Cultural Competency Workshop Opens Minds to Accepting Everyone Despite Their Differences

On the April 10, FBLP hosted an engaging and eye-opening Cultural Competency Workshop led by Samantha Maldonaldo from Pinpoint Solutions.

The goal of the event was to make attendees think about their own place in the world and how they choose to show up and purposefully and mindfully connect with others of diverse backgrounds.

Maldonaldo encouraged everyone to be curious, checking themselves about their unconscious biases as well as recognizing the value people of other cultures can bring to your life, your business and possibly your family.

She started the workshop with an exercise where everyone had to introduce themselves, tell what they thought cultural competency was, why they were at the workshop and what they hoped to achieve. The person speaking had a ball of yarn and had to throw it to the next person who would then speak. By the end of the task, a spider web of yarn existed between the participants representing that our ideas are all connected and so are we.

Maldonaldo went on to explain that cultural competence is the ability to interact effectively with people of different cultures. It also means to be respectful and responsive to the health, beliefs and practices-and cultural and linguistic needs- of diverse populations groups.

When it comes to looking candidly at our own cultural competence we can be either in:
-Denial that (it/other cultures) even exists;
-Defense feeling that our personal culture is the ‘true’ culture;
-Minimization feeling that the cultural differences are inconsequential;
-Acceptance recognizing that differences exist are important and should be respected and valued;
-Adaption where you routinely shift your thinking and behavior to incorporate different cultural perspectives; or
-Integration where you integrate other cultural views into your own.

Maldonaldo stressed that relationship building is fundamental to cultural competence and fully understanding each other. That you need to be aware of your own feelings and perceptions, filters and behavioral preferences. But you also need to understand and seek the “why behind other people’s cultural preferences, attitudes, perspectives and behaviors. She added that to be successful in business you need to inspire trust, collaborate, motivate and inspire prospects, clients, colleagues and suppliers from divers cultural backgrounds.

Maldonaldo challenged attendees to think beyond skin color when it comes to cultural competency. She pointed out that someone from a different culture than you could have a different sexual preference, education level, political views, ethnic background, family upbringing or occupation. There are many things that make people culturally different from one another.

Maldonaldo reminded us that misconceptions can really effect a person’s perceptions of someone who is different than themselves, and we need to learn to meet people where they are at, listen without judgement, share stories/experiences and ask questions to genuinely learn.

Maldonaldo closed her presentation by reminding everyone that different isn’t bad, it’s just different. She added that it is learning through the discomfort and being curious to listen and appreciate the journey’s of others that we truly learn to accept one another’s differences. She said we should not limit people to simple idea or box, because people are complex, and come with many different layers to who they are. She encouraged everyone to make the purposeful choice to recognize and appreciate those layers.

The final takeaway was that we all need to make it our goal to live by the Platinum Rule: To treat others how they want to be treated.”