Cultural Sensitivity & Diversity (20 minute training course preview)

Cultural Sensitivity & Diversity (20 minute training course preview)


Good afternoon everybody. My name is Dr. Denise Dennis. Thank you for joining me for this presentation
on cultural sensitivity, a very important topic. I want to share with you some of the highlights
of what I do in sharing this presentation with people. The real challenge is that there’s so many
different ways we could go with this conversation and on cultural sensitivity. But basically, this is what we cover in this
talk. I focus on helping people understand cultural
diversity and what does that actually mean. I talk about how we need to be aware of our
biases and the fact that, frankly, we all have biases. We just need to acknowledge that and recognize
that some of them are intentional, some of them are unintentional, and it’s just a matter
of understanding what those biases are. I spend a lot of the time talking about how
we need to enhance our sensitivity to our similarities and differences, and just recognize
and appreciate and understand the fact that we are all very different for a variety of
reasons. And then I get into some specific ways in
which we’re different and specifically, as that relates to the way that we communicate. Because really, the goal of all of this, the
reason we want to be culturally sensitive besides, you know, it’s just a good thing
to do, but from an organization’s perspective, we want to be able to communicate effectively
with members of our organization, with our clients, with our customers, with members
of the community, so that everything is going smoothly. So I talk a lot about verbal and nonverbal
communication methods and how those differ and how it’s important to understand that
different should not necessarily be interpreted as being rude or being disrespectful, it may
just be different. I then talk about strategies for fostering
a cohesive workplace and by talking about how we might identify appropriate and inappropriate
behaviors in the workplace. So I want to take you through some of the
highlights of what I share with attendees. Part of what I talk about is what is diversity. And this workshop is very interactive. I ask people for their definitions, so you
tell me: when you think “diversity,” what are some of the things that come to mind? [silence] [student, off camera]: Ethnic diversity. [Denise Dennis]: Ethnic diversity, okay. What are some other ways in which we’re diverse? [student, off camera]: Beliefs. [Denise Dennis]: Okay. Religious. [student, off camera]: Personality styles. [Denise Dennis]: Personality. What else? [student, off camera]: Gender. [Denise Dennis]: Gender, appearance. Good. Political affiliation. [laughter] So all of these are ways in which we are diverse. Some of them are things that we’re born with. Some of these are things that we’ve developed
over time based on the people that we’re around. So, some types of our diversity we’re born
into, some develop. And I stress that because it’s useful for
us to keep in mind that some things we can change and some things we can’t. But more importantly, just recognizing that
we have these differences, no matter where they came from, we have ways in which we’re different. It doesn’t mean better, worse. Again, just different. So why is this important to understand? Again, what I’m trying to do is help people
develop a sense of cultural competency. And by “cultural competency,” I just mean that we need to understand, acknowledge, and accept the fact that we’re different. So, I personally do not agree with people
who say, “Oh, I’m color blind. I don’t see color, everybody’s the same.” We’re not the same. It’s alright that we’re not the same, so let’s
just learn to deal with the fact that we’re not the same and figure out the best way to
communicate with one another understanding that we’re not the same — that’s alright. But in order to do that, we need to seek to understand. We need to understand how we’re different. And do that in a way that’s not judgemental, just acknowledging the fact that we are different with the ultimate goal of improving our communication with one another. And I think that this is so important because often, if we’re not culturally competent, we may interpret something that somebody does as being disrespectful to us, when from their perspective, that might just be how they communicate. They may be actually being respectful to you, but because you come from two different cultures, you see the world differently, the way you
show respect might be different. And so if we just understand the fact that
we’re different and we approach things differently, it may help us improve our communication styles. So again, before we can jump into this, we
need to understand our own biases. And so I do a whole exercise where I break
people into groups based on birth order. I don’t jump into the hard stuff right away,
we do it based on birth order. So, all the first-borns get over here. All the middle children over here. All the youngest over here. All the onlys over here. In groups, I have people talk about how are
