March 31, 2021

What is Your Culture? Understand Yourself and Understand Others, with Sara Taylor

Episode 76:

What is Your Culture? Understand Yourself and Understand Others

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • Why the first step in developing cultural competence is to “see self”, the secret to more effectively understand yourself and understand others
  • Sara offers a simple exercise that can help you better define and understand your culture, and she explains how uses this question in training to create an eye-opening experience
  • Why it is important to differentiate your cultural descriptors by whether they are frames or filters, and how frames and filters differ
  • Sara defines her personal frames, such as being White, cisgender, and female, and her filters, such as being extroverted, competitive, and a woman small business owner
  • Why identifying your filters is critical in seeing yourself and understanding how you relate to the world and the people around you
  • Why paying attention to your interactions throughout your day can help you see how your filters often make your decisions for you
  • Why it is so important to understand your own culture and see yourself, and how this can help you better understand others when you first understand yourself

What is Your Culture? Understand Yourself and Understand Others

What is your culture? It’s a deceptively simple question…but the answers you arrive at can help you understand yourself and understand others in a more personal way. Take a moment to think about it and list as many identifying factors about your culture as you can.

Now, let’s talk about the difference between frames and filters. Frames are descriptors about you, immutable facts such as your ethnicity, your age, your gender and your sexual orientation. Filters, however, are the ways you interact with the world, such as being highly focused, introverted or patient.

Your frames are defined traits, but your filters are subconscious tools you use to make decisions. It’s within these subconscious filters that you can get to the heart of how you interact with difference. These filters inform many of the choices and decisions you make, and truly “seeing” yourself and your filters clearly can enable you to understand yourself and understand others better.

How You Show Up in the World

We often allow our subconscious minds to make quick decisions for us; it’s a natural process and one that generally happens in the background without our active mental input. However, developing cultural competence requires us to take a look at these filters on a conscious level.

When you understand the filters through which you interact with the world, you can begin to consciously change your filters to better suit your interactions. This can be transformative, and it’s the key to improving your skill in cultural competence.

Understand Yourself and Understand Others

In this week’s episode of the What’s The Difference podcast, I gave an example of trying to teach fish about land and air. Fish only have experience with water, and so teaching them about land and air would mean first teaching them about their own environment so that they can identify and recognize how land and air differ from their experiences in water.

There are parallels between teaching fish about land and air and recognizing and learning about difference in people and in cultures. For us to understand someone else’s very different experiences in life, we must first create a reference point by understanding ourselves. Then we can begin to see and acknowledge the difference.

Here’s an exercise to try: in the coming week, really begin to pay attention to your filters and how they inform your interactions and choices. Observe yourself and your moment-to-moment thoughts, feelings and behaviors, and try to recognize when your filters come into play. In doing so, you may begin to recognize patterns in yourself that can truly help you understand yourself and understand others on a more effective level.

Understand Yourself and Understand Others

About Sara Taylor

Sara Taylor earned a master’s degree in Diversity and Organizational Development from the University of Minnesota. She served as a leadership and diversity specialist at the University of Minnesota for five years and as director of diversity and inclusion for Ramsey County, Minnesota for three years.

Sara is the founder and president of deepSEE Consulting and has worked with companies as large as Coca-Cola, General Mills, 3M Company, AARP, and numerous others. She has a new book, “Filter Shift: How Effective People See the World,” that explores how our unconscious is actually making choices and decisions for us, all without our knowing — and how to change that.

How to Connect with Sara Taylor: