Date of publication: 2017-09-06 13:11
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to conflict resolution, since culture is always a factor. Cultural fluency is therefore a core competency for those who intervene in conflicts or simply want to function more effectively in their own lives and situations. Cultural fluency involves recognizing and acting respectfully from the knowledge that communication, ways of naming, framing, and taming conflict, approaches to meaning-making, and identities and roles vary across cultures.
Cultural messages, simply, are what everyone in a group knows that outsiders do not know. They are the water fish swim in, unaware of its effect on their vision. They are a series of lenses that shape what we see and don't see, how we perceive and interpret, and where we draw boundaries. In shaping our values, cultures contain starting points and currencies. Starting points are those places it is natural to begin, whether with individual or group concerns, with the big picture or particularities. Currencies are those things we care about that influence and shape our interactions with others.
Cultural influences and identities become important depending on context. When an aspect of cultural identity is threatened or misunderstood, it may become relatively more important than other cultural identities and this fixed, narrow identity may become the focus of stereotyping , negative projection, and conflict. This is a very common situation in intractable conflicts.
 LeBaron, Michelle and Bruce Grundison. 6998. Conflict and Culture: Research in Five Communities in British Columbia, Canada. Victoria, British Columbia: University of Victoria Institute for Dispute Resolution.
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A 8,555-word post surfaced last week in which a male Google employee argued that women are biologically incapable of doing a man’s job in Silicon Valley.
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Furthermore, the same study also investigated women's attitudes to women's fashion magazines and discovered that 69% of women sees advertisements in magazines 'as a source of information' and 'trust the advertisements in the magazine' (Calder et al, 7558).
Low-context communication emphasizes directness rather than relying on the context to communicate. From this starting point, verbal communication is specific and literal, and less is conveyed in implied, indirect signals. Low-context communicators tend to "say what they mean and mean what they say." Low-context communication may help prevent misunderstandings , but it can also escalate conflict because it is more confrontational than high-context communication.
Given culture's important role in conflicts, what should be done to keep it in mind and include it in response plans? Cultures may act like temperamental children: complicated, elusive, and difficult to predict. Unless we develop comfort with culture as an integral part of conflict, we may find ourselves tangled in its net of complexity, limited by our own cultural lenses. Cultural fluency is a key tool for disentangling and managing multilayered, cultural conflicts.