What’s for lunch?
Is it a sandwich? That, for sure, is me this week—experiencing the sandwich generation in full-force. I always find it fascinating to read about cultural phenomena—boomerang kids–adult children who come back home after leaving the nest, or the sandwich generation—adults caring for both kids and aging parents.
When you read about it abstractly, it’s easy to think “that must be hard for those OTHER people.” And then it hits you. It’s a stage of life. And I’m delighted to have my 86-year-old mom still in my life and to team up with two sisters to plan and organize our mom’s care and recovery from a broken leg.
Applying Cultural Competence at Home
Let’s just say the past few weeks have been rife with opportunities to draw from this experience and share the learning, as it applies it to business communications and teamwork.
In particular, here are some approaches from a cultural competence lens that yield great lessons in real life:
Focus on the big picture goal.
Find the commonality by corralling around a common objective. Keep the big goal in mind and don’t let personal annoyances among team members get in the way of achieving the ultimate objective (get mom out of the immediate crisis and then home with the care she needs in place)
Leverage individual strengths.
There’s my love of grids to consolidate information and coordinate action required from multiple sources. My “big” sister Brenda brings crisis training/mobilization from her years at the helm of a not-for-profit that places on the ground volunteers for animal rescue after natural disasters. My “little” sister Cara’s professional training as an occupational therapist helps with medical terms and to evaluate therapy and recovery plans. Plus she has a network of industry professionals to guide our choices for service providers. Together, we make a great team!
Adapt to others’ preferred communication (both style and mode.)
This is a core tenet of cultural competence. Being aware of your preferred style and being able to adapt to that of others. My sisters love texting for long detailed conversations. That makes me want to spontaneously combust. I try to read everything (really!), and they send me individual follow-up texts with my name in all caps if there is something critical.
4. Don’t Be a Martyr!
Face it—while people may not do things exactly the same way as you would, they can still get the job done. And you may find they do it in a way that teaches you something new. This is another great parallel from cultural competence. Embrace multiple perspectives and realize there may be many approaches to successfully reaching the same goal.
This doesn’t mean that we don’t regularly have text exchanges that end with “that’s it! I’m putting my phone away!” But it does mean that we pick back up the next morning to check in with each other and see how we help each other get through the next challenge.