Workplace cultures
Exploring and Embracing Differences on the Job

Every moment of every day we experience a range of cultures in the forms of language, attire, education, religion, generations or gender identity. 

Our workplaces are melting pots of cultures. The workplace itself has its own culture, plus the plethora of cultural identities each person brings. Here are 

a few suggestions to approaching cultural differences:  

  1. Be self-aware and sensitive to others. For example, we Minnesotans tend to quickly identify people who aren’t from here by saying “You’re not from around here” or “Where are you from?” Instead, using a statement like “Tell me about yourself” sounds more welcoming.
  2. Put yourself in their shoes. Perhaps you know the cultural norms and don’t have to worry about saying or doing something wrong. Credit is due to people who work in environments that are not natural to them. That in itself adds more stress to their daily lives while also getting their work done. 
  3. Be honest, be open-minded and avoid assumptions. Acknowledge you do not know about {insert aspect} of their culture and ask them to explain what it means. Also, be considerate. Is it better to talk one-on-one versus during a lunch with other coworkers? 
  4. Show some respect. Take it upon yourself to learn how to pronounce everyone’s name and ask for help if you need it. If you’re embarrassed about not pronouncing it correctly, shake it off. I guarantee there will be great appreciation for you attempting to do so.

The reality is no one needs to conform to your culture. However, we are much more alike than different. Our paths may look different, but our basic human values are the same. That’s our culture. 

About Author

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Peggy is a mission-driven leader, entrepreneur, social explorer and advocate for all things moving women forward. She is currently employed with the American Cancer Society and is the founder of SheTaxi.

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