The Biggio Center at Auburn University will serve as the training base for a global communication training process called the Culture Bump Approach, a solution to facing global and domestic issues.
The university recently reached an agreement with Dr. Carol Archer, creator of the Culture Bump, licensing the university with the ability to offer workshops, seminars and training certification courses through the Biggio Center’s Cultural Insight Program.
“The goal of the Culture Bump is to teach you how to manage your emotional responses to cultural differences,” said Stacey Nickson of the Biggio Center. “Anytime you encounter someone with a cultural difference … you react. It may be positive, negative or even a neutral reaction, but you do react. We teach you how to manage that emotional response.”
“Culture Bump is different because it teaches you how to connect with people who are different from you,” Nickson said. “Until we reconnect, we just remain different.”
Culture Bump training is available for individuals, businesses, governments, schools, universities, hospitals, religious institutions, the military, political parties, neighborhood groups and more.
Nickson said she believes the program will be an asset to the local community because of its international connections.
“Let’s say you are a manager at the Kia plant, and you’re dealing with people from a culture or gender or something else you’re not accustomed to,” Nickson said. “Or you’re trying to make a deal with another business, but you can’t get past and manage your emotional response to the fact that someone that is a Muslim has come in from Saudi Arabia. You’re reacting.”
Nickson said there are many parts to learning how to control an emotional response to a cultural shock.
“We also teach you how to recognize the fact that what you are responding to is someone else’s specific cultural behavior,” Nickson said. “You stick your hand out to shake hands with someone who comes from a culture that doesn’t do it that way. Instead of taking it personally, you say, ‘That may have something to do with him being from Australia,’ or whatever the case may be.”
Nickson said it’s important that people have the tools to deal with such situations — otherwise, they could risk a personal, social or professional deal.
“We also teach you how to reflect on your expectations,” she said. “For example, if I’m in a crowded bus or room with nowhere to sit, but there are four young men in their 20s seated, it’s my expectation that one of them will get up and give their seat to me. When they don’t, I assume what? They’re rude. They weren’t raised well.”
Culture Bump workshops and trainer certification programs are available throughout the U.S. This year, Auburn will certify two cohorts of trainers, one at Auburn and one in San Diego, Calif.
“Our hope is that Auburn University will be able to use this as a platform to support communication, positive communication throughout the world, in any and every arena,” Nickson said.