How do you Learn About People's Cultures? Start by Becoming Aware of Your Own Culture

How do you Learn About People's Cultures? Start by Becoming Aware of Your Own Culture


Mark Crear, Ph.D.


slava-bowman-161206It may seem odd that in order to learn about people in other cultures, we start by becoming more aware of our own culture. But we believe this is true. Why?

If you haven’t had a chance to understand how your culture has affected you first hand, it’s more difficult to understand how it could affect anyone else or why it might be important to them. If you are comfortable talking about your own culture, then you will become better at listening to others talk about theirs. Or, if you understand how discrimination has affected you, then you may be more aware of how it has affected others.

Here are some tips on how to becoming more aware of your own culture:



Do you have a culture? Do you have more than one? What is your cultural background?

larm-rmah-216854Even if you don’t know who your ancestors are, you have a culture. Even if you are a mix of many cultures, you have one. Culture evolves and changes all the time. It came from your ancestors from many generations ago, and it comes from your family and community today.

For example, if you are Irish American, your culture has probably influenced your life. Your parents or grandparents almost certainly handed down values, customs, humor, and world views that played a role in shaping your growing-up environment and your life today. Perhaps your views towards family, work, health and disease, celebrations, and social issues are influenced by your Irish heritage or by the experiences your family had when they immigrated to the U.S.

In addition to the cultural groups we belong to, we also each have groups we identify with, such as being a parent, an athlete, an immigrant, a small business owner, or a wage worker. These kinds of groups, although not exactly the same as a culture, have similarities to cultural groups. For example, being a parent or and an immigrant may be an identity that influences how you view the world and how the world views you. Becoming aware of your different identities can help you understand what it might be like to belong to a cultural group.



Try listing all the cultures and identities you have: (This is just a list of suggestions to get you started. Add as many as you think describe you.)

What is your:

  • Religion
  • Nationality
  • Race
  • Sexual identity
  • Ethnicity
  • Occupation
  • Marital status
  • Age
  • Geographic region


Are you:

  • A female
  • A male
  • Disabled
  • From an urban area
  • From a rural area
  • A parent
  • A student


Have you ever been:

  • In the military
  • Poor
  • In prison
  • Wealthy
  • In the middle class
  • In the working class


Did this help you think about your identities and cultures? How have these different cultures and identities affected your life?



crearMark Crear, Ph.D., is not only a life and business coach, but also a two-time Olympic medalist, inspirational speaker, performance consultant, published author, ordained minister, and Professional Christian Counselor. This USC alumnus, with over 15 years of world class Olympic level success and experience, first captured attention by winning the 1996 Olympic Silver Medal with a broken arm and the 2000 Olympic Bronze Medal with a double hernia (110M High Hurdles). Notwithstanding, Mark is a board member of the International Christian Coaches Association, as well as, the director of BAACC (Black African-American Christian Counselors), a culturally competent counseling division of the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC).