Archives for posts with tag: Cultural Intuitiveness

“You are your choices.” ~Seneca

Remember, before each conversation, set time aside not to create a plan for what you are going to talk with them about and how they may react, but instead to relax, rest and focus on words like “acceptance”, “appreciation” and “allowance.” Know your boundaries with clarity; and with curious sensitivity make room for the words like “engaging”, “enthusiasm” and “encouragement.”


Keep your blind spots in mind and make sure they lead you where you need to go and do not distract you unknowingly. As Annika Matins posed in a recent post “If I want clarity and connection in my relationships, what the heck do I expect to happen when I begin our conversations with restless, twitching unfocused-ness? What I bring to any interaction is (usually) what I receive from it. So it boils down to this: Before walking into tough conversations, we must get clear on who we want to be in that moment.”


For all of us it is not only who do I want to be, but how do I get my needs met while staying true to whom I am. Moreover all of us want what we want when we want it.


Matins writes:

“This doesn’t mean that your body language and words will be in permanent alignment with the qualities you’ve chosen to focus on. And it certainly doesn’t mean you’ll now morph into some super-human communicator deluxe. You will still mess up, somehow. That’s part of being human. But, I believe, you will mess up less.


I believe that when you get deliberate about the intention and energy you want to carry into a conversation or a room, you shift the dynamic.


The context moves from He-made-me-say-it to I choose these words. I choose these actions. You are no longer floundering around. You are no longer a victim or a puppet of the circumstances and people around you. You’re making clear, conscious choices about the person you want to be. That’s what true power is. That’s what it means to create your life.


So before you open your mouth or write the email or turn the doorknob, be clear as seawater about who you want to be in that moment. And then be that.”


These are powerful reminders of the Cultural Intuitiveness™ definition and that we are not striving to be perfect, we are striving to be real in a manner that is respectful, voice-giving, corporative and focused on building a peace-filled, productive environment. We choose to not be constantly tossed by the unpredictable sea of change but to chart a course and navigate with the winds of change, riding the waves and harnessing its power so that we arrive not just safely, but in a consistently healthier place.


To evolve in your ability to be culturally intuitive can ensure that you have the ability to navigate change in both your personal and professional lives. We celebrate with you your evolution to this point and look forward to continuing this journey with you.



The recent Earth Day celebration was an opportunity to celebrate our planet, connecting us with the beauty of the natural world, with which many of us now have increasingly limited experience. Yet, many media stories focused on the politics of climate change, seeking to reduce the Earth Day observance to another partisan clash. Communication about protecting the air, land, and water has been going on for over 50 years. Most Americans have given the issue of environmental protection and climate change some thought and have now chosen connectors and information sources they believe and those they distrust about the issue. The media portrays two entrenched sides on environmental issues who can no longer hear one another. And studies now suggest that additional information about environmental issues actually has a backfire effect with those disinclined to believe new information that doesn’t align with their already held beliefs.  This would seem to be an intractable debate. Yet, unlike other entrenched issues, this one can have long term, irreversible consequences on our natural resources and food supply. So how can two seemingly intractable positions find any common ground to start the conversation?

Context–Value 4 of Cultural Intuitiveness—asks this very question: How do you take your seemingly logically founded plan you have developed in communication with those you have come to agreement with and get others, who were not in your communication circle and may not be so like minded, to respond to it with support—or at least not serve as a barrier?

Considering the context of your plan can help you identify what may likely influence the perceptions of those who are not in your immediate communication and planning circle. Of those who have the ability to help you advance with your plan or halt you in your tracks, are they concerned about the immediate economic costs (especially theirs) associated with your great idea or plan? Will they have to share or give up some (or all) of their power if your plan moves forward? Will their social relationships be impacted negatively by your plan? Will they have to communicate or receive messages that may not be comfortable for them? Appreciating how these 4 conditions—economic, political, social, communication—create the context in which your plan will play out not only can help you anticipate how your plan will be received, but also help you find places where you can find commonality by framing your plan in a way that is important to those that you need to  hear you.


Using this approach, we were able to advance a very proactive approach to address substance abuse issues in Kentucky, a Commonwealth which did not have a history of investing state resources in this multi-generational social problem. We appreciated that the leaders both at the state and community level, whom we needed to support our efforts, were most concerned about the allocation of financial and time resources. Rather than approach these leaders with an appeal for resources to support substance abuse prevention programs for at risk youth from the perspective of values for mental health or public health (a more social frame), we therefore approached our appeal using an economic frame. We proposed that supporting effective prevention programs across the state was as “Easy as ABC: Accountability, Best Practices and Cost Savings.”  Effective prevention relied on evaluation of evidence based practices which if supported and widely implemented would save resources (both financial and time) that would have to be spent on the consequences of substance abuse including not only mental and public health, but the education and criminal justice systems as well. This frame was both simple to appreciate and persuasive with our audience. We were able to continue to secure the resources and support we needed to advance our plan because those who may have wanted to detour the plan found this to be difficult since our new supporters appreciated the advantages of long-term cost savings and the accountability in the plan (a language they appreciated and outcomes they valued).

