A group of very diverse individuals met for three Saturdays to explore how to apply the 8 Culture Bump Steps to reach across our divisions. We included people with diverse spiritual paths – Christian, Muslim, Buddhist as well as those with no formal religious belief. Furthermore, they came from diverse backgrounds – the USA, Pakistan, Palestine, Vietnam, and Russia – and we held both conservative and liberal political beliefs. In short, we were a microcosm of the USA.
What we did share was a desire to move beyond differences and find a way to connect. And, like most Americans, we weren’t sure it was possible.
And we were willing to try.
Based on an Approach with a 40 Year History.
We formed the third cohort of individuals who have been trained in the Culture Bump Approach to dealing with differences. Like the two previous groups, this cohort is certified by Auburn University’s Center for Educational Outreach and Engagement as Culture Bump Facilitators. While including the seven modules in the Culture Bump Approach, this training focused more on integrating a group approach to the self-reflective steps in response to encountering a difference or “culture bump”.
These Steps are:
Pinpointing the culture bump,
Listing the Other’s behavior,
Listing one’s own behavior,
Identifying one’s emotions regarding the incident,
Extrapolating the universal situation implicit in the incident,
Describing in behavioral terms one’s expectations for that situation,
Reflecting upon and extrapolating the meaning of having one’s expectations met,
Having a conversation with the Other about how he/she/they experiences that meaning in their life.
Applying the Approach to Groups
For almost 40 years, this approach has helped people deal with and move beyond differences – cultural, social, gender, etc. However, with the advent of the Culture Bump App and the research regarding its efficacy, the idea of applying the Culture Bump Approach in groups and with societal divisions has developed. This training was the logical outgrowth. The steps were applied differently to those culture bumps that reflected our societal divisions. For example:
In dealing with political differences, steps 1, 2, 3 and 5 were done in a group setting with both conservatives and liberals.
Steps 4, 6 and 7 were done in separate conservative and liberal groups and step 8 then brought the two groups together again.
This process facilitated:
Everyone agreeing on the point of contention
People acknowledging and dealing with their emotional investment with like-minded folks
Clarifying their expectations and solutions in a safe environment.
Therefore, all participants came back together in step 8 having dealt with these fundamental issues and BEGAN their conversation at the level of meaning which led to creative solutions to the original point of contention or “culture bump”. It is important to note that all participants had repeatedly practiced this format on their individual cultural bumps before applying the process to political or spiritual bumps.
And how did it work? In our own words:
I really enjoyed the workshop. I learned many things: how we all came with different backgrounds, different colors and different educational background; yet we were all in common. I noticed that we shared same values with different expectations or different explanations. The language used was unique, we talked from the heart, our words did not come from our tongues, they came from the bottom of our hearts. Really, I started understanding others more now than before. I always wonder why did people do that action or other action or say that… Now, I can see differently. I am able to know that they are the same as me but different when they talk or explain or expect things.
The training made a great impact on my way of looking at perspectives, analyzing scenarios, and finding a common ground in situations. It was not an easy process; however, it was very interesting to analyze a bump by narrowing it down and finding a universal. It greatly broadened my frame of the reference. This tremendously helped me in dealing with my own bumps and others around me.
Finally, click on our photo to see a quick video of some of our workshop.