Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Cultural Competency & Extra-Terrestrial Contact


a field guide for effective communication with off-world visitors

This guide is intended to serve as a general briefing to enhance cultural competence while providing insight into the complexities of extra-terrestrial (ET) first contact. Cultural competence is defined as the ability to function effectively in the context of cultural differences. A more specific orientation or training must be provided to individuals, such as diplomatic personnel and social service providers, who will be having repeated or prolonged contact.

First contactees should use this guide to ensure the following Five Elements of Cultural Competence* are being addressed:

1. Awareness, acceptance and valuing of cultural differences.

2. Awareness of one’s own culture and values.

3. Understanding the range of dynamics that result from the interaction between entities of different cultures.

4. Developing cultural knowledge of the particular entity encountered or accessing cultural brokers who may have that knowledge.

5. Ability to adapt individual understanding and communication strategies to fit the cultural context of the individual entity, species, or home world.

*Adapted from Cross, T., Bazron, B., Dennis, K., and Isaacs, M. (1989). Towards A Culturally Competent System of Care Volume I. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Child Development Center, CASSP Technical Assistance Center.
Myths & Facts
Myth: ETs are inherently spiritual and live in harmony with universe.

Fact: The idea of all ET having a mystical spirituality is a broad generalization. This romantic stereotype can be just as damaging as other more negative stereotypes and impairs one’s ability to communicate to ETs as “real people”.

Myth: ETs have distinguishing physical characteristics and you can identify them by how they look.

Fact: Due to galactic diversity, as well as thousands of years of inter-world and inter-species interaction, there is no single distinguishing “look” for ETs. Again, this is stereotypical and could lead to unintended consequences in communication.

Communication Styles
Nonverbal Messages
ETs communicate a great deal through non-verbal gestures. Careful observation is necessary to avoid misinterpretation of non-verbal behavior.

ETs may look down to show respect or deference to elders, or ignoring an individual to show disagreement or displeasure.

A gentle handshake is often seen as a sign of respect, not weakness.

Storytelling
Getting messages across through telling a story (traditional teachings and personal stories) is very common and sometimes in contrast with the “get to the point” frame of mind in earthling society. Patience, acceptance and thoughtfulness are critical in establishing and maintaining effective communication.

Self-Awareness & Etiquette
Prior to making contact, examine your own belief system about ETs, related to social issues, such as species phobia, mammalian centrism and psychedelic drug use, as well as galactic issues such as consensual reality. You are being observed at all times, so avoid making assumptions and be conscious that you are laying the groundwork for others to follow.

Adapt your tone of voice, volume, and speed of speech patterns to that of specific entities to fit their manner of communication style. Preferred body language, posture, and concept of personal space depend on species norms and the nature of the personal relationship. Observe others and allow them to create the space and initiate or ask for any physical contact.

As you establish communication, you may experience expressions of mistrust, frustration, or disappointment from other situations that are outside of your control. Learn not to take it personally. If ETs tease you, understand that this can indicate rapport-building and may be a form of guidance or an indirect way of correcting inappropriate behavior. You will be more easily accepted and forgiven for mistakes if you can learn to laugh at yourself and listen to lessons being brought to you through humor.

Rapport and trust do not come easily in a limited amount of time; however, don’t be surprised if ETs speak to you about highly charged issues (e.g., sexual customs) as you may be perceived as an objective expert. Issues around gender roles can vary significantly in various ET communities. Males and females typically have very distinct social rules for behavior in every day interactions and in ceremonies.

Common behaviors for humans to be aware of as they relate to gender issues are: eye contact, style of dress, physical touch, personal space, decision making and the influence of male and/or female elders. Careful observation and seeking guidance from an entity elder on appropriate gender-specific behavior can help contactees to follow specific customs and demonstrate cultural respect.

The above information is presented as a public service by the Hedonic Engineering Department at Tek-Gnostics. A comprehensive document is available at tekgnostics.com