Greetings and Happy Midweek,
This week I thought we could explore a few aspects of something many of us haven’t done in a very long time - dressing for company! As part of Global SKILLs’ cultural training, we take what we call a “proficiency task” (a specific task to be accomplished) and build a language and culture learning unit around that task. So, let’s make this our ‘appropriate dress for a visit’ task, and look at just one of the task’s many socio-cultural components.
I learned an important cultural lesson about dressing when I lived in the Jola village in southern Senegal. I always put on a nice outfit when I went visiting, as per my own cultural mandate. However, after doing this for awhile oblivious to any possible concerns, I was encouraged by my neighbor specifically not to go out into the village without pressing my skirt. Since pressing was quite an involved task without electricity (preparing the fire and necessary coals, drawing water from the well, heating up the hot-irons, etc), I asked why it was necessary to press my skirt? The response gave me my answer as well as broader insight into the whole domain of culturally defined respect. My neighbor explained that if I wasn’t ‘properly dressed’(which included impeccably ironed clothes), that not only reflected on my own personal ‘cleanliness’ but it also, perhaps more importantly, disrespected those with whom I was planning to visit by indicating to them they were ‘not worth’ that extra effort of properly preparing my clothes. Wow, lesson learned and major faux pas avoided after that!
We’ll be adding other components to this proficiency task in future Connects, including how the pandemic is impacting dress codes globally. Exploring the diverse components of any cultural practice and its related paraphernalia informs our own awareness and choices, while enriching our cross-cultural literacy.
How about for you - what is a ‘dress code’ in your own culture which you think might impact you as you enter a cross-cultural context?
Take a minute and share about that with a friend or share it here...and check out the LINKs below for some additional insights!
Until next week,
Global SKILLs LINKs
Being aware and reflecting on all this is one step...another is deciding whether and/or when to adhere to cultural practices you learn about: https://www.tourismconcern.org.uk/campaign/conform-religious-cultural-dress-codes/
And then, there are many other ‘dress culture’ considerations: https://www.cartus.com/en/blog/dressed-impress-clothing-and-culture/
2021 ~ Celebrating 40 years of working in
intercultural communications and global community building
Connecting, Collaborating, Cultivating Community