Cultural Shock & Sensitivity
This is a draft cheat sheet. It is a work in progress and is not finished yet.
Culture Shock is the physical and emotional discomfort one suffers when living in another country. Most likely everyone will go through some degree of culture shock. It is a natural process.
Stages of Culture Shock
1. The Honeymoon Stage: Everything is new and exciting and one feels as though one is on vacation.
2. The Hostility Stage: One may start to have difficulties adjusting and therefore start to criticize the culture. This may happen when a person is trying to adapt to a new culture. Things are no longer new and exciting.
3. The Depression Stage: Negative feelings reach a climax and one feels lonely and negative. Boredom sets in and working full-time becomes very difficult. One doesn’t want to be involved in the community. The transition between old methods and new ones can take time.
4. The Acceptance Stage: One realizes the good and the bad about the culture. One starts to become more comfortable and makes friends as the understanding of the new culture begins.
Symptoms of Culture Shock
Withdrawal (or mixing only with people from one’s own culture)
Sleeping too much
Feeling irritated with others
Not being able to work well
Lack of confidence
Sadness and loneliness
Crying for no particular reason
The uprooting trauma
Loss of social support system
Change in economic status
Adjustment to educational system
Parenting dilemmas /role reversal
Like an iceberg, the part of culture that is visible -observable behavior - is only a small part of a much bigger whole.
10 Steps to Cultural Sensitivity
1. Take the initiative to make contact.
2. Show respect for other cultures, languages, and traditions.
3. Learn how to pronounce names correctly.
4. Be sensitive to others’ feelings regarding their homeland.
5. Speak slowly and clearly.
6. Be yourself.
7. Take time to listen.
8. Don’t make promises you won’t or can’t fulfill.
9. Be genuine with your friendships.
10. Don’t allow cultural differences to become the basis for criticism and judgments.
10 Tips for Better Communication
1. Use both verbal and nonverbal communication.
2. Cultivate patience and listen attentively.
3. Show interest in learning about other cultures.
4. Avoid stereotypes.
5. Check what you think you heard.
6. Accept silence.
7. Do not make quick judgments.
8. Ask open ended questions.
9. Speak slowly in plain English.
10. Do not ask too many questions.