by Ms. Ema Silva
A culture bump happens when a person expects that someone from another culture acts or reacts the same way as he/she does in his/her culture. Its when you bump into someone else’s different behavior or attitude. According to Carol Archer (2012) it may happen whether the person is “aware of it or not”, and they may go through a disconnection moment in which they do not know what is going on in that exact moment. To get to the connectedness part, the person has to go through the eight steps of culture bump which include pinpointing the bump, describing the behaviors of the persons involved in the bump and listing the feelings. After going through the eight steps, you get to the connectedness phase.
Connectedness happens when the person realizes that they are having a culture bump moment and decide to understand it by understanding why the other person is acting differently as well as getting to know the responses of “all the actors” and understanding each other’s point of view.
Let’s take Marina for example. She has a bump moment when trying to greet someone that is not from her country. She was about the kiss twice on the cheeks of the girl she was just introduced to because that is what she would do if she were in her country Angola. But since she was in America, she realized that things were different because the girl stepped back and showed her her hand. At that moment of the bump she thought that the girl was rude, but a few minutes later she realized, “Wait a minute, we are from different cultures.” And she explained her reasons to the girl and they understood each other and exchanged experiences in past culture bumps that they had. There was a connectedness because they realized that they had very similar thoughts even though they were from different cultures, countries and ages. This is what the connectedness is about – it is about realizing that although we are different in many ways, we may still have similar feelings like love, friendship and the willingness to make others feel happy. These are worldwide feelings and that is how we may connect with others.
Something that helped Maria and the other girl connect was the fact that both of then went through a culture free moment. What is that? As Dr. Archer says, “It happens when people make “culture bump explicit”, when they realize they are going through a bump – which is step one, when they “focus precisely in commonalities.” For instance, Marina and the girl started sharing experiences showing that bumping into other cultures, habits and attitudes is a normal thing that happens everywhere with everybody. When you decide to go culture free, you are deciding to stop looking at your culture as the best and start understanding other people’s cultures. Instead of judging or having an unchangeable point of view, the person decides to understand a bit more of other cultures and their habits. It is almost like taking off your culture (imagine a costume) and looking at it from an outside view so you can better understand what the other person may have thought about you given the fact that he/she did not know it before.
These two components of culture bump are important because they help us to deal better with differences. You may be able to connect with people around the world if you decide to be a little more open to understanding other cultures.