The Importance Of Cultural Awareness & How It Can Improve Your Relationships

The importance of cultural awareness is growing with time. Cultural awareness means understanding the dynamic values and beliefs of different cultures. For better opportunities, understanding and respecting various cultures is necessary. By doing so, people from different backgrounds can work together quickly. A lack of cultural awareness may mislead crucial decisions.

Globalization has led to a vast impact on the expansion of businesses worldwide. Hence, organizations need to be wise to become culturally aware of dealing with international clients. As a result, organizations will work more effectively and comfortably. Cultural awareness promotes people to build successful and professional relationships from diverse backgrounds. In this article, we shall discuss the importance of cultural awareness and how it can improve your relationship.

Cultural awareness, sometimes referred to as cultural sensitivity, is when you’ve made a good-faith attempt to learn about and appreciate a culture different from your own. Becoming more culturally aware is a process, but it starts with an open mind, a willingness to ask questions, and a sensitivity to the differences that exist between cultures.

Cultural awareness is important because it allows us to see and respect other perspectives and to appreciate the inherent value in people who are different than we are. It leads to better relationships, healthier work environments, and a stronger, more compassionate society.

Read on to learn more about cultural awareness, including the impacts it can have, how to become more culturally aware, how to approach conversations about cultural awareness, and how to address cultural awareness in intercultural relationships.

The Importance of Cultural Awareness

Cultural awareness is about the desire to learn about cultures that are different from your own. But it’s also about being respectful about these differences, says Natalie Page Ed.D., chief diversity officer at Saint Xavier University in Chicago. “It’s about being sensitive to the similarities and differences that can exist between different cultures and using this sensitivity to effectively communicate without prejudice and racism,” she explains.

5 Reasons Why Cultural Awareness Is Important

Here are five reasons why it’s important to become more culturally aware:

  1. When you strive to become more culturally aware, you gain knowledge and information about different cultures, which leads to greater cultural competence, says Dr. Page
  2. Engaging in cultural awareness makes you more sensitive to the differences between cultures that are different than your own, Dr. Page says; you also become less judgmental of people who are different than you.
  3. Studies have found that greater cultural awareness in the workplace leads to an overall better workplace culture for everyone involved.
  4. Research has found that cultural awareness creates better outcomes for people in healthcare environments, and in other environments where people are receiving care from others.
  5. According to Nika White, Ph.D., author of Inclusion Uncomplicated: A Transformative Guide to Simplify DEI, cultural awareness can improve your interpersonal relationships. “Just like any other relationship, you must understand their culture to truly understand someone’s lived experiences and how they show up to the world,” Dr. White describes.

Knowing about the importance of being more culturally aware is one thing, but actually taking steps to do so is something else.

It’s about being sensitive to the similarities and differences that can exist between different cultures and using this sensitivity to effectively communicate without prejudice and racism.


Here are a few tips for how to go about becoming more culturally aware.

Understand That It’s a Process

“Becoming culturally aware is a process that is fluid, birthed out of a desire to learn more about other cultures,” says Dr. Page.

She says it can be helpful to study the model laid out by Dr. Ibram Kendi, the author of How To Be An Antiracist.

Dr. Kendi says that there are basically three paths to growing cultural awareness. “The first is moving from the fear zone, where you are afraid and would rather stay in your own cultural comfort zone,” Dr. Page describes. Next is moving into the learning zone, where you strive to learn about different cultures. “The last phase is the growth zone, where you grow in racial advocacy and allyship,” says Dr. Page.

Ask Questions

Dr. White says that asking questions is a vital part of becoming more culturally aware. You can start by asking yourself some important questions, such as: “How is my culture affecting how I interact with and perceive others?” Dr. White suggests.

You can also respectfully ask others about their lives. But make sure the exchanges aren’t one-sided, she recommends: when you ask others about their cultures, tell them about yours, too. “Tell your own stories to engage, build relationships, find common ground, and become more culturally aware of someone from a different culture,” she says.

