By using Wingding’s Alt-C 120 you can create eight triangles at the touch of a button that in some cultures standing for selecting and in others deselecting something. You can recognize the ten of the Latins or the symbol of the research department of Alphabet Inc. The view from above onto the pyramid simultaneously shows the sign of the Bulgarian Air Force and is also the genealogical symbol for illegitimate. All right? Most of the time not. Every message is blurred on principle, since the undisclosed context of the involved people is crucial for the interpretation.
Ideally we have three perspectives: the sender, the receiver and the neutral observers of a message. Everyone has its own standpoint concerning a message: rejection, neutrality or consent.
The senders develop ideas and spread more or less and sometimes not at all digested messages. To what extent the senders are pursuing an intention, only they themselves know – if at all. Some produce statements that are consistent with their intentions. Others formulate messages that are contrary to their other opinions. It can also happen that the explanations mean nothing at all. Only the senders know what they actually mean. From the outside, we can only speculate based on further statements.
For the receivers, the message consists not only of what is said or shown, but also of the accompanying signals. They perceive the messages through their senses, e.g. visually, auditory, or kinesthetic – they see what is meant, it sounds good, and feels coherent. Eventually, they determine the content of the message. They connect the content with their experience and knowledge. For some, the contents confirm their conception of the world. Others cannot but contradict the statement. And some people don’t care. Only the recipients know what is going on in their mind. From the outside, we can see how the message works based on the reactions.
The observers are not the target group of the message. They can pursue neutrally what happens between the sender and the receiver. Even if they think they are neutral, they process their observations with their mental models. Some draw benevolent conclusions and incorporate them into their affirmative view. Others unconsciously do the opposite and with their negative view they provide a critical treatment of the whole. Even the neutral observer distorts, because his disinterest is accordingly reflected in his description of the situation. Only they know what happens in their minds. From the outside, it is impossible to assess what actually happened.
From this point of view, we have to be prepared for the fact that in most cases we are dealing with alternative facts – something that professional fact makers do not want to hear. What do we expect from a message that the sender did not mean, that the recipient gets the wrong way and that the observer reports in a negative way? In this case the message creates nothing but noise in the stream of significant information. It is the act that counts in the end.
Bottom line: The only thing that counts is the inherent blurring of messages. There is no objectively tangible truth, only personal interpretations. Senders, receivers and observers cannot get out of their settings and thus deliberately or unintentionally distort the facts. Though, the cry for objective facts is nothing more than a helpless desire for truth.
Common sense is influenced, when you daily take in fictional images of the media that are internalized by the mind like all other experiences – the self-healing powers of righteousness, the role models that achieve everything and the prescribed Hollywood happy ending. At the same time, you are shaped by the practical actions and behaviors, which take place around you. All this burns in permanently. In the end, you will not get rid of it. This makes the brand stamp an ideal metaphor for cultural imprint.
The cultural stamp becomes apparent in the things of everyday life: the context, the actions, the typical skills, the shared beliefs, the established roles and the perceived affiliation.
The sense of belonging is the most sustainable pattern that anchors one in a particular culture. In the own team one is identified by the same shirt and the shared attitudes. This excludes all others who do not belong – especially those who emphasize their own identity. The attachment with one’s own group creates security and is maintained, for example, by a common symbol or shared rituals. This most primitive coinage is the hardest to change, if at all.
Actually, there are similar roles in all cultures – family, religious, social, economic or technical roles. Fearful little minds overlook these similarities and pour oil into the fire of the differences again and again. Although roles provide a good basis for a better understanding of the various cultural imprints. How is the Imam different from the priest or rabbi? How is the little sister (小妹妹) different from the Arab sister (شقيقة) and the sister in Mexico? The roles provide a good starting point for change.
The beliefs are the mental guiding principles fir everybody. They include values, mission, vision, strengths / weaknesses / opportunities / threads, goals and anything else that influences opinion- or decision-making. However, we never share all beliefs with other people. The individual properties lead to ever new, unique character traits. It is not enough to limit yourself to the stereotypes of the roles. The actual variety creates a large number of options, of which only a small number become reality. That’s why you have to watch closely and look for creative solutions. Change becomes possible, when the convictions start to shake and new mental conclusions emerge.
While not all capabilities (I.e. skills, knowledge, experience) result from a formal education, these talents are always the basis for the desired outcomes. Skills include elementary sensory-motor (e.g., movements), cognitive (e.g., arithmetic, reading), cognitive-motor (e.g., writing, music-making), social (e.g., dealing with others), and perceptual (e.g., pattern recognition, kinesthetic differences). The knowledge consists of a variety of technical and general knowledge, the experience and the insights that are acquired in the course of practice. The key to new skills is persistent learning. Change can be prepared relatively easily with appropriate training.
To better understand the cultural imprint, the actions are observed. This can be done by direct or hidden observation. The actions carried out can be interpreted based on the activities (e.g. planning, discussion, production or reporting), the linguistic expression (e.g. the expression of beliefs, desires, intentions, states), and the choice of words (e.g. key, stigma, abstract words and synonyms) as well as the style (e.g. gesture, facial expression, posture, volume, and tone). Through clever task distribution and a conscious corporate wording as well as a special code of conduct changes can be introduced easier
The context describes the environment in which one acts. This includes people (e.g., professionals, character heads), places (e.g., cities, architectural styles, and infrastructure) and things (e.g., vehicles, IT, gadgets). To which extent actions, abilities and values are appropriate, can be determined through the context. Sometimes you have to adjust it, so that the desired changes take effect.
Bottom line: The cultural imprint has a great influence on the activities that are carried out. Roles bundle the individuals into a manageable number of groups, who feel connected to each other. The beliefs mainly include the values that have an effect in the role. Capabilities are the prerequisite for the actions that take place in a particular context. The responsible person for the change needs to take all these aspects into account to actually make a difference. Just as a branding can only be removed with a lot of effort, it is difficult to get rid of its original coinage. This makes the brand stamp to an ideal metaphor for cultural imprint.