By Michelle Le Baron July 2003 Culture is an essential part of conflict and conflict resolution.
Cultures are like underground rivers that run through our lives and relationships, giving us messages that shape our perceptions, attributions, judgments, and ideas of self and other.
In an interview conducted in Canada, an elderly Chinese man indicated he had experienced no conflict at all for the previous 40 years. Among the possible reasons for his denial was a cultural preference to see the world through lenses of harmony rather than conflict, as encouraged by his Confucian upbringing.
Labeling some of our interactions as conflicts and analyzing them into smaller component parts is a distinctly Western approach that may obscure other aspects of relationships.
They are a series of lenses that shape what we see and don't see, how we perceive and interpret, and where we draw boundaries.
In shaping our values, cultures contain starting points and currencies.
Therefore, no comprehensive description can ever be formulated about a particular group.
Any attempt to understand a group must take the dimensions of time, context, and individual differences into account.
Cultural messages, simply, are what everyone in a group knows that outsiders do not know.
They are the water fish swim in, unaware of its effect on their vision.