DiversityDNA: your unique cultural DNA profile

DiversityDNA: your unique cultural DNA profile


We often see others as one or two dimensional. We tend to identify people with shorthand – the Italian guy, the red-haired woman, the Chinese kid – well-meaning generally but we reduce that person to a single characteristic you do it and it’s done to you yet none of us is a singular characteristic. The reality is far more diverse and far more interesting. Each one of us has a unique cultural DNA profile. Every person is composed of hundreds, thousands of components which define your “self”. Physical characteristics include age gender weight, skin tone, hair texture eye shape and color, musculature bone structure disabilities even the size of our feet Mental components – whether psychological or neurological — may
include memory, curiosity, cognitive capabilities maybe an aptitude for math, music, art or language emotional expressiveness and even your ability to read a map or follow directions. Experiential components may include childhood experiences, such as
family size, structure and wealth; where in the world you grew up; your educational background; service in the military; or perhaps the Peace Corps marital status; parenthood; the type of work you have done; and a wide range of life experiences. In addition, we have various cultural
and organizational affiliations. These types of affiliations can include your ethnicity ancestry, religious connections, political parties, community organizations even the sports team that you favor All of these aspects of yourself affect how you perceive the world, and how it perceives you. Most importantly, this complex brew impacts on how we each behave and think as reflected in our different values and beliefs,
attitudes, customs, traditions, and what we think is normal. This plays out at work from who you befriend, to the type and color of clothes you wear, to how and whom you demonstrate respect, what role you assign to luck or hard work, to your expectations of a new co-worker or your boss, to how you engage in and resolve conflict with a
co-worker or customer. Every aspect of how you communicate and behave at work is shaped by your own cultural DNA profile. And we each tend to assume that everyone else is just like us. They think the same, see things the same, find the same things funny
or offensive, communicate the same. But, have you played with the Rubik’s Cube puzzle? One cube made of six flat colors, nine squares each, equaling fifty four little squares. Mix them up and then return them to the original configuration. The most popular puzzle in the world because it is so simple and yet so difficult. And why is it difficult? Because those fifty-four little squares can form over forty three quadrillion patters -that is, one thousand million million- Think about that, every person is made up of far more than fifty
six components -many thousands really- and the possible combinations to make up each individual are almost infinite, certainly far more than a mere forty three quadrillion. This means that while there may be some overlap each one of us act according to a somewhat or dramatically different set of beliefs or expectations or values and we may understand any given situation quite differently than the person standing only two feet away. For example, You might firmly believe that showing emotion
at work is unprofessional and childish whereas a colleague may just as firmly believe that showing passion about an issue shows sincerity and dedication. So when you two have a disagreement, you think that your colleague is being loud and obnoxious, but your colleague think that you’re cold, heartless, and don’t care about the issue. Of all the pieces that make up who we are less than ten percent of that is actually immediately visible. Like an iceberg the far larger ninety percent of our “self” floats well beneath the surface as we move through interactions during the
day. Some components or attributes are easily visible: our age, our gender, our weight, the words we may use. Some attributes are on the “waterline”, sometimes visible, sometimes not: sexual orientation, race, disabilities, religion. And then the submerged attributes, such as our job history and skills, family background,
education, others like experiences, and perhaps most importantly the internal and implict values and beliefs and expectations we have about of every aspect of life and existence. These include orientation toward time, how we perceive power, our approach to risk,
our reaction to conflict, and how we communicate. It is typically the most deeply submerged values and
beliefs which clash at work, and yet we often assume that the other person is just being unreasonable or outrageous or downright rude. If a new client calls you by your first name: is he being friendly or disrespectful? If your co-workers are chatting about their
Families, are they wasting time or establishing a good team relationship? If your boss tells you that you need to improve your writing skills is she trying to get rid of you or help you succeed? If your office mate complains to management about a small bonus, do you think he’s being embarrassingly arrogant or do you applaud his drive? Do you throw your hands up and say “how could
I possibly make sense of these puzzles?” Here are six simple examples of some submerged attributes which will help you piece together and better understand the picture of your own cultural
diversity DNA and that of the people you work with. Enjoy! Or my daughter might say, “buon appetito!”

11 thoughts on “DiversityDNA: your unique cultural DNA profile

  1. I LOVE this!!!!! This is such a wonderful video. Its fun, colorful, educative and most importantly very personal and interactive. I was thinking about all the circumstances in my life that resonates with what the video says – and I have to say I was surprised with the number of instances that came to my mind! Very thought provoking!

  2. I am so happy to read your comment and hear how useful this video is to you and your work. I love your last line – every interaction is indeed intercultural communication I imagine that the week you spend teaching focuses in on a variety of details and allows the students/adults to internalize the learning. We are working on an online "self-assessment" tool based on our diversityDNA concepts. Let me know if you'd like to be notified of our release date, we'll put you on the "early notice" list.

  3. I want my students to see this. High school students can see that their impact on the internet is influence in part by this cultural dna…. YourNetImpact d o t c om

  4. This is such a wonderful presentation that explain diversity so well. I teach team management in college and this is a very useful tools to explain the importance of understanding each team member's diversity background

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *