Gratitude, Humility, Empathy, Care, and Kindness are essential elements of human interaction both within and between our cultures. Culture is largely determinative of one’s expectations of others meaning that cross-cultural interaction is fraught with opportunities to “clash” as different expectations of interaction come into conflict causing confusion and inhibiting effective collaboration.

This course provides you with a 5-part model for thinking more deeply about how you foster cross-cultural skill development in your career services practice.

Multiculturalism is a term that is used so ubiquitously that many may hesitate to define the term even though they have a deep sense of its meaning. This course will begin each lesson taking a sociological view of one aspect of culture as a companion to each component of the G.H.E.C.K. Model. I will provide curated on-line content (both videos and readings) to lay the knowledge basis for the topic before using a closing dialogue in which I will discuss and demonstrate approaches to the topic of each lesson.

So, let’s set the stage for the course before we begin the first lesson…

View the video from the organization Crash Course below that provides a useful sociological history and definition of the term culture across multiple philosophies and applications. The video is 9:32 in length.

The focus of this course is the development of your capacities to interact with career clients in an effective cross-cultural manner while also applying these concepts in your work with clients so that they too may grow in their cross-cultural skills.

My goal for this class is to give you a different on-line course experience. One that encourages you to ask questions that have remained unasked, to think deeply about your own experiences of work, and to shift your career services practice to better incorporate ideas that are foundational to human flourishing and happiness as they relate to cross-cultural skill development.

The primary audience for this course is any career services professional (e.g., coaches, facilitators, human resource professionals, counselors, psychologists). The principles forming the foundation of this course call upon the fields of career development, sociology, positive psychology, and neuroscience research. We know so much more each and every day about how humans’ function as well as how to build our capacities to do so while thriving!

At the conclusion of the course, you will be able to:

  • Understand how your own culture has reinforced your expectations of others via the non-material cultural artifacts of symbols, beliefs, and norms. Gratitude for your own culture is the focal point of this step in the process.
  • Cultural humility is a necessary attribute to develop to effective work cross-culturally.
  • Deepening your work with cultural empathy allows you and your clients to navigate career development and workplace processes effectively.
  • Effective care requires skill, particularly cross-cultural care in the workplace where one’s cultural expectations will inevitably clash with those of colleagues, clients, and workplace cultures.
  • Focus on kindness as an outcome of coaching and counseling, particularly kindness towards the culture of others through understanding how little our cultural social position is determined by our own choices and efforts.

This course has five major sessions (or lessons). In each you may be asked to read text or documents, view web links videos, internalize what you are learning when you write in your course journal, and answer questions about the course content on a worksheet. When you are asked to perform any of these activities, this will be listed in red.

As you move through the course, you will track your progress by answering questions on a worksheet. This worksheet will be submitted to the instructor at the end of the course to verify your earned continuing education units.

Download  the worksheet here.   

All parts of the course are copyright protected. You are not authorized to share any of the materials in any way.

On Cultural Gratitude

 Let’s jump right in with this excellent video from Crash Course that digs even deeper into the sociological foundations and complexities of culture. Please view the following 9:39 video below:

Now, this video was very U.S.A. focused. I decided to retain it in the lesson because it fits the content of the sociological view for this course; and also, to make a point in real time of the challenges of working cross-culturally.

The cost of this choice is that the references and point-of-view are not cross-culturally competent for my non-Western students. This is a common difficulty when working cross-culturally; intellectual content is created in a cultural context and thus with cultural bias. What are we to do?

  1. Acknowledge the choice made and your thinking behind the choice.
  2. Mediate the bias in the choice by sharing a mediating choice and your thinking behind that choice.
  3. Acknowledge that the “perfect” choice with no culture behind it cannot exist.
  4. Listen to feedback from your audience (e.g., student, client, participant) with the promise to make your choices better the next time.

Now, to role model this behavior. I think I have completed step #1 above. For step #2 I offer the following about culture from an Asian perspective. Now, I made this choice for two reasons: 1) The East/ West cultural difference is one of the most common agreed upon ways that we talk about cultural differences although it still excludes many cultural groups (e.g., Middle East); 2) Asian career services professionals are my largest audience (or at least equal to that of the U.S.A.) of followers in the world.