Educate Yourself and Do the Work

There’s no way around it: if you want to become more culturally aware, you need to take action and educate yourself.

“Don’t lean on assumptions,” says Dr. White. “Actually research cultures different from yours.” This can help you become more aware of how culture affects every aspect of your life and the lives of others. In addition to research, educating yourself often involves engaging directly with people of different cultures. “Expand your network to include people from different cultures into your circle,” Dr. White recommends.

Study the Cultural Competence Continuum Model

Cultural Competence Continuum Model

The Cultural Competence Continuum Model is an assessment tool that helps us understand where people are on their journey to becoming more culturally competent.

Different people fall into various categories along the continuum. Categories include cultural destructiveness, cultural incapacity, cultural blindness, cultural pre-competence, cultural competence, and cultural proficiency.

Studying this model can help us become more aware of the process of moving toward more cultural sensitivity, and become more patient with ourselves and others as we move through the process.

Acknowledge Your Own Bias

We all have our own biases when it comes to cultural awareness because we all begin by looking at the world and at others through our own cultural lens.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s important to acknowledge this and understand how our biases can sometimes prevent us from being as culturally sensitive as we wish to be.

What If I Say the Wrong Thing?

Often, people don’t want to address topics having to do with culture or race because they are afraid they will say the wrong thing or make a mistake while talking to someone.

The truth is, most people make mistakes on their journey toward cultural awareness, and that’s understandable, says Dr. Page.

“If you make a mistake, simply apologize and let the person that you may have offended know that you are learning and be open to any suggestions they may have,” she recommends. Sometimes it even makes sense to apologize in advance, if you are saying something you are unsure of. You can say, “I may have this wrong, so I apologize beforehand but…” Dr. Page suggests. “The key is to be sincere in your conversations and always open to learning from others,” she says.

Cultural Awareness and Sensitivity in Intercultural/Interracial Relationships

If you are in a relationship with someone who is of a different race or culture than you, it’s important to have open, honest discussions about this. “If a person is going to grow in interracial and intercultural relationships, you have to step out of your cultural comfort zone and seek an understanding of other cultures,” says Dr. Page.

Questions to Ask Someone to Learn About Their Culture

Having a genuine discussion with someone about your differences can feel awkward, and it can be helpful to kick-start the conversation with a few open-ended questions. Dr. White shared some helpful questions:

  • Can you tell me about your culture?
  • Tell me a little something about how you were raised.
  • What role does religion play in your life?

Can I Ask Someone to Help Me Learn About Their Culture?

One of the important ways to develop cultural awareness is to educate yourself about other cultures. Learning directly from people of different cultures is a fantastic way to get authentic information. But it’s important to engage in conversations with others about their cultures in respectful, appropriate manners.

When you decide to ask others about their culture, be mindful that they may not want to answer, and know that that’s okay, says Dr. White. It’s also important to make the conversation a two-way street. Don’t just ask them about their culture—talk about your culture as well. “Share your culture first to model the behavior and let others know it is safe to talk about their culture,” Dr. White suggests.

Finally, make sure to take it upon yourself to do some of the work. “Once you learn of someone’s culture you wish to cultivate a relationship with, do your homework to learn as much as you can,” Dr. White says. Don’t simply rely on others to educate you—this may be seen as insensitive, Dr. White says.

Pitfalls of Not Developing Cultural Awareness

The main pitfalls of not developing cultural awareness are that we don’t expand our understanding of other cultures, we don’t deepen our relationship with people who are different than we are, and we risk continuing to have a narrow view of the world around us.

“We live in an ever-changing diverse world,” Dr. Page says. “We rob ourselves when we only hang out with people from our cultural groups. We have to branch out and experience the beauty that others bring.”

I hope you find this article helpful as well as interesting.

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A Public Speaker and Freelancer who is Interested in Writing articles relating to Personal Development, Love and Marriage.