Look at this image, like a fish, when we no longer “see the water,” it’s a clear signal that we have assimilated into our surroundings or culture.
Back in 2005, when I was working in Australia, I remembered working so hard to fit in and be like an Australian that I had put a lid on the diverse perspective I could have offered. Instead, I should have focused on whether I can get the job done without having to be like an Australian.
Corporate cultures place standards on how one should behave, and these standards build barriers that suppress inclusion and diversity.
Each culture dictates what the dominant and acceptable behaviours are like,
In this culture, playing sports is important, in this culture, we go out for dinner with colleagues, in this culture we keep a low profile etc.
Those who fit into the dominant culture, of course, don’t “see the water,” and are completely ignorant of what is going on. The cognitive load and pressure is usually on the outsider, who constantly seeks to fit in. The water is visible and cold for them.
A good corporate culture does not ask you to fit in; rather it makes you feel that you belong despite the differences because it stays curious and embraces the diversity that those who are different bring to their culture.
So, instead of trying to be like others in order to fit it, focus on your unique strengths and seek to enhance the corporate culture. And whilst and outsider is making an effort, people from dominant culture must be curious enough to ask questions that will make you see the water.
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