SDI and Cultural Awareness


I met a lady this week and we did the SDI inventory and the main talking point about her score was the long arrow into the red in conflict. She readily agreed that this represented her well. She rose to the challenge in conflict and wanted fiercely to fight her corner when life got tough. The problem for her was that she was from a culture where women cannot readily speak up and have their say. This frustrated her mightily and she had to find a coping strategy whereby she could express herself to her own satisfaction while at the same time satisfying cultural norms.

Every culture has rules about what behaviour is acceptable to them and our traits and motivations have to be shaped by that culture. In some cultures you can blow your top with impunity while in others you’d lose a great deal of face with that behaviour and it would largely be unacceptable.

While teaching SDI around the world I’ve learned that we have to see the theory within the culture that we’re dealing with. It adds an extra layer to the discussion. People feel the same but they can express it very differently. Interesting stuff this and it’s worth revisiting the work of Hofstede and Trompenaars who are the gurus of cultural awareness and can help us make sense of what we find in our travels.

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