The following video is my choice. Following #3 I will acknowledge that it is not a perfect choice. I use this video because it provides a platform for young people from different countries to express their own ideas of culture. Second, I am limited in that I only speak English and this course (for now at least) is an English language course therefore I needed English language videos or translations. Finally, the platform Third Culture is a great informal YouTube channel that explores cultures from all over the globe by interview young people from those cultures. I encourage you to view the video below and subscribe (NOTE: I just watched the Persian episode recently and learned a lot!).

How did I do? Please provide me with feedback by email (Step #4) to to help me learn from you and improve my cross-cultural skills.

Let’s take a moment and shift from laying the intellectual foundation of this course, particularly culture itself, and begin to think about your own culture. Now, I want you to keep a journal throughout this course. This can be an existing journal you use, a document you keep on your computer desktop, or a sketchbook you choose to doodle in throughout this course. The important thing is that your journal works for you AND that you use it!

Many of the journal prompts will come from me as written text but for this first entry I am going to rely on our friends at the Teaching Tolerance to provide a handout that can be incorporated into your journaling assignment.  Find it here.

You might either print the handout OR draw a similar schema in your journal – you get to choose!!

Please take 5 minutes and write your first entry by sketching out your multicultural self.

As a follow up to your first entry, let’s make a second entry to create a schema or model of thinking about your own culture moving forward. I want you to picture in your mind a recent client who was culturally different from you. Using the document from Teaching Tolerance in the link below  , think through the different things that make up our frames and note the different things that make up your cultural differences.

For example, using the list provided you might note differences in Neighborhood, Religion, Age, Gender and so forth. You might have to “guess” about some of these differences. Write in your journal for 10 minutes about all of the aspects of FRAME difference between you and the client you are remembering for this exercise.

Take a mindful moment and check in with yourself. Do you feel a difference in your own emotional state after journaling? How do you feel about your understanding of your own culture?

Finally, I do want to note that using the F.R.A.M.E. model is useful as a personal “check-in” when working across cultures. It provides the essential questions to explore whether or not you are applying your own cultural assumptions in creating expectations of others that are unfair and therefore not useful.

Now, I would like to guide you through the first dialogue for the course. I use the term dialogue versus lecture or presentation because I hope to engage you in a dynamic process of personal exploration and learning. In this opening dialogue, I will use the above activity to demonstrate how gratitude for our own cultural identities helps us deepen our understanding of self and therefore prepares us to better understand others.

Please view the first dialogue at 2-:50 below.

Now that you have finished with Lesson 1, answer questions 1-3 on your worksheet. Once finished with that, you can go to Lesson 2!

On Cultural Humility

How are you thinking about your professional career services practice after Lesson 1? Has anything shifted for you? Are you more aware of how culture creates your expectations of others? Was the process of learning about yourself as a cultural being easy or difficult for you?

 A question: Which of your cultural identities did you choose?

   In fact, take 5 minutes and write a response to this question in your journal.

Looking at my own response to this query, I did not choose:

  • the year of my birth (1971);
  • the family in which I was raised (my biological parents, younger brother, extended biological family)
  • my sex (male)
  • the community in which my family had lived since 1752 (rural, Pennsylvania, USA);
  • the culture of my community (Appalachian);
  • my sexual orientation (“straight”);
  • the school in which I learned (Juniata Valley Elementary and Jr/Sr. High School);
  • the religion of my family (Methodist);
  • my genetic predispositions for health (one inherited genetic disorder I am aware of);
  • my genetic predispositions cognitive ability (have always been considered “smart” for my family);
  • the career history of my family and community (agricultural, working class, non-educated – I am a first-generation college student).
  • Finally, I did not choose my race (White or Caucasian) or ethnicity (I am unsure how this can be described).

The reality is that the societies in which I live and work have created expectations based on many of these unchosen identities. Currently (because we know these expectations and prejudices will change over time), being born in 1971 as a White, straight, male (among other advantageous identities) residing in the United States provides me with more positive expectations and opportunities than most other identities. This is because recent history (hundreds of years) has been dominated by humans with these identities too.

