What is Culture?

Monthly Archives: July 2013

What is Culture?

123RF Culture 8840141What is culture?  Culture dictates the norms of every group. These norms, or unstated rules, are the accepted and expected ways of behaving and interacting with other people. But culture is something that we don’t always see. Culture is something that we learn. From infancy on, we are conditioned to act, react, and learn about how people in our world do things from watching them, conversing with them, and interacting with them. In sum, culture includes a group’s communication patterns; how a group solves problems; and how a group perceives and passes on its shared values, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors, including its perception of self, group, environment, authority, and power.

The word “culture” comes from Latin, cultura, which literally means to grow or cultivate.  The closest meaning that the Romans would have attached to our understanding of group interaction would be humanitas which was associated with human events.  It is the engagement of one human being with another.  Thus, knowing something about this will help us to understand another person’s world view, and the most basic assumptions he or she holds about others who are different.

The word “communication” comes from the Latin verb, “communicare”, which means to share; to make common to many.  In order to share common information we need to make sure that we’re on the same wavelength, or frame of reference.  It’s hard enough to communicate with those who are similar to us or who know us well – but it’s even harder to communicate when each of us is not does not have the same idea in mind.

For many of us, we’re only now coming to grips with the idea that our own beliefs aren’t shared by everyone and that culture is hardly value-neutral.  As is often the case, we forget that not everyone perceives or reacts to situations nor communicates in the same way. GlobalBizLeader’s© goal is to focus on the act and processes of communicating with people in a diverse workplace.

GlobalBizLeader© looks at the intersection of culture (values, beliefs, attitudes, behaviors) and communication (sharing ideas).  This website looks both broadly and specifically at issues and opportunities that are increasingly important as the business world shrinks and grows more interdependent.  As time zones blur and fewer restrictions are imposed on the global movement of capital, raw materials, finished goods, and human labor, people will cling fiercely to the ways in which they were enculturated in their early years of development and socialization.  In order to become more effective in daily interactions at work, home or abroad, it is essential that people develop a keen awareness and understanding of the differences that exist regarding human values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors.  In today’s global workplace, we must be able to embrace such differences and acknowledge them as opportunities for learning and enrichment rather than forces for confusion and trouble.

In order to participate as a global leader, and to cultivate our understanding of human interactions, our goal is to have more-successful intercultural interactions, to become more culturally literate. GlobalBizLeader© will not provide you with instant recipes for quick success; rather, it will provide you with information that you can use as a blueprint. By examining this blueprint – the basic underpinnings of culture (looking at the general) – we can translate this into everyday interactions (looking at specific instances). The aim is awareness of self and others and to acquire and use information that will equip us to take action every time we interact with someone who approaches life from a different world view, and communicates on a different wavelength.

The late interculturalist, Marshall Singer, believes that the goal for intercultural communication is not just better communication, since conflict and misunderstanding will always be a part of the human condition. While we can never eliminate misunderstandings because of cultural differences, misperception is less likely if we are aware of the tacit subtleties that create the potential for conflict.

Conclusion: By laying out the basic concepts of cultural differences, GlobalBizLeader© hopes you will look inward to understand yourself, and then look outward to interact successfully with people who come from different frames of reference.  This website provides the services and resources to do just this.  Read on – this website provides the services and knowledge to achieve successful global leadership!



Marshall R. Singer, Intercultural Communication: A Perceptual Approach (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1987).