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Culture with Colleagues

Aug 31, 2016

Being able to talk about how a person’s cultural context influences the way she approaches her work is an important way that program leaders can provide support to staff members.

Professionals can use the process of cultural reciprocity to examine cultural differences, establish a shared understanding, and build a stronger working relationship with families. Cultural reciprocity is a four-step process initiated by the provider that requires awareness, communication, and negotiation of culturally based beliefs, values, and assumptions, and which assists professionals to address culturally based differences and identify mutually agreeable solutions. It is a two-way information-sharing process, meaning that families and professionals each share information about themselves, their cultures, and their beliefs to develop a common understanding of the problem (Kalyanpur and Harry, 1999). This process of give and take, both parties listening and learning from the other, helps parents and providers to move beyond their differences and focus instead on understanding and compromise.

The values underlying the process of cultural reciprocity are mutual respect, collaboration, and reciprocity. Mutual respect refers to the acknowledgment that both parents and providers contribute an equally valued perspective to the dialogue. Collaboration describes the emphasis placed on partnership and the sharing of decision-making power that is inherent in this model. Reciprocity refers to the need for understanding, compromise, and open-mindedness that is integral to resolving any challenges that may arise.

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