It is important to remember, I did not choose these identities nor did I choose the preceding history that created the expectations and privileges I derive from them.

Knowing that I did not choose these identities, and knowing this history is an important contextual F.R.A.M.E. that if understood makes me feel great cultural humility.

Lesson 2 will use the identities of race & ethnicity to explore cultural humility. Let’s begin with a video from Crash Course describing the sociological differences between race & ethnicity. I would like to note again that I have searched for videos from non-Western (particularly U.S.A. in this video) and diverse perspectives but still find Crash Course the best course of sociological explanations and remain open to other options.

View the 10:58 video here:

Hopefully that got your brain juices flowing! Remember from Lesson 1 that culture (the non-material variety that we are focused on in this course) creates expectations based on our interpretation of symbols, values, beliefs, and norms. We then transmit our culture in our interactions with others. Failing to pay attention to our assumptions or expectations of others, we might transmit unfair expectations OR demonstrate unfair bias which is detrimental to cross-cultural relationships.

At the interpersonal level, these unfair expectations and biases can be called microaggressions. At a broader social level, unfair expectations can be called systemic racism or oppression with extreme manifestations leading to racial slavery, genocide, and other forms of brutality. Of course, race/ ethnicity has NEVER been the only cultural identity by which prejudice has been organized.

Let’s listen to a career specific, and nuanced, example of ethnic identity and career development from national sportscaster Anish Shroff, a first generation Indian-American.
View the video lasting 11:47 below:

Anish does an excellent job of describing a career goal, to help clients arrive at the liminal space of career decision. A liminal space can be described as the “time” between “what was” and “next.” It is a threshold between where you have worked to come from and where it is that you will go. Cultural bias of any type, including ethnic bias, keeps people from arriving at the liminal space where the choices are theirs and the lives they are living are theirs as well.

What can you do as a career services professional to demonstrate cultural humility with clients? How can you acknowledge and mediate the cultural biases towards race/ ethnicity that exists in the world-of-work? Or, as Anish asks: Why do we not help all people “get to the threshold where I can fail or succeed?”

Let’s explore these questions further in the dialogue for Lesson 2. View the 10:11 dialogue below:

To end, I would like to bring your thinking about cultural humility back to where we began with a focus on race/ ethnicity. The reality is that we don’t know with a great sense of accuracy how race/ethnicity play out in the current world-of-work. Much of our knowledge is from more than 10 years ago, before the 4th Industrial Revolution really accelerated to impact work everywhere. Furthermore, the intersectionality of others factors with race/ethnicity make it difficult to make definitive statements about the work experience. Let’s with great intellectual humility read about a recent study that exemplifies the complexity of career development as it pertains to race/ ethnicity.

 Read this article.

In this Lesson 2 we learned about cultural humility, how it undergirds cross-cultural skill development, and its relationship to what we learn from gratitude. In Class 3 we will tie this directly into cultural empathy development and working.

Now that you have finished with Lesson 2, answer questions 4-6 on your worksheet. Once finished with that, you can go to Lesson 3!

On Cultural Empathy

Welcome to Lesson 3 where we will add to our cross-cultural skills toolkit by focusing on cultural empathy! How is class for you thus far? Are you spending the necessary time to self-reflect? Can you find movement in your own thinking and perspective? Keep working at it either way…

 Cultural empathy can be defined as a general skill or attitude that bridges the cultural gap between people. People must integrate an attitude of openness with the necessary knowledge and skill to work successfully across cultures by creating a sense of mutuality and understanding across differences in value and expectation that cross-cultural interactions often involve (Ridley & Lingle, 1996).

Gender are the identities that we will use to explore cultural empathy in this lesson. Let’s begin with our friends from Crash Course. View the 9:01 video below and I will catch you on the other side:

I find the argument in the video completely compelling: “If gender arose only from biological differences between men and women then we would expect to see all cultures defining masculinity and femininity in same ways – but we don’t.”

