Culture and Morale – Chapter Eighteen

Culture and Morale – Chapter Eighteen

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Co-operation and contribution can overcome cultural differences.


Cultural differences are the result of our conditioning. The culture of a people is a direct result of the conditioning of the people around them. Many cultural differences come from different belief systems formed by this conditioning. Interaction between different cultures results in an expansion of both. Often the opposite is also true. What should be assimilation often turns to alienation because of our conflicting beliefs. Most conflict comes from rigid religious or racial beliefs.

I was born in England and have lived most my life in Australia. I worked for months at a time in China and Thailand. I have worked in America, Denmark, Holland, New Zealand and elsewhere. I have worked in every state in Australia and have found differing cultures in all places. The culture in the city is different to rural culture in all these places and each place is different to the other. I have worked for a number of different companies and the culture of one organisation can be greatly different to another.

What is normal? Nothing! What seems normal to one person seems abnormal to another. It is often difficult to understand others from our own limited cultural belief system. No two people have the same life experiences or are exposed to the same cultural beliefs. There can be similarities based on similar beliefs. But different personalities and life experiences will create different belief systems. No two people can see the world in the identical way. We are all looking at the world through a different set of filters. Even people from the same family will have different belief systems.

When we are looking at a cultural belief system we are looking at a dominant set of beliefs of that culture. These dominant sets will vary from culture to culture. Some cultures are similar and some seem poles apart.

There are some basic elements to integrating cultures. Co-operation and contribution are the foundation on which all else sits. Co-operation allows for the different belief systems of others. Respect (which is a part of co-operation) is not imposing your own beliefs on others and the individual rights of others. We all have the same genetic needs and co-operation and contribution to society meet those needs. Respecting the laws and rules of the culture you are in is the foundation for integration.

I wrote earlier about how human beings survived through learning to adapt. When you enter a country with a different culture to the one in which you were born, learning to adapt to this culture makes for happiness. You must adapt to integrate. Adaptation enables integration. Integration facilitates acceptance. Many Greeks and Italians have migrated to Australia, bringing with them a culture rich in food and wine. The British probably introduced fish and chips and beer, the staple diet of my teenage years! This has enhanced the Australian culture by adding to it. We now have a culture rich with all the foods of the world. The contribution and co-operation of new migrants helped build Australia into the country that it is today. New immigrants adapted to new laws and rules and yet at the same time they could enhance the culture of this country by adding to it. Elements of their culture enhance the new culture.

Another thing I like about the culture of Australia is the culture of volunteering time for worthy causes, for the greater community. Every junior sporting club is filled with such volunteers. This is probably the reason why we fare so well in sport despite our small population. This is where we see co-operation and contribution coming together to create a culture that benefits all.

Image 1If the culture of an organisation is one of fear, this will spread like a cancer through the organisation and result in poor morale.



In business the culture of one organisation can be vastly different to another. Often the culture of an organisation is determined by the management. In some organisations people are treated like people. In other organisations people are treated like dispensable numbers. This is often transferred into the way they treat their customers, resulting in poor customer service. Profit numbers are often becoming more important than providing a service to the community or developing a positive culture in a company. If the culture of an organisation is one of fear, this will spread like a cancer through the organisation and result in poor morale. If the culture is based on co-operation and contribution this culture will flourish and so will the company. In a company with a culture based on co-operation and contribution, profit will follow like the cart follows the horse. The culture of a company is also reflected in the morale of the people working for it. One person in a position of management can create poor morale in an organisation through disconnecting habits. The boss manager doesn’t promote a culture of co-operation and contribution. They create a culture of disconnection and disempowerment and poor morale follows.

We often see managers who believe they are at the top of the tree but who are only making decisions for the benefit of themselves. Good management realises it begins at the bottom of the tree – the roots that feed the tree to help it flourish. They are the foundation on which the tree grows. There are times when dead branches need to be pruned for the tree to remain healthy. When the roots feed the tree, co-operation and contribution is nature at work. The roots need the branches and leaves and the branches and leaves need the roots. Both are interdependent for the tree to survive and grow. There is no separation and none is more important than the other – just as every cell in the body is required to serve its purpose. What purpose? Contribution and co-operation – integrating as part of the whole and not believing it is separate from the whole.

Everyone can do their bit to improve the culture of a country, a business or even a family through co-operation and contribution. It needs to start with each of us to influence the rest.