we similar, what do other people say about this — about us — what do they assume about us… So, if you — how many people are the youngest in the room? Okay, so what are some common things that people say about you as being the youngest? [student, off camera]: Get away with everything. [Denise Dennis]: Get away with everything. Spoiled. So, you know, that may or may not reflect
your reality but those are the biases that we have. Um, I’m an oldest child. Oldest children, the bias is that oldest children tend to be bossy… True in my instance, but, I don’t necessarily
like that people assume that I’m bossy even though I naturally am, just because I’m a first-born. The same thing we can apply to gender, to
race, to any other label that we may have, that we have developed over time these assumptions about how people in this box behave whether true or not and then that influences how we interact with those people. So it’s about understanding those biases that we have about people and recognizing, wow, I might be — this filter I’ve created might be influencing or getting in the way with how I’m interacting with people. Alright, what I find to be the biggest challenge when we talk about cultural sensitivity, cultural diversity, is that on the one hand we want
to be able to respect cultural differences, our individual differences — and we want
to do that — but we also don’t want to stereotype people. And it’s almost impossible to do in the sense that we have a tendency to naturally put people into categories. That is just human nature. It’s not American, it’s not … it’s just
human nature that when I look at this thing that has four legs and a seat and a back,
I put that in the category “chair.” But I also might put it in the category of “chair” if it has wheels and I can sit on it, but I can kind of roll around the room,
I’m still going to put it in that category of “chair.” And I might still put it in the category of “chair” if it doesn’t have a back but it still has a seat and four legs, I might put it in
“chair,” I might put it over here in “stool,” but I’m still going to put it into some kind
of category. That is just our natural way to easily classify
things so we know how to interact with them. That part, there’s nothing wrong with that,
because we can’t, you can’t not do that. That is just how our brain is wired. So the same thing goes with, when I walk into the room, you’re putting me into a category. You’re seeing an African American woman, who has locks in some kind of weird hairstyle today. And because of all that, you put me into some kind of category. The fact that my nametag has a little blue
ribbon which tells you that I’m the speaker for today, that caused you to put me into some
kind of category — hopefully she knows what she’s talking about because she’s going to
be in the front of the room. You know, so you kind of put people in a category. Now the question, the challenge becomes: does
that get in the way of seeing the actual person. So depending on how you’ve labeled your box… If you say, well, speakers have to spout a
lot of statistics and speakers tend to be kind of boring, I’m just going to presume
that she’s going to be boring because speakers are boring. You know, because that’s how I’ve categorized
her and then now I have to kind of fight my way out of this box to not be boring and not
fit your preconceived idea. And that’s just, again, how we tend to do,
but what we need to do is be open to letting people get out of that box and recognizing
that that box is something that we created. And we need to be more flexible and allow
people to be individuals, not just a label. The other challenge about understanding cultural sensitivity is that there’s not one right answer. It would be so good if we could just Google
it and there’s just one right answer. But there’s not one right way to treat people
of a particular racial or ethnic group or cultural group or whatever. So, even if with me, depending on the day,
depending on the audience, sometimes I’m black, sometimes I’m African American, whatever I feel like calling myself that day. And so, how therefore can I expect you to
call me the appropriate title when I haven’t decided what label I’m using for myself that day. And I might feel very strongly “I’m an African American woman, you better not call me anything else” and the woman standing right next to me may feel very strongly she doesn’t like that term. There’s not a right, there’s not a wrong,
it’s about understanding people and understanding how they wish to be treated, which you can’t do until you have conversations with people. Alright, so, now, having said all that, let’s
go to the sweeping generalizations! [laughs] So, on the one hand — and this is what makes this so challenging — because on the one hand, it makes absolutely no sense to put
people in the boxes. But on the other hand, there are some actual differences between groups of people. That because of how people are raised and