Now… the lack of a rationale counterargument about socialization and gender difference does not mean this aspect of identity and culture is simple. In fact, it is quite complex particularly in the field of career development. The article below paints a very brief picture of the current literature on sex and gender differences, providing links to much of the recent research. Read the following post and we will discuss on the other side.

 Let’s take 10 minutes and write an entry to your journal about the following cultural empathy experiment:

  1. Choose a gender that is different than yours (male, female, transgender, genderneutral, non-binary, agender, pangender, genderqueer, two-spirit, third gender, and all, none or a combination of these). To familiarize yourself with any of these identities, please visit here.
  2. Imagine going to your workplace (or that of one of your clients) tomorrow as a person with the gender identity you have chosen. Beginning with opening the door, narrate the day at work focusing on experiences that would likely be distinctly different from yours because of the gender difference.

Let’s now listen to an expert on transgender identity in the workplace as they describe their experience, and that of others, at work in the United States. View the 10:53 video below:

Aligning positive intentions with inclusive impacts is a key takeaway from Lily’s presentation.

Let’s check-in with our intentions first. As you listened to these stories, did you find your mind’s eye working to understand more and more or were there defensive barriers in your mind? It is okay, and important, to be honest about this. The reality is that we are all somewhat captured by our cultural expectations at first and must choose to do our own work where our unfair and inaccurate biases might lie. Next steps in this care might be watching more videos about gender identities, reading Lily’s book, finding opportunities in your local community to learn.

It is common for people to believe that empathy is a trait that one is born with; scientifically this would mean that most if not much of the reason for empathy would be genetic. This is a commonly held assumption yet more research suggests that our genes account for 10% or less of the variance, or reason for empathy. This suggests it can be seen as a skill and thus learned (for more information on the science, please see Lesson 3 of G.H.E.C.K. I in the Reframe Your Career Game curriculum).

Relational-Culturally Theory is an excellent basis for digging deeper into this kind of cross-cultural work. Basically, this course is a type of action oriented primer on RCT but I will rely on our colleagues from NCDA to introduce the theory and its application to career work. Read the article found here.   

Let’s use the dialogue video to dig a little deeper into how we might apply cultural empathy skills into our career services practice so that your impacts can become more inclusive. View the dialogue 11 minutes below.

I hope you are looking to learning about Effective Cultural Care in Lesson 4. Now that you have finished with Lesson 3, answer questions 7-9 on your worksheet. Once finished with that, you can go to Lesson 4!

On Cross Cultural Care

Welcome to Lesson 4, On Care. Like Gratitude, Humility and Empathy I see Care as something better thought of as a skill than otherwise. Too often in my community work (mostly in diverse, urban communities) I have seen people show up to help on their own terms without thinking about the needs or cultural differences in their community. The results can be at times disastrous. Thinking of caring as a skill affords us the opportunity to slow down, think, learn, reason, and adapt our care for others to be effective.

In other words… caring should be about the needs of cared for and not the needs of the one providing the care.

Intersectionality – the analysis of how race, class, and gender interact to create systems of disadvantage that are interdependent is the cultural identity topic for this lesson.

Let’s look closer at the definition of intersectionality… view this a short 3:03 video about the term.

Our sociological look at intersectionality is well captured by the Four I’s of Oppression. View the 3:23 video below:

Dr. Yamonte Cooper synthesizes these concepts effectively for career services professionals.
Read his excellent article  .

My hope is that the presentation of these complex ideas encourages your thinking that effective care is more than a feeling or desire to act, but in fact is a skill that takes knowledge and practice to perform.

How can one effectively care for others when cultural identities are so many, their intersection is so complex, and all of this occurs within interlocking systems of oppression?

Broaching is the primary technique I use in this regard. Day-Vines (2007) defines broaching in the following quote, “broaching is more than consideration or acknowledgement of racial and cultural factors; it refers to the counselor’s explicit efforts to both initiate and respond to the sociocultural and sociopolitical concerns during treatment.”

