What culture is the best culture? Which culture has invented this delicious dish or that technologic approach considered the cutting edge of its time? What culture do you consider superior?
The conclusion is that in the eyes of every culture that very same culture is superior to the rest. (Honestly now, does your best culture happen to be your own?) Having that said, what effect does this Cultural Superiority Bias have on Cross-Cultural encounters? What cultural form of leadership is to be followed? What absurd (in one’s own eyes) demands could you find yourself needing to adhere under a new boss or fresh business acquisition?
Before suggesting a few techniques for elegantly managing such tense multi cultural realities, here are a few illustrations for how deep Cultural Superiority Biases are rooted.
Ancient maps tend to beautifully mark the location and commissioners of that map not only in the center of the region but rather in the center of the entire world.
France’s Cultural Superiority Bias was boldly executed in the process of simply naming French colonial practices. While technically conquering lands in Africa the naming of this harsh military practice became “Mission Civilisatrice” – a global mission to civilize natives. With such a major component of Cultural Superiority embedded in military doctrines, it was only a matter of time for philosophers, writers and intellectuals to anchor France’s Cultural Superiority Bias in interdisciplinary proofs.
In Jewish religion and cultures the Cultural Superiority Bias is immanently present. A quote from the Kiddush – the Friday evening blessing for Shabbat – states “ Ontanu baharta ve’otanu kidashta mikol haamim” meaning Thou (referring to God) have chosen and have blessed us out of all nations. (On a personal note, my mother and other liberal jews insist on replaceing “..Im kol haamim” with “Mikol haamim” meaning Thou has chosen us With all the other nations rather then Chosen us From all other nations.) Another example for the Cultural Superiority Bias in Judaism is in the naming “The Chosen People”. Who would not like to consider themselves as The Chosen?
Cultural Superiority Bias is often reflected in linguistic terms and phrases and at times extend to beliefs that any human will obviously speak a certain language. I have seen an example for this with Americans traveling out American territorial grounds and deliberately speaking to locals in English. The act of speaking English as a matter of fact that any human on earth can certainly understand English, is an act deriving from the same subconsciousness ruled by a Cultural Superiority Bias. When an American comprehends the local has a difficulty in understanding their message they often times repeat themselves a little slower, still in English. Cultural Imperialism does often come hand in hand with Cultural Superiority Bias.
What Can You Do?
You will definitely navigate better in Cross-Cultural turmoils when bearing in mind that all is relative. Try bearing in mind that Cultural Superiority Bias exists in every culture to some extent and when it is absent there are other complexities. Remind yourself that such deep superior beliefs form consciously and subconsciously ways of thinking and acting that exist around you. You may encounter them in managing a global team, cultural crisis management and attempts to mediate conflicts. Even when traveling and trying to “be friendly” (in your cultural eyes) your pleasant manners may not always please people from different cultures.
So yes, your culture is the very best, just as all the other cultures are as well.
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