Researchers are now beginning to look at the context surrounding the environmental debate in a similar way. Analyzing the values that each side holds about the environment helps to determine how to best frame the messages so that each side can hear information about the environment in a way that resonates with their values. We would suggest that this is in fact the only way to advance the creation of a critical mass necessary to develop sustainable solutions to environmental issues—or any difficult topic—beyond the current state of partisan rhetoric and move us towards meaningful conversations and action.



Family Tree (photoart by Carol Hays)


Our progress forward is propelled by the most important of tools (wisdom, wit, and whimsy) and resources (strength, sympathy, and strategic thinking). These tools and resources are the gifts given to us from the people who surround us. These individuals are our super power. They are behind us (having our backs) and they are in front us (leading by removing possible barriers from our paths and helping us choose the path that we need to follow). They are beneath us (helping us move when we are tired and crestfallen), and they are above us (helping us see what we cannot see, hear what we cannot hear, so that we can see and hear what is around us).  These people, our family and friends, are within us every moment of every day. They prune the branches and mulch the roots of our shared tree of life, keeping our roots firmly planted in the red soil and our branches bravely reaching toward the blue sky.

Those we connect with experience them through our words and deeds as we evolve in our embedding of the Cultural Intuitiveness™ values and principles. These people fill our knowledge gaps; teach us to be both creative and tech savvy.  These people fill our knowledge gaps; teach us to be both creative and tech savvy. These people who we take with us in our every moment are essential to our creative growth and entrepreneurial practice: they are our inspiration. They shape us and help us be who others encounter.


A Journey’s Path (photoart by Carol Hays)

We began our journey of Cultural Intuitiveness™ when we concluded that the focus on being cultural competent—so talked about but rarely practiced–needed to be more than words or documented only through a paper process (in our by-laws, check; in our break room, check; in our personal manual, check; etc).

Our journey continued as we researched and tested different concepts, tools and processes to increase cultural competence among the groups of individuals with whom we worked.

Along the way, we hit barriers–prejudice about our company’s Kentucky home and that neither of us looks like people who others perceive should have such a deep passion for and a deep interest in cultural competency.

The biggest risks we took were to change the name of what we do from cultural competency to Cultural Intuitiveness™.  While it is a much better fit the process and the outcomes we were seeking, the name change put us in a place of needing explain what it is we do.  We also created two work books based on our research, our insights, and our experience; holding them up in the bright light for criticism, rejection and scorn.

We realized that at the core of our work, values and principles, we are asking others to risk their vulnerability, remove the walls that serve to protect them. This meant for us that we had to be vulnerable and remove our walls of protection; we had to be who we are and want to be–culturally intuitive individuals.

Throughout our journey, we have had to take the time to look at the information we receive with a critical eye, to reflect on our own wants and needs, to engage in communication where we are fed as well as are feeding others, to embrace the gift of patience with that context put before and around our best laid plans, and to always be aware that the choice is not whether or not to change (as we are always changing) but whether or not to harness the power of that change in a manner that strengthens us because we are vulnerable and sustains us because we are taking additional risks as our journey continues.


Flowing Through a Perfect Year (photoart by Carol Hays)

The perfect year of creating our energy, our art, would be similar to slow movement down a flowing body of water, moving forward, touching and changing the shoreline and being changed by it. Sometimes it floods; sometimes there is not sufficient flow to move easily over the water’s bottom. Sometimes it is sunny and cool; and other times sunny and hot. Sometimes we are moved along by gentle winds, other times by blowing gales. The changes are welcomed, even embraced, as each presents new hopes, new challenges and new growth. Staying hope-filled, empowered by the energy, touching and being touched by what we encounter–that is a perfect year of practicing cultural intuitiveness™.

Where do we create and practice Cultural Intuitiveness™? Where is the studio in which we cultivate the artful dynamic of our evolving selves?

Our studio is not one place for our work, a structure with four walls and perhaps window.

Our studio is our family and friends from whom we receive inspiration and insight as we work at our own cultural intuitiveness™.  This time with others provides continual insight to living out values and principles and helps to infuse our connections with those whom we work.

Our studio is our time alone activities whether this be swimming and art for Carol and long runs, story writing for D. G. This time alone provides moments of great clarity especially to think and feel what we need and want to do next as we continue our journey.

Our studio is meetings with others practicing Cultural Intuitiveness™ whether that be group calls and one-on-one calls with those working the practice for the first time or with those who are certified and continuing the process of sharpening their ( and by interaction our) skills.