traditions that are passed down, there are different ways that different cultural groups see the world, different practices, different habits, different ways of interacting with one another… And so it is important to understand some of those differences. So if we look at — but also understand that they’re sweeping generalizations — so let’s kind of make that, have that caveat there. So, if we look at some of these sweeping generalizations about African Americans: In general, diagnostic procedures — this
would be one that I would do for a healthcare organization — diagnostic procedures may
be viewed as an invasion of privacy. So what does that mean? For some people, for some African Americans, they’re not going to want to, for example, go get a colonoscopy — not that everybody’s like “Yeah, colonoscopy!” — but for some cultures that’s more invasive, viewed as more invasive than others. There’s this notion of the whole village being involved in raising the family. So what does that mean from an organization’s perspective, a healthcare perspective? That means that you need to recognize that you might be talking to somebody’s “play aunt” who’s not really their aunt but who’s the person that’s been helping to raise them and they’re going to want to know what’s going on with that person’s medical condition, even though they are not a blood relative. So how do you deal with that when that’s really
somebody who’s involved in that healthcare decision? Other things: in the African American community,
there’s a tendency, it’s considered respectful to call somebody Mister or Miss — use that
title — and their last name until you’re given permission to call somebody by their
first name. So if you just jump to calling somebody by
their first name, it could potentially be viewed as very insulting. And then also recognizing that religion or spirituality may play a very important role in healthcare. So the person may want to have their spiritual adviser there, have their pastor there. So, on the one hand, yes, this is true — may
not be true for even all the African American people in this room right now — but these are some trends that we tend to see among these communities. Now, again, we also need to recognize — and this is what makes it challenging — that this does not apply to everybody. And it can’t, because even when we look at some of the terms that relate to different groups, how can you say “Asian Americans” when we use that term for people from Afghanistan, China, India, Syria, Japan. People that just got here, people who’ve been
here for decades. How can you say “Asian Americans act this way”? That doesn’t even make any sense. It just doesn’t make sense. When we say African American, we’re talking about thirty million people who have, who share some characteristics, usually just physical, that relates them to over 800 million people from all over the continent of Africa, which is made up of a bunch of different countries and who speak over 2,000 different languages. So, does it make sense to lump all those people
together? “Native American” might be people that are
mixed or unmixed, that have a portion of Native American lineage or who are 100% Native American. There’s 500 different tribes, they may or
may not even identify themselves as Native American. So does it make sense — well we’re just going
to dump them all in the same box and treat them all the same way? It does not make sense. “Hispanic” includes people from Mexican, Puerto
Rican, Cuban, Salvadorian, Dominican backgrounds, people from Central America, South America
and other Hispanic or Latino origins. And again, we’re going to just put ’em all
in one box and say “They behave this way.” It does not make sense. And, so, for me, what makes more sense is
that rather than trying to cram this person into this box and say “I’m going to, you know, you belong in this box, I’m going to treat you this way” —
how about I have a conversation with you? How about I figure out what’s important to
you? How do I make sure that I am respecting you
and you’re respecting me? And we’re aware of the fact that it’s not
like — [whispers] “I’m black” — you know, it’s not a secret, he probably figured that
out. So it’s not a secret. Visually we’re aware of each other’s differences,
but we’re not just immediately saying, “Oh, I have to use this language, I have to use
this term, he probably believes this, she probably believes this.” It’s about let’s deal with each other as individuals and figure out how we can communicate effectively. Rather than spending the bulk of the time
talking about “these people behave this…” — you know, it’s like a bad stand-up: “black
people always…” Rather than doing the stand-up routine, let’s
focus on how are we different, and what are some ways that we can improve our communication. So, what are some of the ways in which our
communication gets mixed up, from a cultural perspective? Understanding that there are differences in
how direct we are. That in some cultures, the goal is to get
right to the point. So, if I’m upset with you, I’m going to say,
“I’m upset with you. Here’s why. X, y and z.” For other cultures, it is, you should just
assume that by my body language and that by my failure to talk about certain subjects. And again, for all of these, it’s not that
there’s a right or a wrong, it’s recognizing that these might be different ways of handling things. Different subjects for communication — appropriate
