Increasingly today, people come into regular contact with individuals from different cultures and it’s important to learn to talk with people who may not share a common language, background, and/or worldview. Each of us participates in at least one culture, and most of us are products of several cultures Being aware of our own culture and background is really important as it helps us understand how we are shaped by what we have experienced.
Even within cultures, we all have different attitudes and beliefs based on our experiences and this will impact on the way we relate to people both professionally and in our personal life. Learning to value diversity, to become conscious of our ways of relating to each other and their ways of relating to us, does not come easily to most of us nor is it something that can be imposed from the outside.
In Valuing Relationship (1995), Lewis Brown Griggs sums the interrelationship of knowing ourselves and building relationship with others as follows: “Knowing myself is what allows me to know, understand, and value the diversity of others so that I can build trust with them. With more trust comes the ability to communicate more clearly, to problem solve and network more effectively, and to realize the value of synergistic relationships and productive interdependency. Together, investing in my relationship with myself and enhancing my relationship with others are important insurance policies against lost opportunities.” (page 210)
Griggs, L. B. (1995). Valuing Relationship: The Heart of Valuing Diversity. In L. B. Griggs & L. L. Louw (Eds.), Valuing Diversity: New Tools for a New Reality. McGraw Hill, Inc: New York.