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The Need for Cross-Cultural Competence (3C). Overview. What is Culture Cross-Cultural Competence (3C) Why Understanding Culture is Important. What is Culture?. Culture is like dropping an Alka-Seltzer into a glass—you don’t see it, but somehow it does something .

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  • What is Culture
  • Cross-Cultural Competence (3C)
  • Why Understanding Culture is Important
what is culture
What is Culture?
  • Culture is like dropping an Alka-Seltzer into a glass—you don’t see it, but somehow it does something.
  • ~ Hans Magnus Enzensberger (German author and poet)

Culture is roughly anything we do and the monkeys don’t.

~ Lord Raglan (British

Soldier 1788-1855)

what is culture1
What is Culture?
  • As applied to areas of the world to be conquered and colonized:
    • We have culture and you don’t!
    • Civilized vs. Uncivilized
  • Tylor’s Definition:
    • “…that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.”
ethnocentrism vs cultural relativism
Ethnocentrism vs. Cultural Relativism
  • Ethnocentrists see their culture as best and by default measure all other cultures by their own standard
  • Cultural Relativists are open to trying to understand different cultures within the context of that particular culture

Thought Question: Can Airmen always be cultural relativists?

building our definition of culture
Building our Definition of Culture
  • Culture…
    • is a state of mind
    • involves affiliation
    • is a tool
    • is made up of domains
building our definition of culture1
Building our Definition of Culture
  • Characteristics of Culture
    • Learned and shared
    • Symbolic
    • Holistic
    • Influences and is influenced

So when we add all this together we get…

our definition
Our Definition
  • Culture is the creation, maintenance, and transformation across generations of semi-shared patterns of meaning, sense-making, affiliation, action, and organization by groups
  • -Air Force Culture and Language Center
what is competence
What is Competence?
  • “Having suitable or sufficient skill, knowledge, experience, etc., for some purpose; properly qualified.”
  • ~ Random House Dictionary
  • How do we know someone is competent?
understanding competence becoming an af pilot
Understanding Competence: Becoming an AF Pilot
  • Physical Requirements
  • Get Commissioned (USAFA, ROTC, OTS)
understanding competence becoming an af pilot1
Understanding Competence: Becoming an AF Pilot
  • AF Undergraduate Pilot Training (academics)
  • Flight Training
  • Operational Aircraft Training and Qualification
cross cultural competence
Cross-Cultural Competence
  • The ability to quickly and accurately comprehend, then appropriately and effectively act in a culturally complex environment to achieve the desired effect.

But developing 3C is also a process

cross cultural competence1
Cross-Cultural Competence
  • Culture-General
    • Knowing what culture is
    • Understanding foundational concepts of culture
    • Developing basic skills in dealing with different cultures
  • Culture-Specific
    • Becoming familiar with regionally specific knowledge and language that will orient you to various cultures

FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLE: Those who have the most cross-cultural competence are the ones who possess knowledge, skills, and attitudes in BOTH of these areas.

why understanding culture is important
Why Understanding Culture is Important
  • It helps you become “The Other”
  • It is a force multiplier
  • It is a means of building stable institutions
  • Being “The Other”
    • When you deploy, you are defined by the natives as “The Other”
    • Usually a very narrow definition: American Military
  • Becoming “The Other”
    • You see yourself as the other person sees you

“When two people meet, there are really six people present. There is each man as he sees himself, each man as he wants to be seen, and each man as he really is.”

~ Michael De Saintamo

But there is also each person as the other sees him or her.

How does this happen?

becoming the other
Becoming “The Other”
  • You look at yourself through the native’s cultural lens
  • You become less ethnocentric and more cultural relative
  • You can better adapt your words and actions
culture as a force multiplier
Culture as a Force Multiplier
  • A capability that, when added to and employed by a combat force, significantly increases the combat potential of that force
  • Geographical terrain vs. human terrain
  • “Many hands make light work”
building stable institutions
Building Stable Institutions

“…we are helping the long-suffering people of that country to build a decent and democratic society…”

~ Former President George W. Bush, Sep 2003

  • One of our goals—Assist people caught in conflict to develop stable institutions (e.g., political, social, economic, etc.)
  • US Africa Command (AFRICOM): Leverages “relationships between security, development, diplomacy, and prosperity; enables DOD to focus its resources to…help African nations, the African Union, and the regional economic communities succeed.”
the bottom line on 3c
The Bottom Line on 3C
  • Developing and enhancing your 3C abilities will help promote better relations with foreign cultures and coalition partners, and will ultimately help you exert positive influence in culturally complex situations

“Cross-cultural awareness and sensitivity are…basic survival skills for almost everyone.”

~ Craig Storti, cross-

cultural author and trainer

  • What is Culture
  • Cross-Cultural Competence (3C)
  • Why Understanding Culture is Important