Using this one “meta-technique” is important to me for two reasons:

  1. A singular focus helps me from becoming overwhelmed by the complexities of cultural, intersectionality, and oppressions. This is not to avoid the complexity, but to help me remain consistent and engaged with my cross-cultural commitment.
  2. Broaching as a technique puts the responsibility on me, a person often with more power, to open the door to aspects of cultural identity while empowering the client to define the identities important to them, decide whether or not I am a safe person with which to discuss intersectional issues, and determine how to incorporate culture into their career development process.

Before we transition to the dialogue video, please read the brief report on broaching.

Please view the short dialogue found below where I will further discuss Broaching and the 3 D’s identified above. Length 13 minutes.

Please spend some time before the next lesson sitting with this lesson. Do you know what you need to know and how to show effective cross-cultural caring?

Now that you have finished with Lesson 4, answer questions 10-12 on your worksheet. Once finished with that, you can go to Lesson 5, the final one of the course!

On Cross Cultural Kindness

My sincere hope is that you have reached this stage of the journey looking forward to this final lesson, on being kind.

 Social stratification is the sociological topic for our final lesson together. We will rely on our friends at Crash Course one last time. While the host is the same, I am happy that the focus is primarily global in nature.

View the video below:

Wealthy countries, poor countries, and all in between are interdependent upon one another over time. When exploitation happens, as it has throughout history, it eventually inhibits the wellness of all (e.g., Climate Change). This is difficult to understand in smaller increments of time (e.g., decades) but does hold true over centuries. In reality, we will interact with one another as a global community, this is more relevant today due to the technological revolution (i.e., 4th Industrial) of our time.

Work is certainly impacted by these broader sociological questions. Read the recent report that summarizes several students from across the globe.

So… this is NOT an international politics or sociology course. These contexts, and the questions posed from different perspectives, are important to understand as they determine the environment within which we and our clients work. Regardless of our view on global social stratification, our job is to understand our clients in their context and help them navigate the world-of-work available to them within social limitations while advocating for fairness and justness.

Take a moment and read a portion of Pradip Chattopadhyay’s poem When Lose A Job.

With the job you lose goes the earn
don’t think there you would be stuck
soon for you the tides would turn
come knocking your door good luck.

You never really loved the job you lost
money was the only call
but it made you pay a high cost
and the return was meagerly small.

Ruined your hours numbed your soul
the job robbed all your smile
surely on you took a heavy toll
caged your mind all the while.

Money is the need to pay the bill
for even breathing needs buck
but the job you lost stole your free will
made you to be a lame sitting duck.

First, take 5 minutes to write about loosing your current job. In other words, imagine as if you lost the job you have now. If you were to write a poem, what would some of the emotion focused words in your poem be (you may write a poem if you are so inclined).

For the next 5 minutes, I want you to imagine that Pradip got your job (imagine it was outsourced if you will). Would your job change Pridip’s need for money? How would it feel for their bills to be paid? Would the emotion focused words likely change in the poem? What would they change to?

Write in your journal now for 10 minutes.

My instinct is that you will find the following in your thoughts and on your journal page. Gratitude for what your job provides. Humility in the face of the fact that the job is yours and not someone else’s. Your writing process is an exercise in empathy for Pridip. Thoughts of care for yourself, and then for Pridip and their family likely seeped into your mind.

View this video of length 2:30.

The G.H.E.C.K. Model is based on the scientific relationships between gratitude and humility (bidirectional) with empathy, care, and kindness. These are mutually reinforcing aspects of our perception and have great power to change our cultural expectations and cross-cultural skill.

Kindness is often defined as being generous and considerate. I see this very differently than being nice. I see kindness as acting with great care for oneself and the other. Please register for my G.H.E.C.K. I course to learn about the science of kindness and the other G.H.E.C.K. variables.

My hope is that you are feeling awash in kindness as you prepare for the final dialogue video in this course. View the video below. Length 9:31.

Now that you have finished with Class 5, you are finished with GHECK Check II the course! Answer questions 13-15 on your worksheet.

Thank you for choosing this course, giving your time to consider the content, and investing in your development for the sake of your clients.

Send you completed worksheet to me for review. When complete, you will receive your certificate of completion.

 Please complete this evaluation.


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