Why applying cultural understanding and sensitivity ?

Our world is full of diversity including cultural diversity. We all agree that American culture is different with Egyptian as well as Indonesian culture different with Korean, even every region in Indonesia has its own culture. Those facts reveal that our world society is very heterogeneous and high level of plurality. The consequence is that the relation between people is much easier involving in conflict. Thus, cultural understanding and sensitivity in our relations with the other people is really needed in order to avoids conflict and live in harmony.

For instance, in a really simple case – in Russian Federation, vodka drunk without mixture including ice. But, Russian peoples only mix vodka with beer once they want to give a sign that they want to make friends. And if we are offered it to drink, we have to drink it. But if we reject it, it means a humiliation for them.[1]

Concerning this Russian culture, what if a Russian meets with a Religious people (let’s say from Egypt) and give him vodka mixed beer, but the Religious men reject it. So what will happen? Conflict is inevitable, unless the Egyptian has sense of cultural understanding and the Russian has the sense of sensitivity, so that both sides can understand each other – the Egyptian do not need to drink the mixed vodka and the Russian do not need to feel humiliated.

Besides that, not understand and not sensitive to others culture will cause ineffective relations between people. Misunderstanding is so often occur in inter-personal relations which have different culture background.

For instance, in a banquet session, Koreans may eat the meal after all the older people and people who respected already started to eat first. They also should not be raised bowl of rice and soup of the table. They must use a long spoon to pick it up and use chopsticks to pick up side dishes. Precedes parents and raised a bowl on the dining table is considered as rude, also drink by facing older people is not polite. When we offered a drink by parents, we have to accept it with two hands as a respect. Then, turn the other way to sip the drinks without sound.

Concerning this Korean culture, if I go to Korea for the first time without understand the Korean culture, off course it will be a serious problem for me. Let’s say I have invited to have dinner with my Korean friend and his family and unfortunately, my friend forget to inform me the rule of Korean. Suddenly, I just do what I am not supposed to in an innocent way, off course, this moment makes them think that I am not polite at all which will drives them to see me with one eye or even to dislike me.

That kind of misunderstanding is what we need to avoids by understanding others culture and having the sense of sensitive which will makes us more aware about others culture, so that the relationship in friendship and even in business activities can go very well. [MSS]


[1] Life.viva.co.id.(September 3, 2012). Etiket Makan Di Berbagai Negara. [online]. Available: http://life.viva.co.id/news/read/348405-etiket-makan-di-berbagai-negara



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