subjects for communication differ among groups. So, for some people, in the workplace, you
should only be talking about work. For other people, because you’re with these
people — if I’m more of a collectivist, come from a more collectivist culture, it’s about
the group and it’s about the people, maybe I want to talk about my weekend, my relationship,
what I saw on TV last night, because we’re all together and we need to kind of bond on
every level in order for us to get the work done. Whether or not we show emotion differs culturally. And again, the reason these are important
to know is so that you understand that the person that is talking like this [gesticulating],
they’re not angry, it’s just how they talk. And so you just need to understand that some
people are going to be very emotional, they may cry, they may yell, but it’s a cultural thing. And for other people, they may just be very
straightforward, and they may not ever use any hand gestures, and that’s just how they
communicate. Not one that’s right, not one that’s wrong,
just different. The same with how we use loudness, pitch,
and silence or even how we deal with conflict. So dealing with conflict, some people can
say, “Let’s push pause on the personal issues, get the work done, and then deal with our
personal drama we have going on.” Other cultures, it’s: “We can’t possible get
the work done, if we differ. So let’s focus on resolving our conflict,
getting on the same page, and then doing the work.” So it’s just about recognizing that
we have these differences. It’s also important to recognize that there
are differences just in our gestures and our facial expressions. So that for, for the most part, smiling might
mean that you’re happy but in some cultures a smile does not mean that you agree. It just means “I’m being polite
while you’re talking, but I might not actually agree with you.” So if you have a patient that is smiling,
that doesn’t mean that they’re happy with the news that they’re receiving. It may not even be that they understand, but
they’re just being respectful and just smiling, and perhaps even nodding. But even with that — with nodding — in some
cultures, this [nods up and down] means “no” and this [nods side to side] means yes. Just that simple thing can be different from
culture to culture. How close we are to one another. So for some people, being very close is intimate. In our culture, our culture meaning America
/ United States, if I’m standing very close to someone, that suggests that we, we’re in
cahoots, we have an intimate relationship, maybe we’re involved with one another. But in other cultures, that’s just how close
you stand when you talk with someone. So someone might be coming up close to you
and you’re kind of stepping back, but that’s just normal speaking distance. Whereas for other people, normal speaking
distance is far apart. So even that is something you want to pay
attention to. Different ideas about time. Some people, if the meeting starts at 12:00,
that means that you’re there at 11:55, and that’s just cultural. For others, 12:00 means 12-ish — you get
there when you get there. And, you know, the meeting starts when everybody
gets there and that’s all. Whether or not physical touching is appropriate. And I’m going kind of quickly through these,
but recognize that there are religious differences [around] who can touch whom. And that for some cultures, it would never
be appropriate for a woman of any religion to touch a man. For some cultures, the man can touch a woman
of his own religion but not a woman of another religion. So just, again, it’s not about “Oh my gosh,
how am I going to keep all this straight” — it’s about recognizing that if you go to
shake someone’s hand and they don’t extend their hand, it’s not that they don’t like
you. It may be a cultural difference, it may be
a reason that they can’t shake hands with you. And so we don’t just jump to those kinds of
conclusions. And I’ll just mention the eye contact, which
is the big one. Which is, that in some cultures, you show
respect by not making eye contact. That is so critical to know because that’s
one of those things that really gets misinterpreted. It’s like, “She didn’t even look at me in
the eye.” Yes, because she respected you. And, and, you know, even sometimes we talk
about, you know, the exchange of money. Do you put the money down on the counter? Do you put it in the person’s hand? Again, putting the money down on the counter
is actually a sign of respect in some cultures. So putting it in your hand would be inappropriate. It’s not that “I don’t want to touch your
hand, it’s that it’s inappropriate for me to put the money in your hand.” So the point of all this, really, is just
to understand that we want to follow what we call the “Platinum Rule.” So rather than the “Golden Rule” of treat
other people the way that we want to be treated, we want to follow the platinum rule, which
is treat other people the way that they would want to be treated. Which means we need to understand how they
want to be treated and focus on our communication so that we can be culturally sensitive. Thank you.

15 thoughts on “Cultural Sensitivity & Diversity (20 minute training course preview)

  1. Yes we all have biases, that can't be helped but your goal is to stifle them. Don't tell me that I "need" to check my privilege or some nonsense like that. Rutgers has been slipping for many decades now.

    What's happening here is the exact antithesis of what Dr. Martin Luther King taught. Of course I'm not LITERALLY color-blind. But I don't sit around focusing on how different people are. I don't understand it, the whole civil rights movement was about equal treatment. Now it seems that this "diversity industry" wants to go out of their way to differentiate people. When I say "color blind" what I mean is that I don't take color or anything else into account, only personality and whether they're a good person or not. Maybe if we weren't so hypersensitive about anything then we wouldn't have to worry about how each thing might be perceived by different cultures. That's why cultural competency is such a crock.

    My philosophy: "Just be good to each other, use the golden rule and everything will work out. And if the other person offends me I express my displeasure and walk away, I don't call the PC police and whine about "feeling unsafe" and run off to my safe space. What are we teaching kids these days? That anytime they hear something they don't like they can just declare it hate speech and go run into the corner and hide from the world? We're doing a severe injustice by doing this, yet we're so caught up in political correctness we can't get out of our own way, and the result is bullshit like this, trying to analyze each and every difference.

    Yes I want diversity but it has to be true diversity, where all thoughts, backgrounds, and political opinions are truly respected. If we have a mix of races and cultures then that's a bonus, but force-fed racial diversity just for it's own sake? We have a word for that, it's called racism. It seems like the people who scream loudest about tolerance are the LEAST tolerant people. They want diversity but as soon as they hear something that they disagree with it, they declare it "hate speech" and try to silence it. That is not diversity, it's thought-policing group-think and it's the exact opposite of diversity.

  2. "Understand other people's cultures and point of view." Why do I get the feeling that half these people, if faced with a Donald Trump supporter, would scream about hate speech? Understanding others' moves is only half the equation. There has to be an understanding on the part of the recipient that they aren't causing physical violence to you just because they disagree with you. And the way the speaker laughed when someone said "political opinion" says it all.

  3. I like your content, but your delivery needs work. I agree 100% with the topic, content, and message overall!

  4. This is America! We have Southern, Northern, and Western culture! We don't need to understand other (foreign) cultures! If they're here, they need to learn ours! I have never taken diversity, culture, or sensitivity training in my life and I never will! I don't care if it's required or not! I refuse to take it! I piss and shit on diversity and multiculturalism! I stugatz it forcefully! Foreigners need to take assimilation training! That's what needs to happen! If you're a born citizen or an immigrant, you need to assimilate into Americana! We don't need to have training to accept your foreign cultures and customs! And gender diversity! Don't get me started on this one! Suffice to say, I treat it the same way! I refuse to ever take such pantywaist, smarmy, spineless training as diversity, sensativity, or gender training!

  5. 2:43 This woman knows her stuff. Diversity of personality. This stance got Apple's chief of Diversity fired (mind you, it was a black woman).

  6. Sensitivity training and cultural diversity equals re-education camps in the old Soviet Union and present-day China. Oh and don't forget North Korea.

  7. I never had a problem communication with people of any race or religion. So what has changed since the 80’s? I don’t get it. People have t changed , races and religions were there and we never had these problems where you
    Need diversity training .

  8. These training courses usually are directed to make society in general accept what a particular group has in their agenda

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