The lowest level of the neurological levels is your environment. It is normally taken as your physical environment, how things are, look, smell and so on.

It is also valid in the context of cultural environment. It is how things are expected to be, to look like here. And it is more of a feature than you might think. For instance I am French and spent the fIrst 25 years of my life there. When I look at pictures without knowing where they have been taken, there is usually something that will tell me “I think it is a picture taken in France.” There is something, usually intangible, that gives me the clue. It is more a feeling, an instinct rather than something concrete on the picture (except of course if it is a picture of an iconic landmark.). More often than not, I am right. It is because I have built a picture of what France looks like.

The cultural environment in this context also needs to include your social environment. Here, it is all what you have learned over the years, consciously and unconsciously, from your family, friends, teachers and all the groups you belong to. This will translate into the higher levels of Behaviours, Capabilities and so on and I’ll touch on those in later posts.

When you go to a new place, the physical environment is the first thing you will notice and experience. You see immediately if a place looks poor or rich, clean or with rubbish in the streets and so on. Then you begin to notice a bit more: how houses are designed, how space is thought of and used. There are also things not linked to human created environment that will affect you. I remember noticing how different to any other places I had been to the light was as soon as I arrived in Australia when I went. The environment will be where a lot of the differences will show most obviously. You don’t need to go live in a faraway place. It could be as simple as going from a shared office to your own office in a new job, or vice versa.

It is the first level on which you may feel confused, surprised as you discover how different things are. At the beginning, the main feeling is more of amused surprise but as you find and consciously notice more and more novel thngs in your new environment, it may daunt on you and you become more negative, sometimes retiring into yourself and becoming depressed.

A coach in cultural diversity can help you understand your new environment for you to be more at ease in it and perform better. However, working only on the environment level will in most cases not be sufficient. We will see in the next posts how a change in your environment impacts the levels above it, the consequences it can have and how best to handle it.

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