you go through the cycle of adjustment, your awareness of the host country culture
naturally increases. This awareness tends to progress through a series of levels,
I. Unconscious incompetence
has also been called the state of blissful ignorance. At this stage, you are
unaware of cultural differences. It does not occur to you that you may be making
cultural mistakes or that you may be misinterpreting much of the behavior going
on around you. You have no reason not to trust your instincts.
II. Conscious incompetence
now realize that differences exist between the way you and the local people
behave, though you understand very little about what these differences are,
how numerous they might be, or how deep they might go. You know there’s a problem
here, but you’re not sure about the size of it. You’re not so sure of your instincts
anymore, and you realize that there are some things you don’t understand. You
may start to worry about how hard it’s going to be to figure these people out.
III. Conscious competence
know cultural differences exist, you know what some of these differences are,
and you try to adjust your own behavior accordingly. It doesn’t come naturally
yet—you have to make a conscious effort to behave in culturally appropriate
ways—but you are much more aware of how your behavior is coming across to the
local people. You are in the process of replacing old instincts with new ones.
You know now that you will be able to figure these people out if you can remain
no longer have to think about what you’re doing in order to do the right thing.
Culturally appropriate behavior is now second nature to you; you can trust your
instincts because they have been reconditioned by the new culture. It takes
little effort now for you to be culturally sensitive.*
paradigm is based on work by William Howell.
explore the Four Levels of Cultural Awareness see if you can recognize them...
In each box, select the stages
of awareness you think may fit to the person making the observation.
Some observations may go in more than one stage.
I understand less than I thought I did.
These people really aren't so different.
There is a logic to how these people behave.
Living here is like walking on eggshells.
These people have no trouble understanding
It's possible to figure these people out
if you work at it.