Comments: Cultural Awareness - What Does That Actually Mean?

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Mark , Jamaica NY   09/29/10
I like the approach of cultural competence not cultural awareness. Coming from a county (Queens, New York) that boasts over 170 languages spoken, it is impossible to inventory let alone remember the ideosyncracies of every cultural group. Therefore the issue is how to mediate when the parties are from different cultures. I say that you mediate the same way for one as any other culture. From your opening statement you present yourself with humility and offer that you want to respect everything that has meaning for all parties. We use an approach we call value-centered mediation inspired by the work of Viktor Frankl which is based upon the belief that everything we do or create, every relationship as well as our suffering and conflicts have meaning and value. Culture is an important element that underlies the meaning and value that the components of the conflict contain. Therefore we need to ask parties what meaning and value a particular element has for them so that its relevant importance and basis can be presented. This is the primary impact of culture in the broadest sense on conflicts. The answer to this issue as in most is the humble use of the process.

David Silvera, Tel Aviv Is     09/29/10
good Article -But.....
It is a good article that indicates the equality of human being -with no difference what so ever. But,in most intercultural conflicts, the issue is the personal behavior which is based on community social norms and beliefs. we in Israel face much cultural differences among immigrants, Jews and Arabs, Bedouin and druze. as mediator you have to take into account the customs , which -sometimes are different from the society norms or even the law..

Ernest Treagus, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia     09/28/10
Cultural Awareness
I think the author needs to define exactly what he means by 'culture' (suggestion: attitudes, values, beliefs, etc) as superficial dynamics of individuals do not define the culture of those individuals. But they may be a dynamic of a given dispute and therefore must be identified and included where relevant in the dispute resolution process. p.s. I didn't realise we skips were so slow in our business dealings?

Patti Bertschler, Seven Hills OH     09/28/10
When in doubt, ask
I've also attended cultural awareness/diversity classes and did not walk away with the same impressions as the author. One important lesson was the Platinum Rule (as opposed to the Golden one). Do unto others as they would have it done unto themselves. In order to know what others want, we need to ask them. For example, I always begin sessions by asking, "Does it bother you that I am from a different (race/culture) than you are.?" or "Do you prefer to have a mediator who is from your own (race/culture)?" And while no one has ever said "yes, it bothers me/us," it does show that I am interested in their feelings and preferences. Clients seems to appreciate the question. Also, if a mediator senses that something is "off," he/she stops the conversation and addresses the potential problem. In our Elder Mediation book (@2009), we interviewed several mediators around the world who work with Native Americans, Asians and other cultures. There are definite differences in how they approach mediation. For them, there is no one-size-fits-all approach.

Gerda Govine , Pasadena     09/28/10
Simplicity is not bliss
Alan: I applaud your right to share your opinion and I believe that there are oh so many different perspectives that flies in the face of yours.Being aware is good and it is what you do with it that makes a glass half full or half empty. It is everyone's choice. Welcome to the Real World.