Our studio is interacting beyond our circle of family and friends, going to conferences, reading the newspaper.  Listening and observing others who have differing political, social and economic and communication style points of view.  Seeing where we fit, and where we do not fit.  Bending, moving, going under, going over as we continue our path of trust, transparency, transmission of self, allowing others to impact us and to appreciate and accept those impacts, growing in our power to become more steady in our position and posture ourselves to move forward and to sustain our growth.

Our studio is the continual movement of ourselves and others.  Receiving feedback from a respectful place, hearing the voices of these reflections, and learning to work with them so as to continue to propel ourselves beyond today, honoring our past and excited about our future – all in the same moment of time and space.

This is our studio.  Walls, no walls, windowless, all windows.  And this is our wish, to continue to have the opportunity to grow in our cultural intuitiveness™ and continue to assist others to grow in their own.  We do not have to live physically next door (over 250 miles separate our individual residences) but to live together in a greater sense of sharing who we are and who we are becoming.

Of all the work we do through Community Systems Investments International/CSII, D.G. and I are most proud of the Cultural Intuitiveness™ process. We began laying the groundwork for the CI process during our work developing and providing technical assistance to states and communities addressing issues of system change, sustainability and community engagement. Agencies and organizations across the country were seeking to ensure that their work and services were culturally competent, yet there were varying definitions of cultural competency and limited standards for its application. D.G. himself was a trainer in the area of cultural competence when he worked with the area of mental health in Kentucky and found when he changed positions to work within the area of substance abuse  prevention that the definition and appreciation of cultural competency had sometimes nuanced and at other times rather different meanings both in context and application.

Separate from, yet connected to our desire to increase cultural connections and further make real the concepts of cultural competency, we were given the opportunity to train a team of coaches who were assigned to work with groups of communities. Our technical assistance mission was to serve as a facilitator of knowledge transfer, helping community organizers gain the skills to implement effective, evidence based practices for social and health behavior change. Yet in many cases attitudes stood in the way of the adoption of better, more effective practices.   We learned over time that for those who were seeking to help facilitate the use of best practices in their community, the job was easier when they were clear what they were trying to provide to others and what the attitudes were of those they were trying to offer it to. To better assess and appreciate those attitudes, we began developing a series of reflective questions that we helped our clients use to connect to the information they needed to inform themselves about their community context. We helped them reflect on these connections. We found that the more they took time to reflect on what they really needed, the better prepared they were to enter into thoughtful communication with others, better prepared to hear others’ perspectives and better prepared to appreciate the readiness of others to hear theirs. We taught them to think about the contexts—economic, social, political, communication– that shaped the perspectives of those they were trying to provide services to and to identify ways to connect with them that would emphasize an appreciation of what they held in common. Their job was to work respectfully with each community they served, cultivate trusting relationships in which they could hear and be heard by their community partners, cooperate with diverse partners to help them value, learn and apply new skills and adopt more effective practices, and build effective community coalitions that could transform their communities.

Watching this team evolve as we applied our emerging tools and approaches strengthened our resolve to continue to take the Cultural Intuitiveness™ from concept to application.  As we learned what worked, what was important to think about when approaching a new partnership in which you hope to make forward progress together through shared efforts, we began to formalize our unique approach.  This approach, Cultural Intuitiveness ™,  became a distinct approach that extends the limited boundaries of cultural competency beyond the organizational setting to all realms of life. We do not believe that effective meaningful conversations and cooperation should only be the realm of organizational life—they are certainly needed at home with our families and in all our shared communities.

We began sharing our insights through presentations and day long workshops. After several trials, we realized that without follow up coaching to encourage effective practice, exposure to the basic concepts in a workshop was not enough to fully appreciate how to apply the values and tools.  Over several years we have refined and clarified the process so that we could clearly communicate what it is and how practicing the 5 core values of CI can transform relationships and lead to more effective and satisfying interactions in all aspects of life, helping people evolve to their true selves.  We now provide Cultural Intuitiveness™ training through a one and a half day institute in which we guide small groups of nominees through the background and concepts of CI. Those who complete the Institute and wish to become CI certified become CI candidates who receive 5 months of one on one and group coaching in their application of the 5 CI values. When they complete the coaching, we certify them with a certification ceremony. We now provide ongoing booster sessions to provide even deeper practice proficiency.


Cultural Intuitiveness Work Books

Developing Cultural Intuitiveness has certainly been a labor of love not unlike giving birth to a child. It is our greatest accomplishment, the one my partner D.G. Mawn and I are most proud of, the one we hope we can expand for many years to come so that Cultural Intuitiveness™ becomes an accepted approach to evolve to our true selves.

Visit our website to learn more about us and watch our video about Cultural Intuitiveness!