective culture is culture that is invisible.
  5. You can use the SACK acronym for adapting to a different culture. S stands for self awareness-knowing your own culture and worldview, conflict and communication styles and emotions. A stands for attitude--having a humble, teachable spirit. C stands for communication skills. K stands for knowledge about worldviews and cultural practice of the culture you will be entering.

In my own life, I’ve found that understanding culture has helped me to adapt to others’ preferences, communicate and understand others. My family, school, church, and hometown each have their own cultures, as do Columbus and Baton Exchange. Some of these cultures are strict and task oriented, others are more relationally oriented. Some of these cultures have a dominant conservative worldview, other cultures have a moderate worldview, and others have a liberal worldview.

Understanding culture not only helps me work with this around me, but also relate to those around me on a deeper level. Understanding culture in any of these contexts gives me a framework to find effective ways to minister to others and share the gospel in various environments.