By Sgt. 1st Class Reginald L. Douglass
WSMR Installation EOA
There is a distinct link between cultural competency and the ability for a unit to function as a cohesive team. What does this mean to us? A primary factor in any functioning entity is its ability to communicate, regardless of who is contained therein. Military units have a unique makeup which calls for the ability to not only understand that people come from a multitude of backgrounds and cultures, but they also communicate differently.
With the wide variety of individuals who join the armed services, there is a necessity for understanding how people communicate. Although each service has its own unique style of communication and jargon, there remains a need to communicate commonalities, which can only be achieved through understanding the individual. No two persons are alike, so this means a collective learning process must take place to allow the parties involved to look at things such as his or her birthplace, nationality, ethnicity, family status, gender, age, language, education, sexual orientation, and religion. Although this is not a guarantee of communication, it does lead to increased understanding and some degree of commonality to build upon.
As understanding of a person’s background is increased, a bridge of sorts is formed because no matter how small, we as people automatically find a common thread upon which to build any relationship. Once that commonality is established, people begin to communicate such things as basic beliefs, thought processes, social norms, and individual values further improving the bonds between them. When the threads of camaraderie are combined with a common goal, people begin to communicate more efficiently and tend to be more intensely vested in one other.
The investment in each other is what any unit is dependent upon. This is the very fabric upon which goals are achieved. Once a unit can communicate, regardless of its cultural differences, and has an understanding of its own diversity, it tends to work more closely within itself. A cohesive unit is able to capitalize on the things which make its members different and use the individual strengths, this only done with an understanding of where each member comes from and how they communicate within the organization. It goes without saying, if you cannot get through individual differences, you cannot accomplish anything that is dependent on a team. Unit cohesion is very reliant upon and enhanced by the collective’s ability to understand and communicate across all cultures. Cross-cultural competency enhances mission readiness and promotes unit cohesion.
Works Cited: www.deomi.org/StudentServices/ClassIntro.cfm. Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute.
Web. August 2013