Transforming Perspectives

What is Culture?

To the average American, culture is often thought of as the traditions and practices of racial and ethnic minorities. Some people of European ancestry in the U.S. may even think of themselves as having "no culture", although white culture is pervasive throughout the world as a shared reference.

According to the Intercultural Studies Project, culture in a broader sense is: "the shared patterns of behaviors and interactions, cognitive constructs, and affective understanding that are learned through a process of socialization."

In other words, culture is what affects the way a person acts, interacts, thinks, and feels in a way that is shared with others of that same group.

As such, every human being is born into a culture, sometimes more than one, and can absorb cultures or forget cultures as time passes.

Culture is inclusive of a broad range of groupings that affect shared behaviors, thinking, and emotions, including but not limited to: age, gender, religion, class, sexual orientation, nationality, ability, education, and other personal and social identities, such as environmentalists, homeschoolers, etc. Institutional cultures, such as corporate and academic cultures, can also exist alongside these other individual and group cultures.

Understanding the coach and client's personal and group cultural influences is essential to any effective coaching relationship, as much as understanding corporate culture is an important aspect of executive coaching.

The practice of
cultural humility can support the coach in becoming more culturally-aware in the coaching engagement.

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