Respect at Work

Training programs for mentally safe, fair and respectful workplace cultures



Water is to goldfish as culture is to ..?

Posted on 30 January, 2019 at 21:00

No, this blog is not about your memory

Imagine you are a goldfish swimming around in your tank of water. Do you think you are aware of the water?  Or is it just there?

What if you suddenly lost the water?  Would it become more important?

Culture to us might be likened to water for a goldfish.

Do you take parts of your culture for granted?

I don’t usually spend a lot of time thinking about my cultural self until something happens to trigger a conscious thought or connection. Like the goldfish, it sometimes takes the loss of something important for me to appreciate (or even notice) what is now missing.

If faced with the loss of country, an integral family member or even a job, the connection of that lost part of self to our identity can be consuming.

Why does this matter?

Our cultural self helps to define our identity. Who I am is influenced by my upbringing, my family, life experiences, education, relationships, work experiences, trauma, tragedy, successes and failures.

This cultural self or identity then impacts my perspectives, my opinions and my behaviours. Yes, I have some control over these things — IF I am aware of them.

If (unlike the goldfish) we take the time to reflect on who we are and acknowledge our cultural influences this awareness will help us to question our perspectives and potentially our unconscious bias.

No, we are not all the same, we are all unique individuals with our own personal history and our cultural selves continue to develop our whole lives.

My cultural self may hold unconscious bias. By becoming conscious of my identity, I can become conscious of bias and shift any biased perspectives thus avoiding any potential disrespectful and/or discriminatory behaviour.

Something to ponder…

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